Moving with my dog
Apr 1, 2012
I have been HIV Positive nearly now for 3 years. I receive Through ADAP my meds. They are great. Question. Emotionally i am bonded with my cutest 13 LB well behaved dog. Most places will not let me in with my emotional dog. They state that I need a written letterhead from a physiologist or therapist that that my dog is an emotional dog.
Do you have advice on how to obtain such a letter in the Chicago area without paying exaggerate amounts of money? Thank you so much.
Response from Ms. Douaihy
Thanks for writing with this great question. It sounds like your dog could be considered a "companion animal" or "emotional support animal" and as such qualify as an exception to a prospective apartment's "no-pets policy".
Many courts and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have held that an exception to a "no pets" policy would qualify as a Reasonable Accommodation for a person with a disability. HIV positive status qualifies as a disability in this context.
You can personally make an application for Reasonable Accommodation by submitting a letter to a prospective landlord. You should include a supporting document from your therapist or doctor verifying the factual need for your dog as an emotional support animal. In applying for your dog to be considered an emotional support animal (and thus a "Reasonable Accommodation") you must show a causal nexus between your ability to function (day-to-day activities) and the companionship role of the animal. In other words, you have to be as specific as possible describing the essential benefits your dog provides in direct relation to your disabling condition. You must demonstrate the critical need for your animal given your medical conditions. If a prospective landlord unjustifiably refuses your request, you may have a claim of discrimination under state or federal law.
In seeking legal assistance your first stop should be the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago. They are highly respected in the field.
I wish you and your dog good luck!
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