The Philadelphia antidiscrimination agency panel heard evidence and issued a groundbreaking opinion concerning the rights of persons with disabilities living with their emotional support animals. It was a housing discrimination case of first impression under Philadelphia law and an emerging area of the law nationally. It was held that a co-op building violated local antidiscrimination law by invoking a “no pet” policy to prohibit a woman with disabilities from keeping her dog.
The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations held that the residential co-op building violated the antidiscrimination law by refusing the woman’s request to keep her medically necessary assistance dog. This opinion means that a reasonable accommodation for housing includes not only specially-trained “service animals,” but also “assistance animals” that provide emotional and other support to alleviate symptoms of a disability.
“As our understanding of the needs of people with disabilities expands, it is clear that many people simply need small accommodations in order to live independently,” said the Commission’s Executive Director Rue Landau. “The Commissioners’ decision in this case was right and just and fell squarely in line with the Fair Housing Act and HUD’s guidelines.”
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