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Dear Habitat

My husband and I own a condo. Our condo association has a pet rule allowing only one pet (under 15 pounds) per household. I have a service dog that meets these guidelines, so we have never had a problem. However, we are interested in adopting another small-breed dog; since a service dog is not considered a “pet,” we were wondering if we would be able to have the other dog as the “pet.” Has anyone come across this? What are our options?

What if the condo board said “one dog” or “one animal” instead of “one service dog”? Then it would be clear that the service dog fits the requirement. The couple is trying to be clever, trying to be overly legalistic to get what they want. The intent of the condo board is clearly not for you to have a secondary animal; the couple is trying to make the argument that a service animal is not a pet. It won’t fly.

Tara Snow, Partner, Novitt, Sahr & Snow

The fact that the couple has a service dog that did not require board approval does not necessarily mean they are entitled to harbor another animal with approval. The intent of the rule was most likely an effort to make sure each apartment only has one animal – less wear and tear, concerns about barking, too many dogs in the elevator, etc. The couple will never know the answer until they ask, but if the answer is “no,” the board would be within its discretion to reject the request for the second dog.

Lisa Smith, Partner, Smith, Gambrell & Russell



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