Q. What about the federal Americans with Disabilities Act?
A. What about it? The Americans with Disabilities Act only applies to such "public accommodations" as businesses, schools, recreation areas, etc. The pertinent thing here is the Federal Fair Housing Act and its state and local analogues. Buildings must allow guide dogs for the blind or the deaf. They also must allow psychiatric service dogs that assist people with mental disabilities such as a major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, autism, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia, by performing such tasks as interrupting repetitive or dangerous behaviors, providing a brace when the sufferer appears dizzy, or barking to alert neighbors if the sufferer passes out.
Likewise, epileptics can get a seizure-response dog , and the physically disabled have mobility-assistance dogs that do things such as pulling wheelchairs, operating light switches, and serving as a "living cane" for sufferers of Parkinson's disease.
Note that the use of psychiatric service dogs generally require stringent medical documentation. In the absence of a clinically recognized mental condition, keeping an animal in a no-pet building simply because it cheers you up when you're feeling sad does not reach the threshold of medical need, and a co-op or condo board can successfully petition in court for the removal of the animal.
Q. Are replacement animals allowed when a pet dies or is taken to live elsewhere?
That's currently outside the realm of the law, and a decision left up to each board.
Q. What are pet-owners responsibilities outside the building?
Public Health Law 1310 states that owners have to clean up after their animals — essentially, dogs — and keep them on a leash no more than six feet long (Section 161.05 of the New York City Health Code), except in such authorized areas as dog runs.
Illustration by Liza Donnelly
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