The settlement followed a federal judge’s declaration that Sabal Palm Condominiums in Davie, which sued to force the woman to get rid of the dog, had behaved in a manner both absurd and unreasonable, not to mention in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
“Sabal Palm got it exactly — and unreasonably — wrong,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order.
“This is not just common sense — though it is most certainly that.”
Scola ordered the condo association to allow Deborah Fischer, a retired art teacher, to keep her service dog, the Miami Herald reported.
Fischer, who uses a wheelchair and has limited use of her arms and hands, received a service dog in November 2011 from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit group that provides dogs for people with disabilities.
The dog – a 5-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix named Sorenson — has been trained to help Fischer pick things up, open and close doors and retrieve items from counter tops.
The condominium association, saying the dog violated its 20-pound limit on pets, began demanding medical records and other information to prove that Fischer needed Sorenson — and it sued Fischer when, it said, she failed to provide it.
Fischer, along with her husband, Larry, counter-sued, saying the condo board’s demands violated the federal Fair Housing Act, or FHA.
Judge Scola, in a 30-page ruling, strongly agreed with Fischer.
That the condo association “turned to the courts to resolve what should have been an easy decision is a sad commentary on the litigious nature of our society. And it does a disservice to people like Deborah who actually are disabled and have a legitimate need for a service dog as an accommodation under the FHA,” he wrote.
Condo board members suggested that Fischer could get a smaller service dog, but Scola didn’t buy that argument.
After Scola ruled in the Fischers’ favor, their attorney negotiated a $300,000 settlement with the attorney representing Sabal Palm.
Fischer said Sorenson can recognize 40 separate commands.
“He has made my life so much better,” she said.
(Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Dietz)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, association, condo, condo association, condominium, countersuit, court, davie, deborah fischer, disabilities, dog, dogs, fair housing act, federal, fha, florida, golden retriever, judge, judge robert scola, labrador retriever, lawsuit, matthew dietz, mix, ms, multiple sclerosis, pets, robert scola, ruling, service, service dog, settlement, sorenson
Alanis Morissette says her housekeeper took her Chihuahua mix.
The housekeeper says the singer no longer wanted the dog and asked her and her fiancé — seen in this video explaining their side of the story — to take him.
Morissette and her husband, Mario Treadway, have filed a lawsuit, seeking $25,000 and the return of the dog.
Maria Garcia, the housekeeper, and her husband Patrick Murch, a dog walker, responded with this video, claiming Morissette told them the dog was “too annoying” to keep, and arguing the dog — given he was given to them and given they have cared for him for the past year — should be theirs to keep.
They say they asked Murch and Garcia to care for the dog while Morissette was on tour, for most of 2012.
Garcia house sat for the couple during the tour. When Morissette returned in early 2013, Garcia says she was asked to take the dog home with her because his behavior had become, in Morissette’s view, ”annoying and insufferable.”
Since March of 2013, Circus has lived exclusively with Murch and Garcia.
Garcia says Morissette was allergic to Circus, and that the dog was food aggressive and was relieving himself inside the singer’s house.
“Mario and Alanis were both frustrated with Circus’ behavior and said he was disruptive to their family, posed a risk to their other dogs and their child…”
In a blog called Help Circus Stay!, they add, “They gave him to us a year ago and he’s been with living with us since, happily, healthily and loved by his little family. Now they are trying to rip our family apart!”
Morissette and Treadway fired Garcia in January of this year, and filed the lawsuit seeking the return of Circus a couple of months later.
After the housekeeper and dog walker posted the video last month, Morissette and Treadway further complained that, by doing so, they have made the dog a target for dognappers, TMZ reports.
Treadway filed additional legal documents in which he said Circus “is not merely a piece of property. He is living and breathing.” Each day he is separated from the dog, he said, “[my] heart suffers more and more.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alanis, alanis morissette, animals, behavior, caretaker, chihuahua, circus, custody, dispute, dog, dogs, fight, given, housekeeper, issues, lawsuit, los angeles, maria garcia, mario treadway, mix, morissette, ownership, patrick murch, pets, singer, stolen
A homeowner’s association at Paradise Lakes Resort doesn’t have weight limits when it comes to human residents, and we guess that’s a good thing — even though the condo community is a clothing-optional one.
But the association’s rules run a little stricter for dogs, including one that bans any dogs over 25 pounds — apparently even when it’s a guide dog that belongs to a legally blind resident of the nudist community.
By now you’ve probably guessed that this can only be happening in Florida, specifically in Lutz, where a homeowner’s association has told Sharon Fowler she needs to get rid of her black Labrador, Laura, or move out, according to a lawsuit.
Fowler filed a lawsuit against the association last year. It was dismissed by one judge, but now that dismissal has been overturned by an appeals court, and Fowler has renewed her fight to keep the dog she says she can’t get around without.
“She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles,” Fowler told the Tampa Bay Times. “She’s 100 percent necessary to me. She’s my lifeline.”
According to a lawsuit filed last year, Fowler received a letter from the association telling her to get rid of the dog or move out.
The association said the dog violated their weight limits — something that wasn’t pointed out when Fowler filled out an application, disclosing the dog’s weight, when she moved in.
Even when Fowler provided documentation of her disability, the association did not withdraw the notice of the violations, according to the lawsuit.
“I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded,” Fowler said. “I’ve never felt so degraded.”
Her lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for mental anguish.
“It’s the principle of the fact,” Fowler’s husband, Craig, said. “The board needs to know they cannot bully us around.”
Fowler says she has been told to only walk the dog in specific areas, and stay out of the way of pedestrians. She’s also been told her dog is out of control, which she says is not the case.
“My dog is a highly trained service animal,” she said.
“Paradise Lakes Resort does not discriminate against any person with physical disabilities and does not prevent any person with service animals from visiting the resort,” owner Jerry Buchanan said.
Fowler’s accusations were directed at a homeowners condominium association not connected with the resort.
Fowler says she has a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which has already affected her sight and could affect her hearing.
She doesn’t want to move because she has learned her way around Paradise Lakes, and appreciates being able to live in a clothing optional community.
(Photo: Fowler and Laura; by Brendan Fitterer / Tampa Bay Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assistance dogs, association, black lab, blind, clothing, clothing optional, community, condo, dog, dogs, florida, guide dog, lab, labrador, laura, lawsuit, legally blind, lutz, nudist colony, nudists, nudity, paradise lakes resort, pets, rules, service dogs, weight limits
When NFL defensive lineman Michael Bennett left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year to join the Seattle Seahawks, he left his dog behind.
As his new team ran up a record that may see them heading to the Super Bowl, his boxer puppy, named Koa, languished in a Tampa boarding kennel.
Bennett, according to a lawsuit, apparently didn’t get around to transporting the dog to his new home, or paying the dog’s boarding fees, or returning the kennel’s calls.
A lawsuit filed by the kennel, Lucky Dog Daycare and Resort, is seeking $5,000 to cover the costs for Koa’s care and expenses related to finding him a new home.
Koa was four months old when left at the kennel, in March, 2013.
In the lawsuit, the kennel claims the puppy was so distraught after being abandoned, he “eventually began refusing to eat, losing his hair and clearly failing to thrive.”
Seattle Dog Spot reported back in November that Bennett, despite his $5 million a year salary, had neither reclaimed his dog nor paid for the dog’s boarding.
TMZ reported last week that the kennel had filed a lawsuit. Bennett hasn’t responded with his side of the story.
Subsequent reports — though we see it as an unfair stretch — have compared Bennett to a certain Philadelphia Eagles (at last report) quarterback, whose name and dogfighting conviction we won’t mention, given he has ”reformed” and “paid his debt to society.”
The kennel, through a boxer rescue organization, has found Koa a new home. He has been renamed Quigley, and is said to be thriving with his new owner, described in one report as an out-of work puka shell salesman.
That may not be the life of luxury the dog could have had with a professional football player.
But, honestly — and here comes my unfair but heartfelt generalization – if I were a dog, and had the choice of living with an NFL player or an out-of-work puka shell salesman, I’d pick the out-of-work puka shell salesman any day.
(Top photo: TMZ)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 13th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandoned, abandonment, adopted, animals, boarding, boxer, football, kennel, koa, lawsuit, lucky dog, michael bennett, nfl, pets, puka shell, rescue, salesman, seattle seahawks, tampa bay bucaneers
Two months after being put down, a little shih tzu named Rollie is still causing big problems for – and leading to some positive changes in — Carson City, Nevada.
On July 25, Jeraldine Archuleta’s lost dog was picked up and brought into Carson City Animal Services.
The next day, Archuleta tried to retrieve the dog but was told she needed to pay $100 within 72 hours.
Archuleta couldn’t come up with the money, and her requests for more time were denied. Rollie was euthanized by the shelter five days later.
The heartbroken pet owner wrote a letter to the editor about the incident to the Nevada Appeal, and its publishing prompting widespread public outrage. Last month, Gail Radtke, the manager of Carson City Animal Services, was fired. A health inspector was put in charge of the facility temporarily, and a second health department staff member was assigned to monitor front desk personnel.
All shelter staff are undergong new training, and policies are being reviewed as the city tries to ”refocus the directions and goals” of the department, it said in a press release.
This week, city supervisors voted to pay Archuleta $41,500 to settle a lawsuit she filed over Rollie’s euthanasia, according to the Reno Gazette Journal
Meanwhile another lawsuit is pending against the city, filed by Radtke, who says she was defamed and unfairly ousted from her job because of public outrage over Rollie’s death.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal services, animals, carson city, director, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, fired, lawsuit, nevada, owner, pets, policies, rollie, shelter, shih-tzu, training, waiting period
Justin is a stud no more, and the handsome Samoyed’s New York owners are suing his temporary caretaker for having him neutered without their permission, and refusing to give him back.
Cecile and Victor Stanton, of Jericho, N.Y., filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles last week against Beverly Jeffries of Pasadena, Calif., claiming she refuses to return their dog, whose official American Kennel Club name is Polar Mist You Gotta Believe.
The Stantons agreed to give temporary custody of the AKC-registered Grand Champion to Jeffries while they retained ownership, according to a contract signed in February and included in the lawsuit.
But, according to the lawsuit, when the Stantons asked for the dog to be returned in May, Jeffries refused, ABC News reports
In the lawsuit, the Stantons say Jeffries had Justin neutered without their permission in April.
The dog is worth an estimated $250,000, according to the suit — and his breeding value alone was worth $100,000.
The Stantons bought the dog in 2006, according to a certificate issued by the American Kennel Club.
The Stantons are suing Jeffries for $350,000, citing breach of contract, promissory fraud, and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress.
Neither Jeffries nor the Stantons could be reached by ABC for comment.
(Photo by Ken O’Brien, O’Brien Photos, via Infodog)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, animals, beverly jeffries, caretaker, cecile stanton, champion, dog, dog shows, justin, lawsuit, neutered, pets, polar mist, refuses, return, samoyed, victor stanton, you gotta believe
A Pennsylvania service dog agency is suing an Episcopal priest with cerebral palsy to force her to give up the service dog she has had since 2007.
So reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
The Rev. Claire Wimbush says it’s unlikely she could continue living on her own without Willa, a 10-year-old yellow Labrador retriever provided to her through Canine Partners for Life, a Cochranville, Pa.-based agency that says it wants the dog back for reasons not fully specified.
Canine Partners filed suit last month in Pennsylvania Supreme Court, accusing Wimbush of violating her dog care contract and asking the court to order the dog’s return — along with “reimbursement of all costs and expenses, including legal and court fees.”
Darlene Sullivan, executive director of Canine Partners, declined to comment on the specifics of Wimbush’s case, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The newspaper is owned by Gannett Co. Inc., and the Rev. Wimbush is the daughter of Gannett Vice President Jane Ann Wimbush.
According to the lawsuit, the Rev. Wimbush did not follow the agency’s training rules, including those that require recipients of its dogs to maintain contact through follow-up reports.
“If on repeated occasions there are problems with compliance, we will place that person on probation and they will get a letter explaining everything about why and letting them know if there are further violations they will lose their dog,” the agency’s director said. “If it gets to that point, and they refuse to return the dog to us, we have no choice but to take legal action.”
The Rev. Wimbush said she believes the agency wants Willa back because she was late turning in paperwork about the dog’s health and behavior. She said the documents were mailed on March 25, but Canine Partners didn’t get them by the April 2 deadline. An email from the agency came on April 4, saying arrangements needed to be made for the dog’s return. Six days later, she says, she received a letter telling her to bring Willa to the airport for “repossession.”
“I’m bewildered by this,” said Wimbush, who who has spastic cerebral palsy quadriplegia and uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility. Wimbush served as Curate of Christian Education at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Rochester from 2011 until last weekend, and is now planning to move back to her native Virginia to be closer to her mother.
On a website supporting her campaign to keep the dog, claireandwilla.com, the Rev. Wimbush notes that Willa’s status changed in February, 2012, when she retired from being a service dog and became a home companion dog:
“My ministry had changed; I was no longer moving from place to place over the course of a day, so I didn’t need her to help me carry things and open doors as often. The Rochester winters are tough on both of us. She was nine years old, almost ten; it seemed like the right time to make a change. Since her retirement, she gets to be petted and admired by all the members of my congregation, especially the elementary school crowd. She still goes with me to the church most days, and often accompanies me when I visit parishioners in animal-friendly retirement communities…”
The reverend admits to having had trouble keeping up with the agency’s required paperwork in 2007, due to illness. The lawsuit says she has had a history of not complying with those requirements. In 2009, the suit says, Wimbush was placed on “permanent probation” and told that any future violations would result in the immediate loss of the dog.
On the Facebook page of Canine Partners for Life, the agency is taking some lumps for filing the lawsuit against the handicapped priest, and some commenters are saying it is “shameful” for it to be demanding the dog back.
“What part of ‘for life’ am I missing?” one person wrote.
It’s unusual for an agency like Canine Partners to demand a dog be returned, according to Toni Eames, president of the International Association of Assistant Dog Partners, an advocacy group of people with guide, hearing and service dogs.
“It’s a very legitimate agency, and there has to be something, mistreatment of the dog, neglect, maybe it has gained a tremendous amount of weight or there’s abuse, there‘s got to be something. Filing papers late is not a reason to demand return of a dog,” she told the newspaper.
Marsha Sweet, assistant director of independent living services for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, knew of only two such cases, and both times an agreement was reached allowing the person to keep the dog. “Usually, the agencies really try to remedy the situation,” she said.
The Rev. Wimbush hopes that might still happen, and an agreement can be worked out.
“I would do anything, anything, to keep my dog,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: canine partners for life, cerebral palsy, claire and willa, claire wimbush, companion dog, democrat and chronicle, disability, gannett, lawsuit, pennsylvania, piscopal, priest, repossess, retriever, return, reverend, rochester, service dog, supreme court, wheelchair, willa, yellow lab