They aren’t called man’s best friend for nothing. Much more than mere companions, dogs have long been integral partners in some of humankind’s most important activities, from raising livestock to enforcing the law. For people with disabilities, service dogs can be a literal lifeline, helping them live and work in ways they otherwise couldn’t.
Unfortunately, the role of service dogs isn’t always understood, and their presence isn’t always appreciated. In 2013, attorneys in our Wilmington office came to the defense of a disabled military veteran whose landlord threatened to evict him for having a service dog. Thankfully, our advocates could rely on a powerful law to make their case for our client: the federal Fair Housing Act, which was passed in 1968 as part of the Civil Rights Act.
In part, the law defines unlawful discrimination as the refusal of a landlord to make “reasonable accommodations in rules”—in this case, a ban on pets—for people with disabilities. With this clear-cut language on their side, our attorneys were able to convince the landlord that allowing our client to stay in his home, with his service dog, was a reasonable accommodation he was required to make under federal law.