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legalgems, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10013
Experience:  Just Answer consultant at Self employed
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We live in a "development" governed by a "homeowner's

Customer Question

Hello, We live in a "development" governed by a "homeowner's association." We adopted a German Shepherd one year ago. My little girl accidentally let the dog escape several times and Xena (the dog) ran around the neighborhood each time, making it difficult to catch her. On one of these occasions, my dog nipped one neighbor who was trying to help us. Xena is very protective of my little girl so I believe she got confused and thought she was defending her. Then Xena ended up nipping another neighbor before we could catch her. Neither bite was serious but both people went to a clinic. We paid their bills. Animal Control was called. They put Xena on home quarantine for 10 days (no walks, no car rides, no dog park, no off-leash running in backyard). As soon as she was released from quarantine and we started walking her again, she escaped one more time. Here she was, running back and forth across the street, galloping along with a big smile on her face. The first neighbor who was bitten before said he was terrified. The "president" of the association said he was terrified! She was just releasing all of that pent-up energy and was feeling great! All of this happened in May. Xena has not gotten out since then but the HOA is telling us we have to "get rid of" her by August 1 (today). I have documentation from my doctor stating that I need my dog as an emotional support animal. Can the HOA do anything to me? Help! Thank you so so much.
Lorraine Cramer
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

Unfortunately Emotional Support Animals do not have the same protection as Service Animals. Even with service animals, however, a HOA or landlord can request the removal of the animal if there is a valid public concern. Unfortunately, even though the bites occurred a few months ago, they still did occur, and they are documented. As such, the HOA does not have much choice but to request removal of the animal, the reason being that if the dog bit a person again (even in the mistaken belief of defending a little girl) that person can sue the HOA and the HOA has an obligation to all of the homeowners to minimize liability. If the HOA continues to allow the dog to remain on the premises, and a homeowner reports the past incidents to the insurance, the insurance may even cancel their policy, based on the history and the HOA's failure to exercise due diligence.

So unfortunately, since the HOA has a fiduciary duty to all homeowners, it would generally be construed as negligence if the HOA failed to act in the case of an animal biting others on the premises.

I know this is not what you wish to hear, and as a dog lover myself I can only imagine your heartache (and your daughter's) but I have a moral obligation to provide accurate information. One can attempt to negotiate a compromise (ie using a shock collar that triggers when the dog leaves the confines of the specific home) but it would be up to the HOA to agree to this.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What about the fact that I need my dog as an Emotional Support Animal? Thanks
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

Unfortunately, that is not a blanket provision; for example, the HOA/landlord can refuse an emotional support animal if the dog creates a nuisance (the legal definition) which includes barking, or a public hazard (and the 2 incidents of biting would be the basis for that).

So unless one could convince the HOA that the dog has had training, or the aforementioned shock collar, and they agreed, then that may work; otherwise they are within their rights to request the removal of the pet.

Please see: (this covers service animals too)

Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

Hi- just checking in to see if you needed clarification on any of the above information. If so please post here (there is no additional charge for this) and I will do my best to get you the requested information.

Thank you!