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Can I force my landlord to ban my neighbor's service animal?

Asked by user in California.

I have lived in an apartment complex for 14 yrs. There are no pets allowed in the apartment complex. I was walking back to my apartment and came upon a young woman walking her huge pitbull. The dog saw a squirrel and went to chase it up a tree. The young woman could not control or stop her dog. I sent an email to the office. They sent me a response that her dog was a comfort support animal and their hands were tied until the dog bit someone. My last neighbor brought her golden retriever into the apartment and laughed about getting a service animal note online. Does this dog have more rights than I do?

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

Under both federal and California law, service animals must be allowed in apartments even if the apartment complex otherwise prohibits pets. Keep in mind that any kind of animal can be a service animal (including a pitbull).

However, under federal law (specifically, The Americans with Disability Act), a landlord can ban a dog if the dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, has a history of such behavior, or is not under the control of the handler.

Accordingly, if you are bitten by the dog, you would be able to sue both the owner of the dog and the landlord for your injuries. Short of being bitten, you may be able to get an injunction to force the landlord to ban the dog from the apartment complex. However, you would have to prove to the court that the dog presents an immediate and severe harm, which is very difficult to prove.

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