FLORIDA’S EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL STATUTE – PART ONE

Florida now has a statute that clarifies what associations should and should not do when someone asks to have an emotional support animal in a “no pet” community.  We will try to answer  a lot of your questions over the next two or three weeks regarding what you can and cannot do when an owner or renter asks to keep an emotional support animal.

The statute is 760.27.  It defines an “emotional support animal” as follows:

(a) ”Emotional support animal” means an animal that does not require training to do work, perform tasks, provide assistance, or provide therapeutic emotional support by virtue of its presence which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.

So, the big difference between a “service animal” and an “emotional support”: animal is that the emotional support animal needs no training whatsoever, while the service animal needs to be trained to help the person with their disability.   Florida only recognizes two animals that are capable of being trained in this fashion and those are dogs and small horses.  Emotional support animals can be any animal.  That’s why we see emotional support crocodiles, pigs, squirrels, hedgehogs, etc.

Can the Association Charge that person extra for having an emotional support animal?

  • No.  The statute states that:

such person may not be required to pay extra compensation for such animal.

Suppose the animal is dangerous or becomes dangerous?

The statute states that the association may:

Deny a reasonable accommodation request for an emotional support animal if such animal poses a direct threat to the safety or health of others or poses a direct threat of physical damage to the property of others, which threat cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation.

I will tell you that if the animal is a properly trained service dog, you will never have this problem.

So remember, even if after the Board approves the animal, the animal barks, bites or otherwise becomes a nuisance, the association can have the animal removed.

Nest week we will start with what the Board can do when an owner makes a request for an emotional support animal.

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