Resident Permitted to Keep Dog as an “Emotional Support Animal”

In the case of MTCC 584 v. Kakish, the condominium corporation’s Declaration and Rules contained provisions prohibiting pets in the units.

One of the residents had a dog. She provided three letters from her doctor, setting out her need for the dog. She also provided a further letter from her treating psychiatrist. The letters stated that the resident suffered from anxiety and depression and needed the dog as a support animal to help decrease her anxiety and depression, and to help her sleep.  

The condominium corporation argued that the letters (from the doctor and the psychiatrist) did not prove any sort of “disability” that the condominium corporation was obligated to accommodate under the Human Rights Code.

The Tribunal agreed with the resident. The Tribunal said:

In the medical letters provided, the treating doctor and psychiatrist set out the Respondent’s mental health conditions and diagnosis. They also described how the mental health conditions/diagnosis impair the Respondent’s functioning, and how Rocky (the dog) is a vital (sic) in managing her mental health. In my view, it cannot be said, as submitted by the Applicant, that the Respondent has failed to establish that she has a disability within the meaning of the Code.

The Tribunal allowed the resident to keep the dog as an “ESA” (emotional support animal).

In my view, this case confirms the rights of residents to keep emotional support animals (ESAs) under the provisions of the Human Rights Code, subject to providing acceptable medical evidence of a disability and the resulting need for the animal. At the same time, I think it would be appropriate for a condominium corporation to pass a “Service Animal Rule” and/or to ask the resident to enter into an “Accommodation Agreement” (designed to reasonably protect the rights and interests of the other residents, who prefer, or perhaps even need, to live on the property without being exposed to pets). Among other things, a “Service Animal Rule” might include:

  • Requirements that service animals not cause unreasonable noise or other disturbance to other residents.
  • Requirements that service animals be kept under careful control at all times while on the common elements.
  • Where reasonably appropriate, limits on the size and number of permitted service animals in a single unit.
  • A requirement that service animals wear vests when on the common elements.
  • Restrictions upon the movements of service animals on the property.
  • In some cases (where this can be shown to be a reasonable requirement), a requirement that service animals receive training (even though there is no provincial requirement for training of service animals in Ontario).
  • Any other reasonable restrictions that might be imposed by the Board.

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