Service Animals and Disabilities

January 2020

A disabled individual requiring reasonable accommodation to enjoy their home is able to request exemption from condo community pet restrictions under certain circumstances.

Disabilities have a legal definition in Ontario.  Pets, typically dogs, with special training can assist individuals with certain disabilities.

Condo boards enforcing pet restrictions have an obligation to ensure a legal disability exists before granting an accommodation or exemption from condo rules.  Typically this comes in the form of a letter from a licensed (local) doctor, who has seen the individual, attesting to the need for a service animal and documentation that the pet in question qualifies as a service animal.  Condo boards can impose reasonable restrictions on service animals such as being on a leash in common areas or no excessive barking.  Typically these are reasonable restrictions for a trained service animal.

Emotional support animals, which can be a dog or any other pet, are a different matter.  They do not require special training.  The “disability” in question may not be legally recognized and may be an attempt to retain a pet not allowed under condo governing documents.