DEERFIELD BEACH (CBS4)- Broward County is suing a condominium association on behalf of a Deerfield Beach widow after the woman said the condo does not allow her to keep her ‘prescription pet.’
The move come after 68-year-old Phyllis Schleifer’s doctors prescribed a pet for depression. His name: Sweetie, a Chihuahua. But when Schleifer brought home the dog, the Century Village condo association did not approve.
“She’s my heart!,” Schleifer said. “She’s my heart.”
The association had a ‘no-dogs-allowed’ policy and was unable to change their policy, even though Schleifer had a doctor’s note saying she needed him as an “emotional service animal.”
Schleifer said her condo mistreated her and made her neighbors pay for the legal fight. She said her neighbors mistreated her after she applied for the pet waiver.
She claimed that someone, an unknown person, even pushed her down a flight of stairs. One man even answered her smile in the elevator with the response “f— you,” she said.
After filing the suit, commissioners agreed Tuesday that the Broward County government will sue Schleifer’s Ventnor “H” Condo Association on her behalf.
Schleifer was in a car accident and then several years later, in 2005, lost her husband of 42 years. She suffers from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to county documents.
The disability is a legitimate disability in the courts’ eyes. And that’s why the county said she needs Sweetie.
“I lost my husband, I’ve lost my mother who was the best woman, my best friend, I lost my dad; I lost so much and she is here for me,” Schleifer said.
It’s an unusual move to push a case onto Broward taxpayers. Additionally, county officials said Schleifer’s case is their first prescription pet.
The case is expected to cost the county between $15,000 and $50,000, the Sun Sentinel reported.
But the county has no choice, and is obligated to file the lawsuit because of its contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides funding for the arrangement.
Condo residents who want prescription pets may find it more difficult than they though. First they have to file with the county’s Civil Rights Division, which must find “reasonable cause” of a violation of the law. Most cases then settle before moving to the lawsuit stage, county officials said.
The attorney for the association said they have no official proof she has a medical condition – and no evidence that Sweetie is actually a trained service dog.