Question: We own a small eight-unit apartment complex in north Phoenix. The lease prohibits any pets more than 25 pounds. One of the tenants in this eight-unit apartment complex has a German shepherd. The tenant says that for health reasons he needs this German shepherd. He has a letter from a doctor stating that this German shepherd is a service (or “assistive”) animal to assist in the treatment of the tenant’s anxiety. The other tenants are complaining about this German shepherd who has growled at small children, but has never been aggressive. One tenant is even threatening to move out. Is there anything that we can do?

Answer: Probably not. Under federal law, if a medical provider certifies that the service animal is necessary for the comfort or assistance of a tenant, there is no breach of the lease for having a service animal, even if the service animal growls at small children. Service or “assistive” animals have been certified for tenants who have problems with blood sugar, allergies, drugs, and even bed bugs.

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