Q: How can I respond in a way that both addresses the accusations/complaints, and encourage them to leave me alone?
I have recently moved into an appt in the beginning of last month, and have my two ESA dogs with me. Within the first week, my dogs got into a fight over a toy and it resulted in my need to call for emergency services as I had been injured trying to break it up. After communicating to the leasing office about what happened, their lawyers sent me a letter stating that there were several complaints and that I will need to get rid of the dog that started it. I do not like that my new neighboring residents have made a complaint to where I feel watched and judged, resulting in the environment here hostile. I love my dogs and that was their first fight. Other than that incident, they are essential to help treat my several disabilities. I now feel very uncomfortable and bullied into making a decision about them.
In California, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are protected under housing laws. However, if an ESA poses a direct threat to the safety of others, landlords may have grounds to request its removal. In your situation, it's crucial to address both the legal and community aspects.
Firstly, respond to the lawyer's letter by acknowledging the concerns raised. Explain the incident as a one-time event and emphasize your commitment to ensuring it does not recur. Provide evidence of your dogs' essential role in your disability treatment and their general good behavior.
Consider offering a plan to prevent future incidents, like additional training for your dogs or measures to avoid conflicts. This shows your proactive approach and responsibility as a pet owner.
To address the discomfort with your neighbors, you could try to communicate with them directly or through the leasing office. Express your understanding of their concerns and share your efforts to prevent future issues. This might help ease tensions and foster a more harmonious living environment.
Lastly, it's important to understand your rights regarding ESAs and housing. If you feel unfairly pressured, consulting with an attorney experienced in disability and housing law can provide guidance on how to protect your rights while addressing the concerns raised.
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