Your SD/ESA Pet Resumé

While there are laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities to keep service animals and emotional support animals, even in most housing with pet restrictions, there are several reasons why you should put together a resumé for your SD or ESA rather than arguing about laws or threatening to sue.

First, not all housing is subject to the Fair Housing Amendments Act. Some landlords do not have to permit SDs or ESAs.

Second, you are going to have a long-term relationship with this landlord. It is in your best interest that you be on good terms with one another. You stand a better chance of being on good terms if you are polite and sweetly persuasive instead of confrontational and demanding. If a polite and persuasive request will get you the accommodation you seek, it’s worth it to go that route just for the sake of peace between you and the landlord.

Third, federal disability laws, including the FHAA, are civil laws. That means the police do not enforce them. They are enforced by courts. A landlord can evict you, even if you would eventually win in court on a case of discrimination. These housing cases often take years to resolve. So if you are going to fight it in court, make sure you have an emergency housing plan in case you get evicted or it just gets unbearable to stay.

Finally, even if you win your point in the end, that landlord will have an incentive to scrutinize everything else you do to find another way to get you out of his hair. That’s stress nobody needs.

Your best course of action is to be very calm and polite and persuade your landlord that granting you this accommodation won’t cause him any hardship and will make him a pleasant and responsible tenant (you). Make your request in writing. Make it short and to the point, but polite. Include a copy of your doctor’s recommendation that states you are disabled and why the animal is necessary. Include a pet resumé to show that your animal won’t cause the problems the landlord may have experienced with other tenant’s animals in the past.

A pet resumé allows you to present your landlord with a summary of your emotional support animal’s best qualities, as well as examples of your responsibility as a pet owner. Use this opportunity to play up the qualities your ESA has that landlords will appreciate. You don’t need to include all of the items suggested below, and shouldn’t feel bad about not having ALL of them because very very few ESAs would have them all. It is presented as a guide to help you think about what information or characteristics you might want to include to persuade your landlord to make this exception. It’s up to you to choose which things will show your ESA in his very best light.

What about your ESA will make him or her a good tenant?

– Is your ESA mature, quiet, calm, or less active?
– If your ESA is active, explain how you meet his exercise needs.
– Is he of a breed or species known to make good pets?
– Is he particularly well suited for living in an apartment? Has he lived in an apartment before?
– If your ESA is a dog, has he been to obedience school, or had other special training?
– If your ESA is a cat, is he litterbox trained and does he know to use a scratching post?
– How do you keep your pet clean and free of parasites, like fleas, ticks, mites, and worms?
– What do you do with your ESA when you travel or are away at work?
– How often do you clean your litter box (for a cat), or scoop poop (for a dog)?

Does your ESA have any references? (If so, they should be attached to the resumé)

– Does he have letters of recommendation from previous landlords?
– Does he have letters of recommendation from previous neighbors?
– Does he have a letter of recommendation from his vet stating he is healthy and well-behaved?
– Do you have a current health certificate from your vet or other proof of vaccination?
– Does he have a letter of recommendation from a trainer?
– Does he have a letter of recommendation from his groomer?
– Does he have a certificate of completion of an obedience class? Any titles or awards for obedience?
– Does he have a Canine Good Citizen Certificate or an American Temperament Test Society certificate?

Biographical Information

– Include an attractive photo of your ESA and describe his personality and how much his presence adds to your life. This adds human interest and makes your ESA real to the landlord.
– Describe how he helps you deal with the effects of your disability.

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