Kansas ESA Owner Sharing Her Experience Dealing with HUD and Landlords

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Hi, I have had Assistance Animals for a good chunk of my life, mostly Service Dogs, but sometimes an Emotional Support Cat has added a greater capacity to my daily living.

Because of my deep gratitude to each of the animals that have served me in so many amazing ways that have allowed, and continue to allow, me to fully live my life, I’ve devoted a portion of my time to particularly advocate for people with Emotional Support Animals in all kinds of housing, most especially here in Kansas where I live and worked for many years.

Kansas does not have laws that cover Service Animals in Training, Emotional Support Animals, or even Therapy Animals. Therefore landlords have had free reign for a good number of years to completely disregard the work these animals contribute to their owner/handler’s lives. I’ve made it ‘my business’ to challenge them, over and over again for 13 years, and never had a single one end up in court. I’ve even relentlessly challenged our very own high-rise complex (built to house individuals with disabilities and lower income families) along with the HUD Office, itself, in our area, whose office happens to be in that same high-rise. (Sad to say, our HUD was horribly notorious for refusing to allow Emotional Support Animals; they have mended their ways now and are very supportive thanks to A LOT of educational opportunities, lol.)

I give you this history not to toot my own horn, but just so you know I have experience ‘challenging the status quo’ behind me – just because it hasn’t BEEN allowed under our existing laws (or we don’t WANT to allow it so we’re gonna HIDE behide our exiting laws since we believe we have more influence and can intimidate this group of group of people that are, historically, easy to beat) doesn’t mean it CAN’T be done under them – before I give comment that has been deemed ‘advice’ in my state. With the question in mind regarding the spaying/declawing, while I can see a landlord’s having concern, I’d assert my need for the accommodation, even though you aren’t seeing your situation as the law is written, backing it with as much documentation possible you are willing to disclose, along with some that might help ‘educate’ in some ways, shedding light by example without giving up any personl information about your disability you’d feel unsafe in sharing or disclosing. Remember your landlord isn’t your best friend, but neither are most of them monsters when it boils down to it. Most of them just need a liitle help in moving off the platform so many of their fellow landlords are standing on without losing face in front of them. Showing them it’s somehow in their own best interest is a great tool. A particular strategy I have used over the years to help landlords in this situation, was to show the accommodation doesn’t place an undue financial burden on them.

I’ll have to be totally honest and tell you, though, when ‘push comes to shove’ (figuratively speaking of course) it’s usually my steady demeanor and unwavering stance against discrimination whispering in their ear, that me, and the person I’m working on behalf of, are willing to actually take it TO court that bothers them. For some reason, landlords just don’t like those words. Don’t let that make anyone reading this misunderstand the context and get too cocky about it, please! That can backfire on you real quick. I assure you, cool calm and collected manners are the order of the day, not getting hot under the collar. If you can stand up to a bit of pressure, you might need to rethink either your claim to the accommodation or your documentation for it.

Question posted by Kathy McNett . To post a reply or ask a question, please sign up here.

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