ESA Weekly News November 11th: New Florida Bill to Combat Abuse of ESA Laws and ESA Chicken Case Goes to CourtReading Time: 3 minutes
There’s always something going on in the world of assistance animals. Today, we look at a proposed Florida Bill which aims to combat ESA fraud. We also bring you two emotional support animal news stories. The first is about a new case going to federal court involving four emotional support chickens. The second is a heartwarming (and funny!) story of a support kangaroo reuniting with its owner.
New Florida Bill Aims to Combat ESA Fraud
Rep. Sam Killebrew, a Florida lawmaker is pushing to see Bill HB 209 make its way into the legal system. The bill needs to pass two more committees before it reaches the House floor. It would give a landlord the right to ask a prospective tenant owning an ESA for written statement from Florida’s licensed mental health professionals (LMHPs) proving that the ESA was in fact prescribed by the owner’s LMHP.
This bill would make it harder for people passing off pets as ESAs in order to get into rented housing without paying a pet deposit, or if there is a “no-pets” policy in place. People with disabilities have the right to reasonable accommodation despite the fact that they have an ESA, but there is little legislature that allows a landlord to verify whether a tenant’s ESA is legitimate or not.
Killebrew hopes that this new bill “will give [a landlord] a clear way to verify” whether or not an ESA is legitimate.
Florida Woman Files Federal Fair Housing Act Lawsuit
Karen Morris has four emotional support chickens. They offer her emotional comfort to help her cope with her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recently, authorities told her she would have to relocate her hens and pay a $285 fine. She’s fighting back by taking her case to federal court.
The house Morris and her chickens live is her property. She pays a mortgage for her property in Fort Meyers. Local authorities told her chickens can’t live in the area, as they’re considered livestock, according to the zoning code. In turn, Morris says the Fair Housing Act (FHA) gives her the right to live with her hens.
Morris told news stations she has a letter from her therapist proving her chickens are for “emotional support.” But authorities weren’t moved by this argument. Now, over a year after the dispute started, the case is heading to court. The outcome could shape many future cases concerning odd ESAs in urban areas.
Emotional Support Kangaroo Hops Away and Is Found by Trooper
A trooper’s week started in a unique way when he found a kangaroo hopping down a rural road. The kangaroo had escaped from its home and had its owner worried sick.
Hoemann, the Missouri trooper, was dumbfounded when he came across the animal. To his surprise, the kangaroo was calm and easily got into his car. Hoemann covered him with his jacket until the kangaroo could be reunited with their owner.
As it turns out, the emotional support kangaroo managed to unlock the gate of its owner’s yard and hopped away. The owner was grateful to be reunited with their ESA, while Hoemann had an exciting start to his week.
CertaPet’s Thoughts on This Week’s News
CertaPet is always happy to hear of additions or amendments made to legislature which makes it more difficult for people to pass off pets as ESAs. Anyone with a diagnosed mental illness or emotional condition, who has a valid ESA letter from a LMHP in their state, has nothing to fear from this proposed bill.
We’re curious to see how Karen Morris’s case will play out in court. There are interesting arguments to be made from both the county’s and her side. If the judge rules in favor of Morris and her four emotional support chickens, it will be interesting to see how other cases will play out. What will persist, the Federal Housing Act or local zoning codes?
To avoid such complicated and draining situations, CertaPet only recommends getting traditional ESAs. A dog, cat, or the occasional bunny will not ruffle anyone’s feathers—unlike Morris’s ESA chickens.
It’s always great to see lost ESAs finding their owners. We can’t imagine what the kangaroo’s owner must have felt when she noticed her ESA was missing! In this case, we bet officer Hoemann will never forget this encounter.
If you’re struggling to cope with a mental illness, don’t despair. Animal-assisted therapy works and improves many people’s lives. Getting an emotional support animal could change your life for the better. CertaPet helps make that happen. To get started, take our 5-minute free pre-screening. We’ll connect you to a licensed mental health professional. They’ll have an appointment with you and may write you an emotional support animal letter if you qualify for one. You could be holding your furry companion in just a few days!
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