Ruling: dog helps woman's depression

Aug. 10, 2004 at 4:01 PM

DETROIT, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A Detroit woman, who said her dog, Max, helps her battle chronic depression, has won her day in court and may keep her Shih Tzu.

The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and a circuit court judge have ruled Christine Emmick, as a disabled person, is entitled to keep her dog in a "no pets" apartment because Max helps her deal with depression.

The apartment complex "refused to reasonably accommodate her mental disability by allowing her to keep a dog," the civil rights commission ruled -- a violation of the state's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.

In addition to being allowed to keep Max in her apartment, the commission awarded Emmick $107,749 in damages and attorney fees.

"The dog, as far as the cooperative is concerned, is nothing more than a pet," said the apartment complex's attorney Patrick Rode. He said the ruling "opens the door to anybody who wants to bring a cat or dog into a restaurant" in Michigan, since restaurant owners are subject to the same disability laws as apartment building operators.

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