County to sue condo group over chihuahua

April 2, 2011 at 4:30 PM

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla., April 2 (UPI) -- Officials in a Florida county have agreed to sue a condo association on behalf of a woman prescribed a dog as an "emotional service animal."

Phyllis Schleifer said she obtained her chihuahua, Sweetie, in 2008 on the advice of doctors but the Ventnor "H" Condo Association has been fighting her to get rid of the pet in the no-dogs-allowed complex, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Friday.

Schleifer was diagnosed with severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder related to a car accident she was involved in and the death of her husband of 42 years in 2005. Broward County commissioners agreed Tuesday the chihuahua is a legitimate service animal as Schleifer is seen as disabled in the eyes of the court.

County officials said the lawsuit is the first prescription pet lawsuit officials to gain the county's backing after investigators determined the association's actions violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the county's Human Rights Act by trying to force Schleifer to get rid of the dog.

Officials said the case will likely cost taxpayers between $15,000 and $50,000.

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