Doug Dawes, Your Personal Realtor® (Keller Williams Evolution -  447 Boston Street Topsfield, MA)

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Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Tampa, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Tampa Home Buyers

Any animal can be deemed a "service" animal.( which includes emotional support)  I did research for my blog and at the time there was no limit on what the animal has to be.  There is also no national directory, no requirements, or no mandatory training.

You also cannot ask about the disability or ask the animal to perform any duties.

Basically it is can buy any fake "service" papers or create your own.  The animal can go anywhere...airlines, buses, offices, resturants, churches etc. 

There was an article recently about an airline removing a "service pig" from the flight because they were disruptive.


Aug 01, 2017 07:51 AM
Ben DeHaven
Haven Realty & Investments - Winter Haven, FL
Proudly serving Winter Haven & Lakeland, Florida

They don't have a service cat, they have an "Emotional Support Animal"


"The only animals allowed to serve as service animals are any breed of dog and, in some cases, miniature horses. With respect to Emotional Support Animals, there are no species or breed restictions. Consequently, catsrabbits, miniature pigsferrets,birds, etc"

Aug 01, 2017 07:32 AM
Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

I have heard of service dogs who have a service cat to keep them calm.  What about a service mouse for the service cat?  Silly!

Aug 01, 2017 09:17 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

I'm in California ---  I believe there was a story of a service rat.   We had a tenant-landlord-eviction attorney speak to our office recently -- be mindful of local laws.   

Aug 01, 2017 08:19 AM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Service animals are not limited to just dogs.

Aug 01, 2017 10:18 AM
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

It recognizes all animals.  I've seen legit service pigs before.  You can't refuse entry or renting.

Aug 01, 2017 09:34 AM
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

This is becoming quite common and unfortunately, something that started out with good intent is being abused by some. 

Aug 01, 2017 09:19 AM
Theo Shaw
Baird & Warner Residential Real Estate - Evanston, IL
Serving Evanston, IL & Beyond

This is a very misunderstood issue.  There are two federal laws in play here: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and HUD's Fair Housing laws.  ADA covers public places, while HUD covers housing.  As Nina Hollander noted, ADA recognizes only dogs (and sometimes mini horses) at this time as service animals.  HUD accepts any conceivable critter as a service animal, like my emotional comfort snake, Fang.  (I was going to insert an image, but they all creeped me out, so I'll spare you the stomach churn.)  Landlords and condo associations must provide "reasonable accomodation" of people's disabilities AND their service animals.

These are laws we need to know.  HUD sends testers out.  There's a lot of liability if you were to refuse service to someone with a service animal and that's why there is so much abuse of these laws.  Everyone is scared.  Knowing the rules gives you a leg to stand on when you  meet these abusers.  They know they are taking advantage of people, but no one stands up to them, either out of not knowing what's correct or from over-politeness. 

Aug 01, 2017 02:08 PM
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty and Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

Doug Dawes is it a "service animal" or an "Emotional Support Animal"? There is a difference. Service animals are limited to dogs and sometimes miniature horses. Emotional support animals can be just about anything. I've literally seen turtles, llamas, turkeys, snakes, cats, etc. 

Aug 01, 2017 08:33 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

What  Mike & Eve Alexander said. 

 If you don't allow that cat, they will hire a lawyer to sue you.  And they will report you to some Federal bureaucrats.   

Aug 01, 2017 12:52 PM
Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Doug I am pretty sure cats and/or other animals could be classified as service animals.

Aug 01, 2017 09:36 AM
Teri Pacitto
Compass - Westlake Village, CA
Real Estate, Your Style...Your Home...My Specialty

Yes, it can be any animal and from all the articles I have read there do not seem to be limitations on what those are.  

Aug 01, 2017 08:54 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Wow, never had it happen. But, would not grant entrance without the permission of the seller and would ask buyer's agent for supporting documentation to present to the seller.

Aug 01, 2017 08:23 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

I do not believe there is such a thing - at least under the law. 

Do I believe there are people out there that are so attached to their pet (cat) that they believe they cannot go anywhere without it - perhaps PTSD or other reasons, yes. Yes, I do believe there are. 

I'd ask for a copy of the cat's service papers and advise the client that I will reach out to the seller and ask permission to show with your service cat.

Aug 01, 2017 07:22 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This will be a good blog topic for you. What documentation, if any,  is needed to prove that a pet is actually a service cat?

Aug 01, 2017 10:22 AM
Sharon Altier
Coldwell Banker Realty - Elmhurst, IL
Luxury Property Specialist, CSC, SFR

Doug Dawes Great subject to bring up....I pulled this up online...

Aug 01, 2017 10:18 AM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

learned something from Eve's answer....

Aug 01, 2017 08:20 AM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

I have seen a cat with a service vest. Seeing i learned you can pay for anything to be a service animal, i am a bit leary and feel for the people who have real service animals

Aug 01, 2017 07:40 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

I don't think cats qualify under the law. I would want to see any documentation. Ben DeHaven has a good point, as does Kathleen Daniels . I would check with the client, too.

Aug 01, 2017 07:38 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Anything can be a service  or emotional support animal.

And no certification is required on the animal, but the person does have to have a letter from their mental health professional certifying the need.

Research the laws well before wading into this mess.

Aug 01, 2017 09:09 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Yes, here in CA. I just listened to a webinar and domestic pets can be qualified as companions ( no need for special training). 

Aug 01, 2017 06:22 PM
Mary Yonkers
Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate - Erie, PA
Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor

Best to know the laws in local area as well.

Aug 01, 2017 01:51 PM
Christine Kankowski North SD and Temecula
House Match Inc - Poway, CA
Excellent Sales and Property Management

My Flight attendant friend told me about the service animal Monkey, who had its own service animal Cat, because the monkey go nervous on planes.  And she said the monkey pet the cat the entire flight.  How they got the cat to sit there, I dont know...

This doesn't answer your question, but.I had to share. 

Aug 01, 2017 01:20 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

What Mike & Eve Alexander said!

This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine - it's much like folks who are lazy and park in handicapped parking spaces. People don't think how their actions (buying fake licenses to have service animals or using grandma's handicapped placard) impact those who really do need service animals or are truly handicapped. 

And then as landlords, we can't ask about it? It's a system in SUCH disarray!

Aug 01, 2017 12:34 PM
Sandy Padula & Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Florida Realty Investments - , CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

We do not do rentals so reading with interest

Aug 01, 2017 12:27 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

While only dogs are considered service animals under the ADA (and some accommodations may be required for the use of some miniature horses), the Fair Housing Act has no such restriction.

Aug 01, 2017 11:22 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

I would find out right away but I bet there are 'comfort animals' now. I am saying that the laws apply to the town property is in. If they say dog, it's a dog. 

Are there service turtles?

Aug 01, 2017 10:27 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

We have an older woman who walks around in restuarant with a tiny poodle. When challenged she claimed it is a service poodle.   Now I hear cat miaoing inside a carrier.

Where is the paperwork? None.

Aug 01, 2017 09:49 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

Never seen one. Emotional support maybe but that is easy to obtain.

Aug 01, 2017 07:47 AM
Kathleen Luiten
Resort and Second-Home Specialist - Princeville, HI
Kauai Luxury Ocean Home Sales

Mike & Eve Alexander have the right answer on this one. Even a horse can be a service animal.

Aug 02, 2017 02:41 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Health vs. Health, owner wins.

Policy vs. Sale, seller loses.

Aug 01, 2017 06:54 PM
Abby Stiller
SW Florida (239) 284-8637

This is totally new to me . lol. I'll go with what Eve says

Aug 01, 2017 04:31 PM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

Yes there is, and many have given you the answers.  We have seen all types of pets on the plane with us.  A

Aug 01, 2017 04:00 PM
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

Thread very carefully on this subject my friend. I took a renewal class last year where a federal judge was the presenter. It's a can of worms. Especially if the person in question says that he/she has a service cat and it's confidential. You'll never see a physician's note that this person has a mental or emotional issue, that explains the 'service' cat.

And you want to stay out of the court room..... let the landlord/owner speak. Not you. 

Aug 01, 2017 02:38 PM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

What about the rights of the seller... let's say, for the sake of argument, that the seller is highly allergic to cats. Emotional support cat, or not.  Doesn't the seller have the right to say "leave your cat in the car"?

Aug 01, 2017 02:06 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

I figure only service dogs.


Aug 01, 2017 11:09 AM
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

mnay different aninals can be authorized service animals. Having a service animal doesn't mean everyone has to let them into their house.

Aug 01, 2017 10:53 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

The cat doesn't have to be called a service animal if deemed necessary for the emotional well being of the indiv

Aug 01, 2017 10:45 AM
Allie Angeloni
Long Realty - Oro Valley, AZ

Hmmm . . .  no clue Doug Dawes, but I have heard of other Service Animals, i.e., pigs.  I would love a Service Horse, but don't see that in my future!  Once Roger was done laughing . . .  just sayin' . . .  I will read replies below.

Aug 03, 2017 03:48 PM
Mike Pagozalski
Tallahassee Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Tallahassee, FL
Home and numerous specialty inspection services

LOL, I am pretty sure ADA requirements for service animals do not apply to private residences, and only dogs and maybe minature horses (don't ask me) are recognized as service animals

Aug 03, 2017 09:47 AM
Wayne Zuhl
Remax First Realty II - Cranford, NJ
The Last Name You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

It's a legal question, but, for my part, I would allow them access if (and probably only if since the owner doesn't want pets) they could provide service papers.

Aug 03, 2017 08:08 AM
Damon Botticelli
Silver State Realty & Investments - Las Vegas, NV
Realtor - Las Vegas Real Estate

Some states have their own laws that go beyond the federal guidelines, so be sure to know the laws in your state. One of the problems with the federal guidelines is that they require the housing provider to determine:

Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability — i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?


Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person's existing disability?

...and then go on to restrict the type of questions or proof the housing provider can request.


Here is a link to the federal guidelines:

In my opinion, it is not fair for the government (state or federal) to create ambiguous laws and then penalize property managers, Realtors and landlords for not making the right judgment call. If they're going to create the law, they should also provide a licensing procedure for the individuals to whom it applies.

If you want a handicap parking permit, you complete an application and have a health care provider sign to certify the disability and the state issues a permit. Why not the same with service animals? It just doesn't make sense to leave it up to a property manager, require the housing provider to defend their decision if called into question , AND penalize them if they didn't make the right call.


Aug 02, 2017 09:58 PM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel


Aug 02, 2017 06:02 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

I am pretty sure that it is not limited to just dogs. I saw a a comfort skunk. No kidding.

Aug 02, 2017 12:54 PM
Jennifer Mackay
Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582

I'm waiting for someone to come up with a service cock roach!

Aug 02, 2017 07:18 AM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

I would need to see the documentation for this.

Aug 02, 2017 05:17 AM
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR

An interesting situation.  As I was reading some of the comments we'll be discussing this t our meeting this morning.

Aug 02, 2017 03:25 AM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Doug Dawes - I am with you on that - Service Dog is what I have heard.

Aug 01, 2017 10:48 PM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Oh what a tangled life...

Aug 01, 2017 10:15 PM
Sandra Contreras-Donohue
Realty Masters & Associates - Corona, CA
Always Going That Extra Mile!

In California, no one can discrimnate against service animals.  A service animal can be any animal.  

Aug 01, 2017 08:53 PM
Esther Preston
Heartland Realty - Redmond, OR

Yes, My son and his family are profondly deaf, and they trained there cat to alert them when someone at the door or any strange noice.  The Cat will stand on his back feet and streach so he's real tall.  I have been baby sitting this cat for 4 years now. They told me to sign with the cat aka Clark untill they can take him.  They moved to Calif and there house fell thru at the last min..  

Aug 01, 2017 07:46 PM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Cat's are usually used for emotional issues especially for the young.

Aug 01, 2017 04:39 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

great question - I really enjoyed reading the answers

Aug 01, 2017 02:27 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Doug Dawes According to Mike & Eve Alexander and Ben DeHaven there is a such a thing as an "Emotional Support Animal".

Aug 01, 2017 01:54 PM
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Nope, it could be any critter with a certificate and you have to comply.

Aug 01, 2017 01:42 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Sure...its worth exploring

Aug 01, 2017 01:36 PM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

You stand correct Doug. Comfort or emotional needs animals are not recognized by the ADA as "service" oriented. Cats would definitely bring more trouble to the table rather than help the disabled. I see how our cat operates, even attempted to train her. The result would not be good if I was left in her paws!  


Aug 01, 2017 01:31 PM
Valeria Mola
SIB Realty - Miami, Sunny Isles Beach - Sunny Isles Beach, FL
305-607-0709 SIB Realty Condos for Sale and Rent

Cats are very therapeutic. Emotional support. That is cat job!

Aug 28, 2018 03:46 PM
Dave Halpern
Dave Halpern Real Estate Agent, Inc., Louisville, KY (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

People declare all sorts of things as service aides. There are no limits anymore. Everything goes. It's 1960's all over again.

Aug 08, 2017 02:42 PM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

This is tricky because of increasing tenant fraud claiming a service or emotional support animal to get around "No Pets" policies or fees in Pet Addendums.  The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) sets standards for service and emotional support animals and defines disability as "a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.  This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability."

1. I would forward the ADA's "Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals" standards booklet to your landlord clients.  See especially paragraph c) Housing. Download:

2. Use a "Comfort/Service Animal Addendum" to lease.  Here is a sample addendum for California.  Consult with your MAR Attorney Hotline regarding modifications required for your state.

3. “'document document document.' Keep good records, and document everything. So if you have a tenant who “suddenly” gets an “emotional support animal,” document the first time you noticed it. When you ask them about the animal and they claim medical need, ask for a letter from their prescribing physician. Document when you asked for it, and when you received it. It shouldn’t take more than a few days to receive, especially if it is a legitimate need. If it goes beyond a week, document that as well."

4.  Do Your Due Diligence.  “I run searches on all the medical providers and the requesting parties to see what I can find.  I have made familial connections and found things on Facebook that contradict what is said in the medical statement.  In those cases, I usually ask for clarification and many times the request is dropped."

For ex, prospective tenants submit rental application including a pet dog but do not claim dog as a service animal or mention ADA Act.  Tenants then present pet dog as scheduled for meeting with landlord.  Again tenants omit claim for service dog.  During lease negotiatons tenants suddenly claim pet dog is a service animal but present no documentation. Landlord remarks that during their meeting tenants did not exhibit symptoms of disability (this is not a criteria under ADA) and that dog bore no identification as service animal. What to do? Time to contact your state Attorney Hotline.



Aug 05, 2017 09:56 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Have not heard of a service cat, but would imagine this could be.

Aug 04, 2017 09:34 AM