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Condo association to brain injury victim: no companion dog for you

Unfortunately, when someone suffers a brain injury, the consequences can last a lifetime. These might be very noticeable issues, such as a permanent disability, seizures, limited mobility or memory loss. Or, the long-lasting symptoms of a brain injury might rest further beneath the surface--manifesting in depression, anxiety or social isolation, among other things.

Even minor brain trauma can have affects like those listed above and others. Because of this, those who sustain brain injuries often need a lifetime of care in one form or another. This care is, of course, expensive, and this means it is vital for victims of brain injuries here in Michigan to have advocates who will ensure they receive the support that they deserve. Currently, one brain-injured woman is finding herself in the midst of a massive legal battle simply because her neighbors have a problem with her owning a companion dog.

The 55-year-old woman is disabled, and she is a longtime resident in a Minneapolis condominium. As a result of brain damage, the woman reportedly suffers from depression, anxiety and social isolation and her doctor, psychologist and social worker have each recommended that she get a companion dog.

Companion dogs are often recommended as a therapeutic treatment for those with brain damage. These specially trained dogs help improve the self-esteem and social skills of those with depression and other disorders.

The condo building that the woman lives in, however, has a policy against dogs, and the condo association has refused to make a disability accommodation in this situation.

A discrimination lawsuit has now been filed against the association on the woman's behalf, arguing that every day the woman goes without a dog the association is in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the state's Human Rights Act.

What comes of this case remains to be seen, but it is a good example of the uphill battle that brain injury victims face. Even something that seems so simple--like getting a dog, receiving prescribed therapy--comes with roadblocks.

It is important that brain injury victims, and their loved ones, are aware of their rights and stand up to protect them.

Source: Star Tribune, "Cat in condo? OK. Companion dog? No way." Dan Browning, Sept. 14, 2012

  • Our law firm helps secure compensation for those who suffer brain injuries. To learn more about this area of our practice, please visit our Detroit Brain Injury page.

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