AP

Landlords grapple with rise in emotional support animals

Mar 24, 2019, 11:43 AM | Updated: 7:45 pm
emotional...

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah landlords say an increasing number of renters are claiming their pets are emotional support animals and not subject to pet deposits and pet rents.

Landlords are struggling to determine which renters legitimately need the pets for medical reasons and which renters have fraudulently obtained a license to have an emotional support animal, said Paul Smith, executive director of the Utah Apartment Association, which advocates for landlords, the Deseret News reported .

“I can’t go 30 minutes any time I’m around landlords without someone bringing up assistance animals,” Smith said. “That’s the No. 1 issue for landlords. Landlords want to accommodate people with disability, but want to cut down on fraud.”

To call a pet an emotional support animal, people are required to get a letter from a therapist or doctor that states they have an impairment that limits their ability to perform life activities.

But the Deseret News found it is easy to acquire a letter online for $100.

Utah lawmakers this year passed a new law stiffening penalties for emotional support animal fraud. The new law made it a Class C misdemeanor to lie about the need for an emotional support animal or misrepresent a pet as being an emotional support animal.

Tiffany Thayne, 25, of Provo, said her therapist recommended an emotional support animal to help with anxiety, depression and PTSD that she developed after a car accident in high school left several of her friends seriously injured and one person dead. Her symptoms became worse after her sister died last year.

Thayne, a geology major at Brigham Young University, lives with her collie puppy named Dusty at an apartment complex in Provo. She says Dusty helps her mentally and physically.

“He makes it so I exercise at least twice a day,” Thayne said. “When I don’t feel like getting out of bed, I have to get out of bed to take care of him.”

Thayne said it’s sad that people are abusing the system.

“It makes it harder for people who actually need the dogs,” Thayne said.

Analisa Uribe, 21, has a miniature dachshund dog named Winston that helps her with anxiety, depression and PTSD that started after her father committed suicide when she was a child. Uribe said she was in a “dark place” and having suicidal thoughts when she moved from Oregon to Ogden, Utah, for college. Medicine her doctor prescribed made her feel like she was in a fog. Her dog provides real relief and seems to instinctively know when she needs soothing.

“If Winston sees that I’m upset, he will climb up on me or lay on my chest,” Uribe said.

Therapist Jeffrey Gregson, of Fruit Heights, Utah, said he’s careful not to provide letters to people who don’t really need emotional support animals.

“I have had many requests, but only granted a few,” Gregson said. “I’ve had many millennials ask for it, often unwarranted. I find it beneficial for those who are alone and suffering from depression.”

Smith, of the Utah Apartment Association, said landlords want to accommodate people who truly need the animals but don’t want to turn a blind eye to fraud.

“Our frustration is not that we don’t think there are people who genuinely need one,” Smith said, but added that the “animal has to be a medical necessity. We don’t think that definition is met most of the time.”

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Dozens of mourners gather for a vigil near Central Avenue and St. Johns Avenue in downtown Highland...
By MICHAEL TARM, KATHLEEN FOODY and STEPHEN GROVES Associated Press

Police: Parade shooting suspect contemplated 2nd shooting

The suspect in the Highland Park parade shooting confessed to police that he fired on the crowd, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
19 hours ago
This June 5, 2013, image provided by the California Department of Water Resources shows a drip irri...
JESSICA DAMIANO Associated Press

Tips for growing a healthy garden during drought

Watering needs for plants could increase during periods of extreme heat, when the soil dries out more quickly.
2 days ago
Two members of the FBI move items from the scene at the Highland Park shooting...
MICHAEL TARM, KATHLEEN FOODY and STEPHEN GROVES Associated Press

Police: Gunman fired more than 70 rounds at July 4 parade, 7 dead

Police gave no motive for the attack in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on Chicago's north shore.
2 days ago
Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has gobbled his way to a 15th win at the Natha...
By JENNIFER PELTZ and JULIA NIKHINSON Associated Press

Joey Chestnut is chomp champ again in July 4 hot dog contest

NEW YORK (AP) — Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut put a protester in a chokehold while gobbling his way to a 15th win Monday at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, powering down 63 hot dogs and buns at the annual exhibition of excess. In a decisive chowdown comeback, women’s record-holder […]
3 days ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the Ports America Chesapeake 4th of J...
BOBBY CAINA CALVAN ASSOCIATED PRESS

A turbulent US this July 4, but many see cause to celebrate

July 4 has arrived as many citizens struggle to find a reason to celebrate. Yet many also see cause for celebration, including President Joe Biden.
3 days ago
A Navy soldier stands guard as authorities wait for the arrival of people who were evacuated from t...
Associated Press

Tropical Storm Colin brings rain to Carolinas, weakens

Tropical Storm Colin formed along the coast on Saturday. Conditions are expected to improve by Monday's Fourth of July celebrations.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Landlords grapple with rise in emotional support animals