Nudist Community Tells Woman Her Service Dog Has To Go

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A Florida nudist community informed a tenant that she would have to get rid of her service dog because she’s larger than 25 pounds.

Sharon Fowler, who is legally blind, is suing Paradise Lakes Resort after they told her she’d have to get rid of her service dog Laura or move out.

The Pasco County condo association says all pets must be 25 pound or less, but Laura isn’t a pet.

About four years ago, Fowler was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels that destroys her veins and capillaries. It has already claimed her vision and she says her hearing is next.

"She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles," Fowler to the Tampa Bay Times. "She's 100 percent necessary to me. She's my lifeline."

Before she moved into the community, Fowler says she passed a background check and filled out paper work, designating that she requires a service animal and what Laura’s weight is. Her application was approved.

Then she was informed in August 2012 that the association wanted to address the issue of her dog “immediately.”

She was issued a notice of violation, according to her lawsuit. Even though she provided documentation of her disability, she says it wasn’t enough.

"The association kept demanding more proof of her disability," said Fowler's attorney, Jessica Thorson. "She is legally blind."

"I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded," Fowler said. "I've never felt so degraded."

She says the condo association president, Lisa Caruso, told her the dog is out of control.

"My dog is a highly trained service animal," Fowler said. "She is not out of control."

She claims other tenants now bully her, accusing her of not picking up after the animal.

She doesn't want to move because the community fits her lifestyle, but she says she wants the harassment to stop.

"It's the principle of the fact," said her husband, Craig Fowler. "The board needs to know they cannot bully us around."

Sources: Tampa Bay Times, Florida Times-Union