Woman Reportedly Faces Eviction Over Service Dog Violating Her Lease

| by Kathryn Schroeder
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A woman is reportedly facing eviction for allowing her daughter’s service dog to visit her home.

Dawn Zammuto, 48, allowed her daughter to visit her home for five days in August with her service dog, according to Central Zammuto cares for her daughter’s sons, aged 4 and 2.

The lease on the new home was signed in July by Zammuto, and it stated pets were not allowed.

Zammuto’s daughter, Jessica Botto, suffers from conversion disorder, wherein psychological stress presents in physical ways and requires use of a service dog. At times, Botto cannot walk and requires the use of a wheelchair and a service dog.

Botto was at her mother’s new home to help her unpack and had brought her 8-year-old Australian shepherd-Husky mix Gracie Goose, a licensed service dog, with her.

The landlord of the mobile home community claims Zammuto violated her lease even though it was a service dog on her property.  The lease clearly states no pets allowed, no exceptions.

“They said this is not what we agreed to in the lease,” Landlords Oakley and Donna Brann’s lawyer John Martin said. “They were never informed prior to her moving in about her daughters and the use of service dogs. They’ve got nothing against service dogs and nothing against Ms. Zammuto.”

Maine law states under Title 17, in subchapter Model White Cane Law, that “every blind or visually handicapped or otherwise physically or mentally disabled individual who has a service animal, such as a service dog, is entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations,” reports Central

The owner of the service dog is liable for any damage that may be caused to the premises.

The law does not consider previously signed lease agreements.

Donna Brann asked Zammuto about the dog after it had been at her home for two days. Zammuto told her it was a service dog for her visiting daughter and that it would not be living there.

Brann told Zammuto she had violated the terms of her lease and the dog had to leave.

“I went to him and said, ‘Can’t we work this out? How can we make this better? I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you or offend you, but my daughter is disabled.’ He said, ‘I want you out,’” Zammuto said.

Zammuto explained that her daughter would visit once a month on a weekend and that her other daughter, who also uses a service dog, would visit once a year at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The Brann’s were not interested in negotiating the matter.

Zammuto was served with a seven-day notice to quit the property on August 12 but remained living there.

A report from the Maine Sun Journal says it came about because other neighbors complained and wanted to have pets as well.

Zammuto has filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission over the eviction.  She has enlisted the help of Pine Tree Legal Assistance.