A disabled and formerly homeless U.S. veteran of the Iraq War has been refused housing because of his service dog.
The veteran, Derek E. Kolb, has filed suit against realty company Texas Realty and Management (Tramco), claiming that their refusal to give him housing violates the Fair Housing Act. Kolb had allegedly used Tramco in order to find a rental home for $1,100 per month in Houston. Kolb claims that his Tramco agent denied his application after viewing an image of the service dog he was intended to receive.
Kolb, who suffered from debilitating PTSD after suffering an injury in Iraq in 2005, was scheduled to get the dog from the “Train A Dog — Save A Warrior” program. The dog was a husky mix named Balto, although Kolb’s Tramco agent believed the animal to be a different breed when he sent her a picture.
“Ms. Ayers emailed the picture of Balto to Cindy Garcia, the office manager for Tramco,” the complaint reads. “... Ms. Garcia indicated that Balto looked like a ‘German Shepherd so answer is no.”
According to Pet Partners, the Fair Housing Act claims that an individual requesting housing with a service animal requires that “the person must have a disability,” that “the animal must serve a function directly related to the person’s disability,” and that “the request to have the service animal must be reasonable.”
The third qualification of the law is incredibly vague, and Tramco’s defense might be to state that the request to have a dog of that size in the home was unreasonable.
Kolb eventually found another rental property, but is paying $100 extra per month and is farther away from his family and his medical services. He was since issued another dog by the Save A Warrior program, which Tramco reportedly also deemed too aggressive. He is seeking punitive damages in the lawsuit.