I recently received a call from a colleague who works in property management. He manages an upper-scale apartment complex that doesn’t allow pets.

One woman in the building had either a cat or a small dog (I don’t recall), and management had contacted her about the violation.

They approached the woman living in the apartment building, and insisted that she remove the pet from her apartment. However, instead of getting rid of the pet she submitted a letter from her licensed counselor stating that she had a mental disorder (general anxiety disorder) and that her pet was a “comfort animal,” that was important for her mental health and well being.

Pets can be very therapeutic. That said, it seems that if you reside in an apartment complex that doesn’t allow pets, you’re not going to be able to integrate pets into your treatment.

Any number of things can provide comfort: having a hot tub can provide comfort, as can burning candles and incense, loud music, painting your walls pink. However, if these things violate your lease you can’t have them—and pets are no exception to the rule.

Comfort pets they aren’t therapy or treatment for a mental disorder. If they’re not allowed where you live, kindly chose another evidence-based treatment.

Want to know what happened in this situation?

Fearing a legal battle, property management dropped the issue immediately. But, as you’d expect, it grinded their gears (and also upset other residents).


What do you think property management should have done in this situation? Did they make the right call?

Am I being too harsh in my thoughts against using the “comfort animal” reason to get around apartment complex rules for pets?

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Dr. Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore, PhD

Anthony Centore, PhD, is Founder and Chair at Thriveworks — a counseling practice focused on premium client care, with 340+ locations across the US. Anthony is a Private Practice Consultant for the American Counseling Association, columnist for Counseling Today magazine, and author of "How to Thrive in Counseling Private Practice". He is a multistate Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and has been quoted in national media sources including The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."