Civil Rights

Feds File Fair-Housing Suit Against NY Co-Op Over Its Refusal to Allow Mini Schnauzer 'Comfort Dog'

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A federal prosecutor has filed suit against a New York housing co-operative, contending that it violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a miniature schnauzer “comfort dog” as a reasonable accommodation for a resident’s disabilities despite a no-pets policy.

Sandra Biegel died in 2007 at age 74, a month after her family gave up the miniature schnauzer due to threats of litigation and fines by Woodbury Gardens. However, the U.S. Attorney’s office is suing the Long Island co-op in federal court in Brooklyn, seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering, according to the Associated Press and the New York Daily News.

It appears that the suit also is seeking compensation for $2,305.48 in legal fees and fines allegedly paid by Biegel’s husband to the co-op after the dog was gone and his wife was dead, under threat of eviction and litigation by the co-op to recoup its enforcement fees.

Attorney Mark Schneider represents the co-op. He said it disputes the allegations and will not litigate the case in the media.

Related coverage: “County Backs Lonely Widow’s Right to ‘Prescription Pet,’ a Chihuahua, in Her Fla. Condo”

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