Therapy Dog vs Condo - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Therapy Dog vs Condo

WSVN -- To many people, their dog is a life changer. To some people, their dog is a life saver.

Claribel Ruiz: "I need that companionship of my dog."

Claribel's dog is named Sky.

Claribel Ruiz: "Because she is like the sky. She means everything to me."

Claribel suffers from anxiety and depression. Sky is a registered therapy dog, helping Claribel like medication or a psychiatrist might help another person.

Claribel Ruiz: "The dog helps me when anxiety kicks in. When I want to run out of the house, when I feel like I can't stay in one place, she calms me down. She stays by my side."

But Skys presence has left the Chancellor Hall Condominium Association yapping.

Claribel Ruiz: "The man, when he saw the small dog, he wanted us to take the little dog out."

The association doesn't allow dogs. So Claribel sent the condo president this prescription that says she requires the companionship of the dog, a letter from her doctor explaining that it's needed for her medical condition and they sent the registration papers for Sky.

The condo president's response:

Claribel Ruiz: "He says 'He doesn't want dogs here. That the law does not allow to have a dog.'"

The association then hired an attorney who sent this list of medical questions about Claribel for her doctor to answer. And the lawyer then asked Claribel to release all her medical records to the association.

Claribel Ruiz: "And if he knows and he likes to gossip the entire building will know about all the problems I have."

Claribel and her doctor would not fill out the paperwork. So she gave up and told the condo president she would get rid of sky. That wasn't enough.

Claribel Ruiz: "His response was 'That will work, but you have to be willing to pay our legal fees.'"

Claribel was stunned. Being asked to get rid of Sky and pay the associations attorney for trying to force her to get rid of Sky. That's when she decided to fight to keep Sky and called Help Me Howard.

Claribel Ruiz: "I appreciate anything Channel 7 can do for me."

Well Howard, this is Claribel, this is Sky. Does the dog have to leave the condo?

Howard Finkelstein: "No they do not. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, a therapy dog cannot be barred from someone's home, even if animals are not allowed. The problem is that associations have the funds to hire an attorney to frighten the pet owner into giving up their animal."

I spoke to the attorney for the association. Michael Bass told me we do not want to deny Ms. Ruiz the right to her dog but we need to see proof that she has a disability.

Howard Finkelstein: "And they don't have a right to get medical records for a person that has disability."

To fight the condo association, Claribel needed an expert and Matthew Dietz volunteered his time to help her.

Dietz specializes in helping people with disabilities. He says that the Fair Housing Act regulations were supposed to make it easy for someone like Claribel to have her dog. As to why associations ignore the regulations, he says they just don't know any better.

Matthew Dietz: "They don't get training. They don't get training as to what the Fair Housing Act is and they don't get training as to disabilities. They believe that their rules in some way come from a higher source than our federal laws.

Claribel now has some peace of mind because with Matthew Dietz's help, Sky wont be going away.

Claribel Ruiz: "I feel better. Thank you for helping me. The lawyer and Channel 7."

If Condo Association doesn't back down and Matthew has to take them to court and wins, they will have to pay his legal fees. And that can be expensive for an association.

Now if you feel like you are the victim of housing discrimination like Claribel, there is an organization called Hope that helps for free.

And finally, if you are curious, want to see the difference between therapy animal and service animals, it's all on our website at www.wsvn.com under Help me Howard.

Troubles dogging you? Need some assistance? Contact us. We don't do therapy but we do provide a service at a perfect price, free.

HOPE (Battles Housing Discrimination--for free)

Miami Dade 305-651-4673

Broward 954-567-0545

http://www.hopefhc.com/

HUD Bulletin on Service Animals and Assistance Animals

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=servanimals_ntcfheo2013-01.pdf

Contact Help Me Howard:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN

Broward: 954-761-WSVN

  • Out for JusticeMore>>

  • Alfred McCormick

    Alfred McCormick

    Saturday, July 26 2014 1:00 AM EDT2014-07-26 05:00:26 GMT
    Minister Alfred McCormickMinister Alfred McCormick
    He was a man of God, but early one morning Minister Alfred McCormick was gunned down in the street like a criminal. Maybe because a crook thought he was a crook he was looking for. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out For Justice, detectives are determined to find his killer, but they need your help.
    He was a man of God, but early one morning Minister Alfred McCormick was gunned down in the street like a criminal. Maybe because a crook thought he was a crook he was looking for. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out For Justice, detectives are determined to find his killer, but they need your help.
  • Qualecia James

    Qualecia James

    Friday, July 11 2014 11:30 PM EDT2014-07-12 03:30:24 GMT
    Qualecia James (right) and her daughterQualecia James (right) and her daughter
    Last March, an afternoon out with friends ended in a barrage of bullets for a pregnant Miami Gardens mother. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, detectives made an arrest in the case last week, but their work is far from over, and they need your help to bring in the rest of the killers.
    Last March, an afternoon out with friends ended in a barrage of bullets for a pregnant Miami Gardens mother. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, detectives made an arrest in the case last week, but their work is far from over, and they need your help to bring in the rest of the killers.
  • Benoit Lessard

    Benoit Lessard

    Monday, June 16 2014 11:13 AM EDT2014-06-16 15:13:54 GMT
    He bought his little spot in the sun. Retired Canadian Benoit Lessard loved to spend winters in South Florida, but as Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, a man with a gun turned his retirement heaven into hell. Fifteen years later, police are still trying to solve this cold case.
    He bought his little spot in the sun. Retired Canadian Benoit Lessard loved to spend winters in South Florida, but as Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, a man with a gun turned his retirement heaven into hell. Fifteen years later, police are still trying to solve this cold case.
  • Carmel on the CaseMore>>

  • South Florida Doctor Sued

    South Florida Doctor Sued

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:51 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:51:49 GMT
    7News has learned a South Florida doctor who is already being sued for inappropriately touching a patient, is now being investigated by police for the same allegation. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case with a 7News exclusive.
    7News has learned a South Florida doctor who is already being sued for inappropriately touching a patient, is now being investigated by police for the same allegation. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case with a 7News exclusive.
  • BADge Behavior: Miami-Dade Police officer cuts a deal after being accused of stealing gas from the county

    BADge Behavior: Miami-Dade Police officer cuts a deal after being accused of stealing gas from the county

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:15 AM EDT2014-07-23 04:15:18 GMT
    Former Miami-Dade Police Officer Rose StabioFormer Miami-Dade Police Officer Rose Stabio
    WSVN -- There is one less police officer in South Florida tonight. She has resigned in disgrace after being caught stealing gas. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
    WSVN -- There is one less police officer in South Florida tonight. She has resigned in disgrace after being caught stealing gas. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
  • Former State Corrections Officer Cleared in Shooting Death Outside Bar

    Former State Corrections Officer Cleared in Shooting Death Outside Bar

    Tuesday, July 8 2014 10:34 PM EDT2014-07-09 02:34:21 GMT
    Tonight there's a decision on whether to charge a former state corrections officer who shot and killed a man outside of a bar. Was it murder, manslaughter, or self defense? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero broke the story and is back On the Case.
    Tonight there's a decision on whether to charge a former state corrections officer who shot and killed a man outside of a bar. Was it murder, manslaughter, or self defense? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero broke the story and is back On the Case.
  • 7News InvestigationMore>>

  • Captain of Controversy

    Captain of Controversy

    Capt. Francesco SchettinoCapt. Francesco Schettino
    In Italy this week, the captain of the Costa Concordia began pre-trial hearings he hopes will convince a judge that the deadly shipwreck was an accident and not a crime. Earlier this year, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero traveled to Italy for an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino and now has a special assignment report on what he will be telling the court.
    In Italy this week, the captain of the Costa Concordia began pre-trial hearings he hopes will convince a judge that the deadly shipwreck was an accident and not a crime. Earlier this year, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero traveled to Italy for an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino and now has a special assignment report on what he will be telling the court.
  • Till Death Do Us Part

    Till Death Do Us Part

    Thursday, November 7 2013 11:54 PM EST2013-11-08 04:54:26 GMT
    Alejandra Apraez said her wedding was ruined when the florist she hired did not show up. Alejandra Apraez said her wedding was ruined when the florist she hired did not show up.
    There is very little that will match a bride's wedding day -- a day, months, even years in the planning -- and one South Florida woman's wedding was ruined when the florist didn't show up. Why? A death ... but was there a death? Tonight, investigative reporter Patrick Fraser has the amazing story in a report we call "Till Death Do Us Part."
    There is very little that will match a bride's wedding day -- a day, months, even years in the planning -- and one South Florida woman's wedding was ruined when the florist didn't show up. Why? A death ... but was there a death? Tonight, investigative reporter Patrick Fraser has the amazing story in a report we call "Till Death Do Us Part."
  • Blackwater Fever

    Blackwater Fever

    It was a terrible form of malaria that killed two men. Turning their internal organs black. In south Florida we have almost wiped malaria out but now the concern -- it's spreading around us and could hit us. As...
    It was a terrible form of malaria that killed two men. Turning their internal organs black. In south Florida we have almost wiped malaria out but now the concern -- it's spreading around us and could hit us. As Patrick...
  • Local NewsMore>>

  • UCLA wades through damages from pipe flooding

    UCLA wades through damages from pipe flooding

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:47 AM EDT2014-07-30 11:47:38 GMT
    LOS ANGELES -- The quiet summer campus of UCLA found itself suddenly steeped in water and chaos after a major water pipe burst and spewed some eight million gallons, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the school's storied basketball court less than two years after a major renovation.
    LOS ANGELES -- The quiet summer campus of UCLA found itself suddenly steeped in water and chaos after a major water pipe burst and spewed some eight million gallons, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the school's storied basketball court less than two years after a major renovation.
  • Homeless man arrives in Indiana after 7News viewer donates flight

    Homeless man arrives in Indiana after 7News viewer donates flight

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:11 AM EDT2014-07-30 13:11:57 GMT
    Jonathan Fischer and John Boggs Jonathan Fischer and John Boggs
    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A homeless man who was rescued from attackers by a Broward Sheriff's Office detective received a special gift from a sympathetic 7News viewer, which allowed him to return home to his family in Indiana.
    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A homeless man who was rescued from attackers by a Broward Sheriff's Office detective received a special gift from a sympathetic 7News viewer, which allowed him to return home to his family in Indiana.
  • Dogs rescued in Hialeah ready for adoption

    Dogs rescued in Hialeah ready for adoption

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:06 AM EDT2014-07-30 13:06:32 GMT
    MIAMI -- Dogs that were rescued from a South Florida home are now happy and healthy.
    MIAMI -- Dogs that were rescued from a South Florida home are now happy and healthy.
  • Help Me HowardMore>>

  • Can't Help Kids Learn to Swim

    Can't Help Kids Learn to Swim

    Monday, July 28 2014 11:37 PM EDT2014-07-29 03:37:03 GMT
    It's part of being a parent: teaching your kids to ride a bike, to play sports, to swim. But how would you feel if you were told, "Stop teaching your child to swim?" When it happened to one South Florida father, he was stunned, and turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for some answers.
    It's part of being a parent: teaching your kids to ride a bike, to play sports, to swim. But how would you feel if you were told, "Stop teaching your child to swim?" When it happened to one South Florida father, he was stunned, and turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for some answers.
  • Found Savings Bonds, Can't Find Owner

    Found Savings Bonds, Can't Find Owner

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:57 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:57:35 GMT
    It's what some people dream about: finding an envelope filled with money. One South Florida woman did find it in a parking lot, but she wasn't dreaming of riches. She was determined to find the owner. She couldn't, so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    It's what some people dream about: finding an envelope filled with money. One South Florida woman did find it in a parking lot, but she wasn't dreaming of riches. She was determined to find the owner. She couldn't, so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
  • Finding a Burglar

    Finding a Burglar

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:39 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:39:48 GMT
    Loretta Clark's diamond necklace.Loretta Clark's diamond necklace.
    When his wife passed away, he was devastated. Today he feels even worse, because a necklace she loved, that was left for him, was stolen by a crook who broke into his home. So many people in South Florida are crime victims, but what can you do? It's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    When his wife passed away, he was devastated. Today he feels even worse, because a necklace she loved, that was left for him, was stolen by a crook who broke into his home. So many people in South Florida are crime victims, but what can you do? It's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Powered by WorldNow

WSVN-TV
Sunbeam Television Corp
1401 79th Street Causeway
Miami, FL 33141

Switchboard: (305) 751-6692
Newsroom: (305) 795-2777

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSVN. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.