The Bonne Terre City Council again discussed the emotional support animal policy that was tabled from the March meeting.
The policy in question was whether to allow animals into the city-owned Parkview Apartments, specifically rabbits. There are currently no pets allowed.
“I’m an animal person too, and I had to give up my cat to move here," a member of the audience said.
She said that there are many factors that make pets problematic from a renter’s perspective, in particular how they can damage carpets.
“Pets have accidents, odors, hair, and whatever else,” she said. “And when that person moves out, that carpet is still there.”
Someone else raised the point that having no pets was a policy, and the contract they signed when they moved in says,“no pets.”
Ward 1 Alderman Bruce Pratte concurred that everybody who lived in the apartments had already signed a no pets policy. Some signed up specifically for that reason.
“And we’re just going to turn around and let pets in,” he said. “I just don’t feel right doing that.”
Another audience member asked that if pets had been allowed, whether the individual would have to pay for the pet, or if the apartments in general would have more expenses. The council assured her that only the individual would.
If nobody made a motion to change the condition, then Pegram suggested they ought to table the matter for later discussion.
Alderwoman Andrea Richardson offered to end the discussion, despite her being in support of having animals.
“I would rather us just not table,” she said, “that way it’s not just an ongoing thing.”
Pratte made a motion to disallow animals and leave the policy as it has been. All but one board member voted to approve that motion.
As defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is one trained to perform specific tasks. Examples are guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, or alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) on the other hand states "assistance animals" may also be allowed, who have a much broader definition than service animals. The FHA defines them an animal who “works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.”
The only exceptions to the no pets rule would be on a case-by-case basis, according to Pegram. So far, the resident in question did not provide additional information except that the resident needed an “emotional support animal.”
“The city of course will comply with the ADA,” Pegram said, “but there is still some disagreement surrounding the FHA.”