Dogged Determination

Published March 14, 2012

Federal prosecutors are suing a Long Island co-op for trying to evict an elderly couple for buying a “comfort dog” in violation of the co-op’s no-pets rule.

When the couple moved into the co-op in 2006, its rules prohibited pets. But the couple bought a schnauzer anyway, on the grounds it helped the wife’s depression and relaxed her breathing. The wife, Sandra Biegel, also suffered from diabetes and hearing and vision loss. The co-op sued for eviction, and the couple gave up the dog. Mrs. Biegel died in 2007.

Now the feds have brought suit under the Fair Housing Act, alleging the co-op discriminated against the couple. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for the couple’s pain and suffering.

The woman’s husband complained to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2008, alleging the co-op failed to provide a “reasonable accommodation” for his wife’s disability. The U.S. Attorney agreed: “Sadly, Mrs. Biegel’s final days were bereft of this vital assistance.”

Source: John Marzulli, “Feds sue L.I. co-op for threatening to evict couple over woman’s ‘comfort dog;’ Prosecutors say housing complex discriminated against disabled woman,” New York Daily News, February 14, 2012 h/t