Disabled woman says landlord charging fee for service dog she needs

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A disabled woman living in North Memphis says she needs a service dog for health. But her apartment complex says she is not allowed to get one until she pays a pet fee.

Kimberely Smith says she began having strokes three years ago and since then, she depends on her wheelchair.

“I just be at home suffering,” she said. “About to have another stroke right behind it.”

Smith experiences frequent headaches. She can’t walk much on her own without her foot brace and chair and struggles with her speech.

She says doctors told her to consider getting a service dog. But she says when she told her landlord, the landlord told her she had to pay a pet fee, but didn’t show her any paperwork.

Smith says the landlord lives on the property on Greenlaw Avenue. We went by the apartment and didn’t get an answer. We also called the owner registered online and left a voicemail.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, by law, people with disabilities who have a service animal should not be charged a pet fee or deposit.

Christina Clift, a consumer advocate at the Memphis Center for Independent Living, said a lot of landlords want to charge for service animals for someone who is asking for a reasonable accommodations.

“They’re not pets at that point, they’re working service animals,” Clift said.

She says a dog would be a good addition to the family and a healthy one they could all depend on.

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