One question that has been popping up recently is how pet limits apply to assistance animals. As I have written about before, pet limits in the form of breed and/or weight restrictions do not apply to assistance animals (i.e., you cannot deny a resident’s assistance animal because he is a German Shepherd or otherwise on your restricted breeds list). The logic behind these rules is that assistance animals are not viewed necessarily as “pets,” but more along the lines of an auxiliary aid—similar to the way you would view a wheelchair or a cane.
This same logic also extends to the number of assistance animals allowed per resident or per unit. While it is common practice for many apartment complexes and management companies to set a limit on the number of animals allowed in a specific unit, if an animal has been verified as an assistance animal they cannot be counted towards the pet limit.
Where the confusion usually comes is when you factor in additional animals that are solely pets, and not assistance animals. A quick example might be illustrative here. Let’s say a resident moves into a unit, bringing along with her three Labrador Retrievers. The resident provides documentation from her medical provider verifying that one of the dogs is an assistance animal, while two of the labs are merely pets. In this case, she has met the pet limit with the two labs that function as pets—but since the other animal has been verified as an assistance animal, the resident has not exceeded the pet limit. Accordingly, the property must allow all three animals to live with the resident.
So what’s the bottom line? Are apartment complexes going to become taken over by dogs? Perhaps. But, at some point it will obviously become a health and safety issue for the resident if there is an exorbitant number of animals living in a unit. All of that being said, the main take-away from this post is that when dealing with pet limits and pet policies, it is important to remember that assistance animals are not considered “pets,” and you cannot discriminate against or deny a resident due to a request for multiple assistance animals.