No Pets Allowed? Condo Living With a Dog Can Be Tricky

Some people are getting their dog–or miniature horse–certified as a service animal to make their condo hunt a little easier.
Pet-friendly condo


Scoring a pet-friendly condo can be difficult–so difficult, in fact, that some people are finding creative ways to skirt the restrictions.


First, we started running into dogs in boutiques, usually in a purse. Then they started popping up in hotels and restaurants. Usually small dogs, but occasionally some big ones, too. They’re mostly well behaved, they make their owners happy, it keep us from seeing pets locked in hot cars, and really, it’s become the norm.


But lately, we’re hearing them, too. Even in condominium buildings known for not allowing animals. So we started asking—how did you get approval for the dog? The common response: I had my dog certified as a companion or service animal (depending upon the person) and then the board had to approve it.


We wondered if that was true, and made a couple of calls. Did you know that only dogs and miniature horses are recognized as service animals in Hawai‘i? The real answer, according to the Hawai‘i Disability Rights Center, is this: Service dogs are allowed absolutely everywhere, under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. So condo boards are required to allow owners of these animals to bring them along. However, the situation gets a lot more gray when it comes to companion animals and therapy animals, which are not trained to perform tasks or otherwise functionally assist a disabled person, but rather provide emotional support, therapy and comfort. They’re not covered under the ADA, but it’s the position of the Hawai‘i Civil Rights Commission that, under Hawai‘i state law, assistance animals, including companion animals, should be allowed into housing as a reasonable means of accommodation. That position hasn’t been addressed by any Hawai‘i courts, though, so when it comes to walking a companion animal into a new condo, it’ll likely come down to management, board or homeowner’s association approval.


So is everyone submitting a doctor’s note for their precious Fluffy really on the up and up? Given how tight Hawai‘i’s housing market is, we’ll let you take a guess.


For more detailed information on the legalities of companion and service animals, check out this guide by the Hawai‘i Disability Rights Center, as well as this story by our sister publication Hawaii Business.


Editor’s note: This story has been amended to remove the suggestion that readers pursue companion-animal certifications to skirt housing rules.