An Iowa couple was reportedly evicted from their apartment due to the complex’s no-pets policy. The pair, who had been training a service dog for a combat veteran, had initially thought they would be protected by laws that permit service animals where other pets are not. The law, however, does not extend that far.
Christina Dimit, 18, and Bryan Stamper, 19, began training Lake, a 6-month-old golden retriever, in April for Urbandale-based nonprofit Puppy Jake, which provides trained service dogs to wounded veterans to assit with mobility issues and post-traumatic stress disorder. Volunteer fosters, like Dimit and Stamper, train the dogs for 18 to 24 months before they are transferred to their new owners.
“Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to train a service dog to give back to my community,” Dimit told The DesMoines Register. She is studying psychology and human services at Grand View University.
The pair, along with a representative from the nonprofit, says they informed their apartment’s management company months ago and thought they were in the clear, until last month when they were notified their lease would not be renewed at the end of July.
“After receiving multiple complaints from other tenants, it came to Northwest Property Management’s attention that Mr. Stamper and Ms. Dimit had a dog living with them in violation of their lease,” read a letter from Jonathan Schroeder of the Davis Brown Law Firm.
Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin filed an injunction to stop the rental company from forcing the couple to move, but it was denied by a district court judge last week.
“This is a really nasty thing to do to this young couple who’s trying to do something really kind for an injured war veteran for crying out loud,” Conlin said.
In dispute is a section of the Iowa Code that defines rights afforded to service dogs and their trainers. The law protects the rights of people with disabilities and those training service animals to be accompanied by the animals in a long list of public places.
Trainers, however, are not mentioned in the section requiring landlords to waive pet restrictions for service animals.