A sprawling housing complex in the Bronx has been fined $85,000 for not allowing residents to keep emotional-support dogs.
The company that manages Co-op City was fined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for denying two clinically depressed residents their pets.
"They told me I had to get rid of my dog or I was going to be evicted," Kisha Maddox, one of the residents, told NBC 4 New York. "There was no options there. I couldn't get rid of my heart."
Co-op City has a strict no-dog policy, but federal law requires housing providers to make accommodations for disabled residents.
Maddox fell into a deep depression after her sister died, and her doctor suggested she get a dog for emotion support.
"It brought life back," Maddox said of acquiring her Maltese JoeJoe. "I go outside, I feel the need to get up and do things. When I come home, he's happy to see me. There's someone here that enjoys my company as much as I enjoy his company."
A HUD official agreed, saying that emotional-support pets are no different from service dogs for blind people.
"Victory was definitely won for me and JoeJoe," said Maddox.
A lawyer for the management company says the firm adopted a new policy in December that has led to more accommodation requests being granted.
That's also good news for Figgy Newton, a Chihuahua-whippet mix. Now both Figgy Newton and JoeJoe can sit and stay.
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