Public housing limits exempt service animals
All federal housing projects are allowed to have pets, and residents are to follow the rules of the Pet Policy, which says no pets over 20 pounds. Residents are to get forms from management to have their pets registered. At Koolau Villages we're given rules to follow, yet the managers don't seem to be enforcing them. Former and current managers are saying residents can have dogs over 20 pounds if they get a letter from their doctor saying they need them. Housing calls it "reasonable accommodations." Management said a resident can even have a Doberman. Would you help us get the correct information concerning this "reasonable accommodation" for dogs over 20 pounds? What is allowed?
Answer: Tenants in federally assisted housing projects, which are operated and maintained by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, are allowed to have these "common household animals and no other": cats, dogs, birds and fish.
While the federal government sets the pet policy for the federally assisted developments, it is enforced by the state authority.
Tenants in those projects, such as Koolau Village, may have more than one animal, but they cannot have more than one dog or one cat, specifically "only one four-legged furry, warm-bodied pet per household."
They can have one small or medium-size bird or two small, parakeet-size birds, and an aquarium not exceeding 25 gallons.
The cat or dog cannot be bigger than 25 pounds.
However, according to the "Pet Ownership Policy for Federal Public Housing Projects," the restrictions do not apply to animals used to assist the disabled, said Stephanie Fo, state public housing manager.
"Service animals are not subject to the pet policy," she said.
So a tenant could have a 50-pound Doberman, as long as the animal is a service animal, Fo said.
The Americans With Disabilities Act defines a service animal as one "individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability."
An animal that is a "comfort animal" would be allowed under the general pet policy but would be subject to the restrictions, Fo said.
Meanwhile, pets in general are not allowed in state public housing units, except for service animals.
The pet policy states that each housing project allowing pets "shall have the resident association and/or a project pet committee, which will consist of both residents who own a pet and those who do not own a pet, to participate in a pet monitoring program."
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