SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A 9-year-old boy with cerebral palsy was forced to give up his service animal. His family says the place they were moving to wouldn’t allow the dog, but the complex tells a different story.
Emma, a pug, is the latest addition to the family, but Mike Brann says the family only got her after they were forced to give up his son’s service dog, Hazel.
“I told them we had medical documentation to back it up,” Mike said. “My son has medical chronic illnesses. They stated that regardless of their pet policy, there is no exceptions to it.”
Zachary’s dad says three days before they moved into College Park Manor they learned the complex wouldn’t allow Hazel, his 9-year-old service dog that weighs more than 25 pounds. The family didn’t have time to find another place to live.
“She’s more there to support him, emotionally and physically,” said Mike.
Doctors have recommended that Zachary keep Hazel to help with his cerebral palsy. So when Zachary was heartbroken when he learned he had to give her up.
The family surrendered Hazel to the Yuba County SPCA.
“He’s been having anxiety attacks. He’s been seen at Kaiser recently, and to be put on different medications because he is having more emotional meltdowns,” said Mike.
The family feels the complex is violating their rights. So they filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
“I don’t want them to keep doing this to other people,” said Mike.
However, the apartment manager says the family never told them Hazel was a service dog.
“We never heard of any companion animal,” apartment manager Terri Aragon said.
Days after the family surrendered the pet to the SPCA, the manager typed up a letter saying, “We only allow pets that are less than 25 pounds at maturity.”
However, off to the side in handwriting, she put, “including service animals.”
But now, the apartment manager says that’s not true.
“Well, I only wrote it because she asked me to do it. She said she was having a problem getting rid of her pet through the SPCA,” said Aragon.
Regardless, this dog fight has left Zachary without Hazel, a dog he had grown to trust. Now a 9-year-old boy struggles just to get through each day without his best friend by his side.
“I feel bad even talking about her right now, that’s how emotional I am,” said Zachary.
Even though Zachary’s family won’t be able to get Hazel back, they’re hopeful that at some point he’ll have the same type of bond with Emma.
Now the complex says they do allow service dogs that weigh more than 25 pounds. The family has learned that Hazel has already been adopted from the SPCA.