ORANGEVALE (CBS13) — A dispute over a soldier’s service dog has forced him out of his home after he says his landlord threatened to evict him because he thought the dog was a pit bull.

While Zorro isn’t a pit bull, both should have been allowed to stay.

Eric Salonga and his wife are in the process of moving after they say they ran out of options because the landlord refused to listen to them when it came to their service dog.

Zorro is a family member, friend and service dog to Eric Solanga, an Iraq War veteran coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He knows when something is freaking me out, and he’ll come and lick me,” he said.

For six months, the family lived with Zorro in an Orangevale duplex with no problems. Then the landlord saw Eric’s wife walking a couple of months ago.

“And he said, ‘That’s a pit bull,’ and my wife said, ‘No he’s not.’ It doesn’t matter anyway,” Eric said.

He says the shelter where the got Zorro listed him as a Jack Russell-Beagle mix, not a pit bull.

Eric told his landlord and gave him paperwork showing Zorro was also a service dog recommended by his doctor.

“Then we received a letter, and it was from his attorney, explaining why they wanted us to vacate,” Eric said.

He called a lawyer and was able to delay eviction, but didn’t have enough money to keep fighting and paying for a lawyer. He decided to voluntarily move the family.

We got answers, and found out a landlord can’t deny a tenant a service dog because of breed, only if the service dog is violent or destructive.

Eric says Zorro is neither.

“He’s an extension of me to help me out,” he said.

We tried to get the landlord’s side of the story, but he didn’t answer his door. His lawyer said he had no comment, since the family signed an agreement that they would voluntarily move out.

Eric says this has been tough on his family, and says people need to know what their rights are when it comes to service dogs.

“The worst part was hearing my daughter say she didn’t want to be homeless, and we tried to explain to her what’s going on even though we didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.

They are now in a new home where the current landlord has no problem with Zorro. All he wanted was to see paperwork and check out the dog, and everything was good to go.


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