Three emotional support cats: Shuswap couple win legal fight with strata | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Three emotional support cats: Shuswap couple win legal fight with strata

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A Shuswap condo owner has won a legal fight with her strata over her three emotional support cats.

The issue arose when Zachary Lenius and Jennifer Schlosser moved into their Sicamous condo with their cats in 2020.

The strata had a bylaw that restricted condo owners to only having one cat or dog.

The strata then wrote to the couple saying they'd had a complaint and reiterated the one cat rule.

Schlosser provided medical documents from her family doctor and a social worker saying the three cats helped with her medical condition and sent the information to the strata.

However, the strata wrote back saying they couldn't allow three cats in a condo and suggested she take the case to a Human Rights Tribunal.

The strata questioned why she needed three emotional support cats and not just one.

READ MORE: Carport or pergola? B.C. couple win legal fight with strata

The couple then took the strata to the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal to fight their case.

According to a May 3l decision, Schlosser submitted two separate medical reports in her defence.

"(I) find this evidence establishes that Ms. Schlosser would suffer an adverse impact related to her disability if the strata does not accommodate her by permitting the three cats," the Tribunal ruled. "It was clear that the three cats are beneficial for her mental health, and that having to remove an animal would be significantly detrimental to her diagnosed medical condition."

In its defence, the strata said it held two meetings and put forward a resolution to amend the bylaw to allow for two cats, but neither vote passed.

"The strata relies on these failed resolutions as justification for its decision not to permit the applicants’ accommodation request," the Tribunal said. "I find this is not a justification for refusing to accommodate a disability."

The strata also argued it did not have to accommodate the three cats because Schlosser had the disability before she moved into the condo.

The Tribunal didn't buy it.

"The strata’s duty to accommodate does not depend on when the disability began," the Tribunal ruled. "I note that is not disputed that Ms. Schlosser’s disability is ongoing."

Ultimately, the Tribunal ruled the strata had failed to prove that allowing the couple to keep the cats had caused it "undue hardship."

However, while the Tribunal ordered the strata to permit Schlosser to keep her three existing cats, the order only extends to the cats she currently has.

READ MORE: Human Rights Tribunal rules strata can't ban emotional support dog

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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