Service Dog in Montana

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

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Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 5:52am PST 
Howdy, bit of a wall of text here

Currently i have an 8 month chihuahua in a place that does not allow pets. Knowing this i contacted the offices and let them know i am currently training my little puppy as a service animal. Apparently the person i contacted did not know her information and even though verified for me that my animal is alright i received a posting informing me that i would have to remove the animal or vacate the premises within a week.

To make matters worse, this notice was under a bunch of snow in front of my door and only found it when shoveling my front porch. So i can't contact them until 1 day before the "final day". In my family we deal with animals on a daily basis and have for years. Either in pet stores, training animals, or just the outdoors in general. I am very well informed of my laws in my home state of kentucky, as i've trained animals growing up. But i'm a little short on Montana codes

Now i do not have a disability (yet) my brother has severe arthritis and i have already developed moderate arthritis. I also suffer from a back injury that occurred in 2007, that although does not "disable" me progressively gets worse every year.

I started training this animal for myself knowing the amount of time it takes for an animal to learn and adapt, also the failure rate of some dogs being unable to fully become a service animal due to personality. The breed lives an average of 17 years and is good for picking up small items, fitting into smaller places, and moving among furniture.

Now for the questions. I read up on my new local laws and under Montana Code 49-4-214 subsection 3 it states

"A person who is training a service animal is entitled to the same rights and assumes the same responsibilities granted to a person with a disability in this section."

Full laws located below in case i missed something.
http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusmtguidedoglaws.ht m

Now i thought i finished this process once already, however being in such a rush with so little time apparently available i'd like to have all the information i can obtain in case things get sticky. I'd love to stay in my current residency but i'll move to a more expensive but pet friendly location if i have to.

Considering the laws, what are the chances that i'll have to move? I've called around to some pet friendly places and receive calls of needing "certifications" or "registration" of the service animal.. which is not federally required or locally required and informed them so much to their surprise.

Edited by author Thu Feb 17, '11 9:07am PST

Approved by forums moderator
Bella and- Daisy CGC

I'm a Meanie
Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 6:42am PST 
"Now i do not have a disability (yet)"

Therefore, you are not able to have a SD of any sort, in training or not.

I would be looking for a new home, pronto.
Daisy SD

Daisy May Murphy- Dog
Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 9:20am PST 
If your not disabled you cant have a service dog, However if you do become disabled in order to live in no pet housing with a service dog that may require a doctors note stating the dog is a medical need. but until then find the dog a home or move.

Makaveli PSDIT

I Can Has Lovin'- Nao?
Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 9:40am PST 
The dog is not considered a SD unless you have a disability and the dog is trained to mitigate your specific disability. Service Dogs do have rights in no pet housing, if the house falls under the FHA (fair housing act) The ADA does not protect Service Dogs In Training from no pet housing nor does the ADA protect Service Dogs from no pet housing, so it's important to know which law applies to what. The FHA protects our SDs from no pet housing.

What you could do, is get a letter from your Doctor stating that this dog is an Emotional Support Animal. That would allow you to stay at your current residence, as an ESA you will have protection under the FHA, assuming your property falls under that law. You will need to check if your place falls under the FHA, if it does you can get an ESA letter from your Doctor and stay. If not, sadly you will need to move.

That's your best option, because claiming that dog is a SD is being dishonest. Your better off telling the truth, you need the dog for emotional support at this time, and should your condition worsen THEN you may go about training this pup.

Edited by author Sat Feb 12, '11 9:42am PST

SHADOW - RIP 14 June- 2014

Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 1:36pm PST 
So true ... You must have a disability defined by the ADA. I'll be getting a SDIT by next Summer and my FHA complex is causing a stink about it. I told them that while in SDIT status he'll be a ESA by the Dept of Veterans Affairs medical team. They told me to get rid of either my ESA cat or my current SD. I then told them that Shadow will be my SD till he dies and that his duties will be confined to home tasks only. I will not get rid of my ESA cat that was prescribed by the Veterans Staff. They went on to say that the FHA has a limit... Lucky for me I brought the FHA laws w/ me to the complex manager and asked her "Show me in the regulations that there is a limit"? She said she would have to talk to the complex attorney. I told her that would be fine, but explain to them that my animals were prescribed by the US Government and if they want to go against the Feds then be my guest. That was 4 months ago and I haven't heard anything back. My primary will do the letter stating the cat and the SDIT will be ESAs and that the SDIT will be a SD in about 18 mo to 2 yrs. She'll also point out that the current SD will be an at home only SD till death.

So, until you're totally disabled you only have a pet that isn't allowed in your complex..

Shadow Walker
Makaveli PSDIT

I Can Has Lovin'- Nao?
Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 1:57pm PST 
Shadow, don't worry, we had the same problem. We are only allowed to have one dog, we have Mak and another rescue named Casper. You need to inform them that an ESA DOES NOT COUNT as a pet, nor do ESA's require the pet deposits because they are not pets. So legally, if they only say you can only have a certain number of animals, you can tell them that both Shadow and your cat do not count towards the number of pets allowed, because they are recognized as ESA's. I'm sure you know this, but they have no legal grounds and they cannot make you get rid of your animals. Sounds like you handled it yourself though, good job for standing up for yourself. way to go

Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 4:43pm PST 
I understand thats the normal situation in most states, again i asked about this law, as was pointed out to me by a medical professional.

(3) A person who is training a service animal is entitled to the same rights and assumes the same responsibilities granted to a person with a disability in this section.

This clearly states someone who is training a service animal and clearly has the animal marked as "In training" receives the same rights and responsibilities as someone who has a disability.

Below is #2 in the same section of law, as in number 3 it states someone who is training an animal is covered by the same rights as someone with a disability.

(2) A person with a disability who has a service animal or who obtains a service animal is entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations as provided in 49-2-305 and 49-4-212. The person with a disability may not be required to pay extra compensation for the service animal but is liable for any damage done to the premises by the service animal.

Now i'm not trying to have a pet, i'm attempting to train a service animal that i've already put work into. I just ask for help from someone who knows the service dog laws better then myself in this state. Simply stating i don't have a disability therefore its a pet would be correct in most situations and most certainly back in my home state thats true. However this is an abnormal law.

A true southern- belle
Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 5:47pm PST 
Honestly, you are taking advantage of the law and twisting it to suit you.
It was written for puppy raisers, service dog trainers who train dogs for others and owner trainers.
The law applies to public places. Living in an apartment likely doesn't fall under that. I don't believe the Fair Housing Act applies to service dogs in training. State law covers SDITs and varies state by state.
If you aren't disabled, you don't know what tasks you need to teach to mitigate a disability you MIGHT have in the future. A service dog isn't a service dog unless it serves a disabled handler.
Sorry, but you need to move or place your dog elsewhere.

Barked: Sat Feb 12, '11 8:27pm PST 
I'm sorry if you feel that way. This isn't my first service animal, and i'm already in quite pain due to my situation. I'm informed its not long now before he changes my prescription and surgery is needed.

I just needed some help is all, and now i'm not sure what to do. I thought that previous training and donation of animals to organizations would be beneficial experience because of my situation. I have the apparent lawful ability to get a headstart and have an animal when i need him and not 2 to 3 years after the fact.

I've dealt with this before, trying to assist people in my homestate of trying to get an animal when they need it and the disappointment that is received when they are told the estimated time on the wait list. Most people don't have the knowledge until they are legally disabled and told of their options.

I'm just disappointed as i was sent here from an old client of mine, she said they gave good information without the bias you receive from legalities. I'm not looking to twist laws to any other benefit but to assist me in my living. What good is a community if you jump on someone immediately for not fitting the standard? Is it so bad that i ask for assistance and i'm denied for not being the norm? These are the same questions those who requested a service animal from the organization i worked for asked.

I'm sorry, i'm a little worked up from frustrations. This was just a reminder of unfair treatment to others that i have seen in the past years. I apologize for any troubles i have caused and i mean no ill will, i will remove myself from this website.

Super Silver- Service Spoodle
Barked: Sun Feb 13, '11 5:47am PST 
No one wants you to leave dogster. WE just want to be sure that everyone is obeying the laws as they were intented to be obeyed. It comes down on everyone with a SD when one person stretches or tweaks a law for their benefit. If we don't want more strict regulations regarding owner-training and so on, I feel we need to be very responsible about it.

I think it is great you are getting a head start on training your dog in case you do become disabled. For now, though, if you don't have a disability, it's not a SD or SDIT. I'm sorry to have to say it so bluntly. I would recommend moving into a pet-friendly complex or looking into ESA status to stay in your current complex (though I believe you have to have a disability to have an ESA as well).

This exact type of situation is why we will always want to live in pet friendly housing-- I don't want to have to deal with this sort of thing as one dog retires or I start to train the next dog.
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