Administrative Housing Tribunal | The autistic woman can restrain her dog

A girl with autism spectrum disorder is able to keep her dog despite the refusal of the owner of the building in which she lives, the Administrative Housing Tribunal has ruled.

Posted at 12:00 am

Alice Girard-Bosse

Alice Girard-Bosse
The Press

“I was really relieved to be watching the dog. Olivia is also very happy, ”exclaimed Larissa Jean-Baptiste, the young woman’s mother. For months, M.ME Jean-Baptiste fought so her 11-year-old daughter could hide her little dog at their residence in Verdun, where they had lived for nine years.

A few years ago, a social worker suggested the family adopt a dog to reduce the stress and anxiety of their daughter Olivia, who has autism spectrum disorder. But the steps to get a dog help have proven difficult. “The waiting lists for all programs are closed. We can’t register,” Larissa Jean-Baptiste said.

This is particularly the case with Mira’s service dog program for children with autism spectrum disorder.

We closed the list two years ago because there was already a four-year wait.

Sara Pontbriand, communications manager at the Mira Foundation

Same story for Les Chiens Togo, which offers its services to people with generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or autism spectrum. “Now we have so many families and beneficiaries waiting and until our list shrinks, we won’t be able to accept new people into our program”, we read in an automated message in response to the email. on The Press.

A discharge considered abusive

In September 2020, after months of research, they were offered by a family friend Mafalda, a small old Yorkshire dog. Olivia was delighted. “For an autistic child, predictability is important, so the fact that he already knows the dog, that he has met him before and that he loves him, is already very much an advantage for him,” Ms.ME Jean Baptiste.

At the time, the social worker suggested a calm, medium-sized dog that the woman could hug. Mafalda met all the criteria. So the mother hurried to notify their owner via email of the cat’s adoption. “He immediately refused and invited me to find another place to live,” he recalls.

MME Jean-Baptiste offered to provide her with medical documents proving her daughter’s benefits of getting the animal. In response, the landlady asked him for a $ 2,500 deposit, the woman said.

He didn’t want us to mess on the floor. I asked about my rights and found that it was not legal.

Larissa Jean-Baptiste

The owner would have said he was willing to accept the animal, as long as the family signed a discharge, supporting the woman. Several clauses were outlined there, most notably the obligation to sand and varnish the floor when he left the apartment. In the case of the death of the animal, the tenant cannot replace it unless the owner’s permission has been obtained again.

For meME Jean-Baptiste, there was no question of signing this discharge, which he considered abusive. After discussions with the Office des personnes Handicapés du Québec and the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, he decided to take steps with the Tribunal administratif du logement.

Legal victory

At the end of April, the verdict fell. Young Olivia got the right to keep her dog, to the delight of the whole family.

In the decision, that is The Press consulted, stipulated that “the landlord allows tenants to keep their Yorkshire breed dog for the needs of their daughter living with autism spectrum. Tenants can replace the animal without allowing the owner of a dog of the same size or a different breed of dog to be recommended by specialists or professionals working with people with the autism spectrum.

“I won the dog for my daughter, but I also won peace of mind,” M said.ME Jean-Baptiste, remembering that the steps were not easy.

This story hurt me. It is very stressful and demanding to have an autistic child. All these steps gave me anxiety, stomach ache and insomnia.

Larissa Jean-Baptiste

She hopes her story will help other families.

“I want my actions to help all other parents of children with autism or disabilities, so that they do not experience abuse or discrimination from their owner,” he concluded.

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