The Georgia Straight
Tribunal orders strata to allow owner’s three cats
Jennifer Schlosser needed three cats since she was a teen. She has an anxiety disorder, and the animals calm her. The pets provide her emotional support. In 2020, her husband, Zackary Lenius, bought a home at a townhouse complex in the B.C. resort town of Sicamous.
Not long after the spouses moved in, the strata notified Lenius of a complaint regarding the cats. The strata corporation’s bylaws allow only one pet per lot.
Lenius responded by saying that he and his spouse have a right to keep the cats under provincial human rights legislation.
That’s the Human Rights Code, wherein Section 8 states that no person should be denied service, accommodation, or facility on the basis of disability.
The dispute eventually reached the online Civil Resolution Tribunal.
In her reasons for decision, Kate Campbell, vice chair of the tribunal, noted that the CRT may or may not choose to resolve a row that involves the human rights code. Campbell exercised the discretion to decide the matter. And she did so in favour of the woman keeping her three cats.
The spouses provided a May 20, 2021, letter from a B.C. family physician identified only in the reasons for decision as Dr. McKeough. The physician wrote that Schlosser has a “diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder”. McKeough agreed with previous health care recommendations regarding her treatment.
“It is clear that her 3 cats are beneficial for her mental health, and that having to remove an animal would be significantly detrimental to her diagnosed medical condition,” the doctor wrote.
The spouses also provided a May 25, 2021, letter from a Saskatchewan family doctor identified only as Dr. Adetola.
The physician “diagnosed Ms. Schlosser with moderately severe anxiety disorder in summer 2020, and that Ms. Schlosser had obviously had the condition for much longer”.
Campbell accepted Adetola’s position that Schlosser had “found therapy” with her three cats, which she had used for a “long time since she was a teenager”.
“I find that the uncontradicted evidence of Dr. McKeough and Dr. Adetola establishes that Ms. Schlosser has a disability, for the purposes of section 8 of the Code,” Campbell stated.