Disabled man in legal battle to keep therapy cats

For one Texas man, Rex and Milo are not just cats. They offer him emotional comfort and stability and serve as his therapy pets. Gary Coleman states he has no other family members, so his cats play a special role in his life.

The Star-Telegram reports that Coleman, 45, has spina bifida and lives in an assisted living facility. While he claims his current lease contract allows for cats and even recognizes his cats as therapy animals, management told him recently that a no pets policy had been put in place for anyone who shares units.

Coleman shares a unit as he cannot afford a private apartment on his disability income.

According to court documents, Coleman pleaded with the representatives of the Mirabella assisted living facility to make an exception and allow him to keep his cats. Instead, Mirabella ordered him to get rid of the cats or face eviction. Coleman received an eviction letter and has until Sept. 11 to get rid of the cats or vacate the premises.

Mirabella claims in court records that they asked for documentation proving the cats were certified therapy animals, and have not received any certification papers from Coleman.

Coleman hired a lawyer to fight for him and his feline companions.

Coleman’s lawyer, Randy Turner, says that the Fair Housing Act requires landlords to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled residents, and does not make certification a requirement for therapy animals.

Turner did provide Mirabella with a letter from Coleman’s psychologist documenting the need for his therapy cats.

Regardless of the outcome, Coleman says he cannot survive without his cats. He says they are right beside him day and night.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X