In 2011, a medical condition caused Lutz, Florida woman Sharon Fowler to lose her vision. Legally blind, she had to acquire a service dog, named Laura. Ms. Fowler and her husband, Craig, moved into the Paradise Lakes Condominiums complex in 2012 with Laura. However, after they had settled in, Sharongot a letter from the property’s management that was very upsetting, as WTSP 10 News reports.
She was told that because Laura, a black Labrador, was over the 25-pound weight limit, she needed to go. This, despite Ms. Fowler providing Paradise Lakes with the proper documentation that proved Laura was a service dog. Sharon told WTSP that Paradise Lakes also claimed, “[Laura] was out of control and needed to be removed off the property, or we would be fined $50 a day.”
She did not mislead the community. As the Tampa Bay Times notes, “Before Fowler moved into the community, she was required to fill out an application and pass a background check. She disclosed her need for Laura and the dog's weight. Her application was approved.”
Understandably, Sharon is angry. She told WTVT FOX 13 News, “I am legally blind. Laura is a trained, certified guide dog. You cannot bully us. We will not leave. This is our home. I won't be embarrassed. I won't be intimidated. We will go all the way with this, and we've done nothing wrong." Believing the law to be on her side, Ms. Fowler has filed a lawsuit against the condo association for mental anguish. Though the suit was initially thrown out, an appellate court overturned that ruling and the case will proceed.
The various media outlets down in Florida covering this story have reached out to Paradise Lakes for comment, but so far the property and its management has kept quiet on the manner.