Douglasville family's dog could cost them their home - CBS46 News

Douglasville family's dog could cost them their home

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A Douglasville apartment complex may be violating federal law if it ends a woman's lease because of her dog.

The woman is an Atlanta Public Schools whistle blower, and claims her dog is an emotional support animal, a type of service dog that she needs to cope with the trauma and depression of the CRCT scandal.

What is the law when it comes to these animals? A CBS46 News investigation found the following.

Naomi Williams relies heavily on her dog Kelly to cope with the stress of her life.

Williams blew the whistle on CRCT scores and believes that led to her dismissal from Atlanta Public Schools.

Williams told us, "This whole thing has ruined my emotions, it has ruined my self-confidence and there are days that I really feel worthless … But to have her to come to me with a great big kiss, an unconditional I love you means a lot, it gets me through the day."

Naomi and son Victor lost their home, but moved with Kelly last summer into Brookview Apartments, paying a pet deposit. In December, management sent a letter claiming Kelly displayed aggressive tendencies. In May, Brookview said they wouldn't renew the Williams' lease.

"Moving is hard, no one want to move you know so it would be really hard to move especially if we didn't really deserve to be put out," said Victor Williams.

Here's the catch, in March, Naomi registered Kelly online with Service Dog Registration of America, as an emotional support animal. Any breed can apply and under law - emotional support animals, like a service dog, get special exemptions.

"That dog must be allowed within rental housing in addition with the air carrier access act, the dog must be allowed to fly on an airplane provided that the recipient carries proper identification," said Comprehensive Pet Therapy, INC trainer Mark Spivak.

The Williams say they're careful with Kelly, keeping her on a leash. They question complaints management has received.

"If I see another person with a dog that might be coming my way, just to make sure there is no type of problem at all, I usually take her and turn around and go the opposite direction," explained Victor Williams.

We asked Brookview's Attorney, J. Mike Williams, for complaints against Kelly and an on-camera interview. He declined both. Williams' statement, "Our client's policy is to grant all requests for reasonable accommodation that are reasonable and necessary to afford a disabled resident full use and enjoyment of the premises. However, our client has concerns about the possible threat to the health, safety, and welfare of their employees and the other residents. Our client does not have any other comment at this time."

After recent claims of another lunging incident management told the Williams they could stay if they kept Kelly muzzled or replaced her with a "dog that is not aggressive." Naomi worries giving up Kelly, could seal her fate.

"There's a very likely possibility that she would just be sent to a kill shelter," sighs Williams. "She is my family and family don't leave family behind."

The Williams don't want to take the month to month lease offered by Brookview because of the uncertainty. Negotiations continue but time is running out. The Williams lease expires July 31, 2014.

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