New Jersey family fighting to keep service dog, home of 14 years

BERGENFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey family is fighting to keep both their therapy dog and their home despite a dispute with their landlord.

Michael Derosa suffers from multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. His 1-year-old German shepherd, Princess, is certified as a service dog to help detect his epileptic seizures.

Apparently their landlord doesn't allow big dogs unless the family takes out a large insurance policy which they say they can't afford.

Now Derosa and his wife are facing the difficult decision to stay or move from their home of 14 years after receiving ominous notifications from lawyers representing the management of the complex.

"If the dog has to go, we have to go, so be it. But the dog is not going to go without us," Derosa said.

Princess likes to bark and the couple believes residents have complained. But they have the proper paperwork to show that service dogs should be treated differently because they serve as a medical necessity.

The apartment is run by Tower Management and their website states that the complex is pet-friendly.

However, the company says in order for the Derosas to comply with their policy, they will need to increase the insurance on Princess.

"While we do maintain a strict policy regarding pet ownership, service animals are welcome so long as their owners provide the documentation and guarantees as laid out in our 'pet addendum' to residential lease agreements," the statement said.

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