A disabled man is suing his assisted living center after he was told he would need to get rid of his two “therapy cats” or face eviction. Gary Coleman, a man suffering from spina bifida, has been told he can stay in his home until legal proceedings have been completed.
Coleman has lived with his two “therapy cats”, Milo and Rex, for more than a decade. Coleman’s psychologist says that the cats are important for Coleman’s well-being as he fights many different health issues. Coleman told WFAA that the issue began about a month ago when he received a note on his door stating that the cats needed to go. Mirabella Assisted Living is the community in question that Coleman has filed his suit against.
Mirabella Assisted Living recently changed their policy regarding pets in shared rooms which would require Coleman to seek a private room or get rid of the animals. Coleman’s attorney pointed out to WFAA that in his original lease from 2012 it clearly spells out an accommodation for “two therapy cats.” Court documents indicate that Coleman’s facility changed their pet policy for shared rooms. Coleman feels the cats are vital to his well-being noting.
“These guys have done something to me I’ve never been able to get, and that is the love and support of a family. I like it here, I feel safe here, but I’m not getting rid of my cats. I don’t have a mom or dad […] any of that. These cats are my family.”
The operator of the facility, Segora Senior Living, released a statement in response to media inquiries.
“We have reviewed all of the files and documentation and we do not have any documentation on the resident’s two cats being certified as therapy animals. We have requested from the resident, their legal counsel, and Power of Attorney to provide us with the certified animal documentation, which has not been provided as of today.”
Therefore, though the original lease signed in 2012 spells out that Coleman would be entering the home with two “therapy cats,” the fact that the cats are not registered therapy animals may come into play in the court.
The assisted living company also says they have tried working with Coleman on an alternative resolution such as moving Coleman to a private room where the cats may remain. However, Coleman says he can not afford a private room as he relies solely on Medicaid.
What do you think should happen? Should Coleman be able to keep his “therapy cats” since they play a role in his mental well-being and were spelled out in the original lease, or is the assisted living community making the right choice by banning animals in shared rooms?