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Woman with cancer can't keep dog at condo | News

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Woman with cancer can't keep dog at condo

RUSKIN, Fla. -- Like most dog owners, Pat Picavet thinks the world of her girl, Marley. "This is cliché, but she is like my best buddy," says Picavet during a game of fetch.

But to Picavet, the chocolate lab is much more than just a pet. The dog helps Picavet get through her toughest days. "She's very, very special to me," she says, then laughs when Marley burps in her face.

Laughs like that are mighty important now, because Picavet is battling stage IV breast cancer. The cancer has spread to her bones and doctors can't say how long she has to live. "I take it day by day," she says.

To make those days as best as they can be, Picavet's husband, Herb Grigg, purchased her a condo in Ruskin. It's a relaxing waterside retreat. "It's just wonderful. I just love it," says Picavet from her balcony overlooking Tampa Bay.

But this place of peace has now turned into a war zone. Picavet is in a dogfight with the Bahia Del Sol Condominium Association. The complex has barred Marley because she's too big.

"It's not right, she should be here," says Picavet, gazing at Marley's now empty dog bed and idle chew toys.

When Picavet's husband bought the condo last May, he signed a lot of papers, including one acknowledging the pet weight limit rules. Now, Marley's extra 60 pounds weighs on the family like an anchor.

"You know there's no reason for people to be treating her like this," says a tearful Hollee Grigg, standing beside her mother.

On late Tuesday, the condominium board and their property management company, Unique Properties, issued this statement:

"This issue is not simply a request for a service animal and because of other issues that are involved, the board of directors felt they needed legal guidance. They have turned the issue over to their attorney for review and advice on how the situation should best be handled. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for either management or the board of directors to make any comment at this time."

However, some renters at the complex had plenty to say. "I think it's a shame that anyone would want to take that from her," said Rebecca Boucher as she walked her two small dogs.

Picavet's doctors have written letters saying how Marley helps her fight depression. Marley is also listed as an emotional support animal with the National Service Animal Registry and her attorney says federal and state housing laws could apply to her situation.

Picavet hopes she doesn't have to go to court, but just like the "Welcome to Paradise" sign outside her doorway, she believes Marley will once again be welcome here. "I do believe it's going to happen, because it's meant to be."

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