The fur sure is flying at a Long Island condo complex where a disabled woman faces nearly $11,000 in fines for keeping two cats instead of only one — even though the manager there has personally cared for these particular cats.
Elizabeth Colaianni said she brought the tuxedo-pattern kitties with her in back 2008 after purchasing her one-bedroom unit at Leisure Village in Ridge.
Condo manager Virginia Young saw feline brothers Rocky and Mickey in their travel crates on moving day, and since then has both fed and cleaned up after them while their owner was in the hospital, Colaianni said.
However, the condo board went ballistic when Colaianni, 58, who uses two canes or a walker to get around, won authority from the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission to install a ramp which leads up to her front door, according to discrimination complaints she has filed with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Colaianni alleges now that since the ramp was installed back in 2012, the board has illegally retaliated against her by imposing $250-a-month fines, plus legal fees, for violating the development’s one-pet-only rule.
The latest warning letter from the Leisure Village Association put the total amount she owed at $10,675 as of mid-January.
Colaianni said she paid the first $250 fine, and several subsequent monthly fines of $100 each — even though the condo association only charges $10 per head for human roommates.
But when the penalty suddenly got jacked up to $250 a month, she said she was no longer able to pay it on her $78,000 salary as an IT customer-service worker.
“I can’t even imagine that they’re asking me to take one of my children and get rid of one of my children. I can’t even wrap my head around it,” Colaianni said through tears.
Colainanni’s lawyer, Karen Copeland, said Colaianni had a doctor’s note saying the 9-year-old cats both serve as “emotional support animals” and called the demand that she keep only one “unthinkable and heartless.”
HUD said that it was still investigating Colaianni’s complaints.
Leisure Village board president Carol Leonard, Young and the condo association’s lawyers did not return any requests for comment.
Photo credit: Victor Alcorn