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His emotional support squirrel could get him evicted, but he won't live without her

Brutis, a squirrel, perches on the shoulder of Ryan Boylan. The Clearwater Beach man is fighting with his condo board. He says the squirrel is an emotional support animal. The board says exotic pets are not allowed.
Published Nov. 12, 2017

Ryan Boylan and Brutis are inseparable pals.

Boylan tells Clearwater's WFLA News Channel 8 , "I can't imagine not being around her."

As for Brutis, she always has a shoulder to lean on.

Problem is, Brutis is a squirrel, and property managers at Boylan's Clearwater Beach condo, who discovered his furry friend in April, say Brutis has got to go or Boylan will be evicted.

The condo board found out about Brutis after she was chased up a tree by a dog.

Boylan, 40, said he rescued the rodent last September after Hurricane Matthew. Man and critter bonded, Boylan said, because he has post-traumatic stress after a 2004 car accident and Brutis provides emotional support. Many people have traditional domesticated animals like service dogs or even cats for emotional support.

But Boylan, who appealed to the state's Office of Human Rights, which sent a letter to the board on his behalf stating the Fair Housing Act, wants to keep Brutis.

The condo board at Island Walk Condominiums, however, said exotic animals are not allowed. The board sent notice in October that Boylan is in violation of his lease. In addition, the board's attorneys said he did not submit paperwork that Brutis is an emotional support animal until July and did not seek approval from the board to keep the pet.

Boylan's doctor, Scott Murphy, who has cared for Boylan since 2004, wrote a prescription report for an emotional support animal for his patient who suffers from several herniated discs in his lower back following a car accident.

"Due to his emotional disability, Ryan Boylan has certain limitations coping with what would otherwise be considered normal but significant day to day situations. To help alleviate these challenges and to enhance his day to day functionality, I have prescribed Ryan to obtain emotional support animal(s)," his letter to the board, posted by News Channel 8, reads. "The presence of the animal(s) is necessary for the emotional/mental health of Ryan Boylan because its presence will mitigate the symptoms he is currently experiencing."

Nuts to that, the board responded, citing liability.

"It's just like with any animal, you can have the nicest dog and they could bite somebody, it's no guarantee," former board member Sherry Arfa told News Channel 8. "If it was a gerbil or something that your grandkid had hiding under the bed, I'm sure that would be fine. But a squirrel is a wild animal."

The case is pending. Social media, naturally, has weighed in, with many posting to WFLA's Facebook page in Boylan's favor — "Idiots, that squirrel can't live in the wild, she would be killed immediately by other animals. She has bonded and they are small & clean animals. It would be like setting a teacup poodle into the wild." Some counter, saying an emotional support squirrel is simply nuts.

"He knew the rules when he moved in and he's using the typical comfort pet crap as an excuse to break the rules."

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