Kids + Pets

Keeping an illegal pet? Throw it a party (yes, really)

By Virginia K. Smith  | January 21, 2015 - 11:59AM

This is a new one: a Harlem woman just won a court battle with her landlord, who tried to evict her for keeping a "secret" dog in her apartment, a violation of her lease. The reason for the victory? She had thrown her dog a birthday party in the building several months prior to the suit, which served as proof that everyone in the building—including her landlord—knew about the dog for ages (and without complaint).

"I won for the Dutchess. I fought for my baby!" Gertrude Davis told the New York Daily News, which first reported the story. "I feel like I won a million dollars."

While it may seem counterintuitive that the secret to flouting your building's pet ban is to just flout it harder, the judge in this case ruled that Davis had kept Dutchess in an "open and notorious" manner, and that her management company had known about the pooch for months before trying to give Davis and her dog the boot.

As evidence, Davis submitted photos of the July birthday party—attended by numerous neighbors and their dogs—at which guests ate a cake with a picture of the dog's face on it. She also submitted "photos of Dutchess in the common areas of the building on various dates in all different outfits, and with different bows for her hair," per the court documents.

Davis "treats Dutchess like her own child. Dutchess is often dressed up and always on a leash when walked," court papers reportedly say. In other words, the dog was neither a secret nor a scourge in the building. And while we wouldn't necessarily recommend the dog-party method as a foolproof way of winning your pet a place in the building, sometimes, you have to go big or go home.


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