Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Sunday, May9, 2004
year after a West Delray condo association notified 86-year-old widow
Bernadette Casale that she needed to get rid of her 21/2 pound Chihuahua, the
case is headed to arbitration and Casale is on the mend from heath problems
she thinks were prompted by the stress.
"I was in the hospital last July for seven days, I had a case of
diverticulitis and I had a mini-stroke last month," said Casale.
"One day I'm all right and the next I'm not."
Casale in June filed suit against the Bridgeview Association, the community
where she has lived for 21 years. She believes that fair-housing laws protect
her right to keep her 6-year-old companion, Cha Cha. Though Bridgeview doesn't
allow pets, Casale said Cha Cha is medically necessary. Legally blind and
suffering from lupus, arthritis and depression, Casale credits her canine
companion with saving her life.
Following her husband Bill's death in 1989, Casale said she fell into a deep
depression. Her 5-foot, 2-inch frame dropped to 90 pounds. After a while, just
getting out of bed became a chore.
"I didn't eat and I wasn't sleeping," she said.
Casale's daughter, who lives in California, suggested that a dog might lift
her mother's spirits. Casale took the advice and has thrived ever since.
"I gained 30 pounds since I had my little one," she said.
"Since I have her, I have to cook because I have to feed her. She don't
like dog food. I cook chicken, hamburger, stew. I'm busy with her."
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks ordered that the
case be dismissed and sent to arbitration. No date has been scheduled.
Casale feels confident she will prevail. The Long Island, N.Y., native is
certain about one thing: She's not giving up her pet. "I'm a
positive-thinking person," she said.