A Norridgewock landlord will abandon an attempt to evict a tenant he said violated her lease by allowing a disabled daughter to stay in her home for five days with a service dog despite a no-pets policy.

Dawn Zammuto faced eviction from her mobile home because her landlords, Oakley and Donna Brann, said she broke the no-pets clause in the lease when she let her disabled adult daughter visit with her service dog, Gracie Goose.

But John Martin, the Branns’ lawyer, said Thursday that he was filing papers to drop the eviction case. It had been scheduled for a hearing at 1 p.m. Friday.

Maine state law prohibits discrimination in accommodations against someone with a service animal.

“The Branns and I had a discussion, and after researching the issue, we decided it was best to dismiss the case,” said Martin, of Skowhegan.

Martin said the legal issue in the case came down to whether courts would consider someone “associated with” the tenant having the same right to use a service animal as the person renting the property.


“I wanted to do more research on the issue,” Martin said.

After Wednesday’s Morning Sentinel article was published online, readers weighed in overwhelmingly that the landlord should not evict Zammuto, pointing out the dog is not a pet and calling for caring and compassion on the landlord’s part.

“Service dogs are not pets,” said commenter Maggie Burns Widell in a comment typical of many of those with the story. “They fill a need. If the other tenants are complaining, let the landlord stand up to them. Come on get a little backbone and a lot of caring for another human being.”

The Branns started the eviction case after Zammuto allowed her adult daughter, Jessica Botto, who has a conversion disorder, to visit for five days with her service dog, an Australian shepherd-husky mix. With the disorder, stress results in physical symptoms. Besides the service dog, Botto uses a wheelchair.

Martin said other tenants at the three-unit mobile home park complained and also wanted to be allowed to have dogs.

Zammuto, 48, is in the process of adopting Botto’s two children, aged 4 and 2, and said she still worries that she will eventually lose her home.


“I think that this is just temporary,” she said Thursday of her accommodations. “(Brann) is going to look for any reason to get me out. I’m happy in a way, but I’m kind of concerned what he’s up to.”

Botto’s children are in the midst of evaluations for placement in preschool and Head Start programs. Zammuto said that time consumed by appointments for the children and the cost of taking them to see specialists has made it difficult for her to make the monthly rent.

“I had to use the money getting back and forth to Bangor,” she said. “Once this thing settles down and calms down, then I can get back to work.”

In the meantime, Zammuto said, her daughter is concerned that by visiting her children, she endangers her mother’s relationship with the landlord.

“There are unanswered questions,” Zammuto said. “Every time my daughter comes to visit, am I going to be faced with the situation over and over again?”

Martin said that his clients understand their responsibility as owners of the property, which has three mobile homes.

“Mr. Brann intends to follow the law and follow the lease,” Martin said. “I think they hope that by settling the matter it can get back to normal.”

Zammuto said she is still worried that she will someday receive another eviction notice.

“I’m hoping I’m wrong,” she said. “I’m hoping he will not harass me and not work with me. I hope he will understand that I’m a reasonable person and want to work with him.”

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