Iguana Man Optimistic He Won't Have to Give Up His 'Service Lizard'

Categories: Government, Media

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Joe Eskenazi
Cosmie Silfa and Skippy
Yesterday we reported that Cosmie Silfa was at risk of having to give up his doctor-prescribed "service iguana" Skippy. Today, however, Silfa is optimistic he won't have to surrender the arm-sized, green lizard his psychiatrist describes as "an essential component of our treatment plan."

Silfa -- who was profiled in a June SF Weekly cover story about the city's intriguing rules and regulations regarding service animals -- has been entitled to keep "Skippy" the iguana in his well-heated room at the Knox SRO for years thanks to a note from Dr. Cynthia Resendez.

Yet for reasons that are not totally clear, building management has recently decided it wants more than the aforementioned note, and asked for Silfa's doctor to fill out what appear to be reasonable accommodation request forms. Silfa reported, however, that his doctor felt uncomfortable filling out the forms, and believed providing the note was enough -- setting in motion a situation in which he could be forced to remove the iguana from the premises. The John Stewart Company, which manages this SRO, has not gotten back to us yet, and this move puzzled Chuck Hauptman, HUD's regional director of fair housing and equal opportunities.

It appears, however, that Silfa won't have to relocate his service animal. He told us that his therapist at SOMA Health has forwarded the forms to a different psychiatrist, who could fill them out as early as this week.

"I notified [building management] that a psychiatrist would be getting the forms in the next few days," Silfa said. "I think they're okay with it."




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