Blind Woman Sues Nudist Community Over Guide Dog - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Blind Woman Sues Nudist Community Over Guide Dog

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A blind woman living in a nudist community in Lutz vowed Wednesday to continue her fight to keep her guide dog and keep living in her condominium.

Sharon Fowler has had her service dog since 2011, shortly after a medical condition caused her to lose her vision.

"It is the most difficult thing," she said. "It's not only adjusting to everything becoming dark and black, it's loss of freedom."

And Fowler said that loss of freedom led her to her dog, Laura. The dog changed her life.

"Laura is my best friend," Fowler said.

Fowler and her husband, Craig, moved to Paradise Lakes Condominiums in 2012. They say they had already been settled in when the community association told them Laura, a black Labrador, is too big and had to go, or they had to move out.

But the Fowlers said they thought this would be a free-thinking and accepting community and have been stunned by how management has handled the guide dog situation.

Still, they say they're not going anywhere.

"I am legally blind. Laura is a trained, certified guide dog," Sharon said. "You cannot bully us. We will not leave. This is our home. I won't be embarrassed. I won't be intimidated. We will go all the way with this, and we've done nothing wrong."

"I have to sit back and behave myself and watch my wife go through some of the most embarrassing and traumatic times that she's ever had to go through," Craig said.

The Fowlers filed a lawsuit against the condo association for mental anguish and asked a judge to force the association to allow them to stay, at least for now.

The suit was initially thrown out, but an appellate court has since overturned that ruling.

"I won't be embarrassed. I won't be intimidated. We will go all the way with this," Sharon said.

FOX 13 left messages for the condo association manager and president of the board of directors, but our calls were not returned.

The condo complex is in Pasco County, which features many nudist parks and home communities. Although Fowler's surroundings are clothing optional, her dog is not optional for her. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Fowler has the autoimmune disease called Leukcytoclastic vasculitis, which will eventually cause her hearing to go too. She's had 13 surgeries and takes 15 medications a day. She hopes that one day she can just shed her clothes without a worry like the rest of the people in her community, with her dog by her side, of course.

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