Vayne Myers fought to keep his emotional support pet, a duck called Primadonna. Picture: Facebook
Vayne Myers fought to keep his emotional support pet, a duck called Primadonna. Picture: Facebook

Tenant’s bizarre spat with landlord over pet

A man was facing homelessness after his landlord threatened to evict him over his pet duck, Primadonna, who he claimed was an emotional support animal.

Vayne Myers, 26, was forced to take legal action to keep his home and his beloved pet Peking duck safe.

Mr Myers works as a barista in Tampa, Florida while he pursues a singing career.

He purchased Primadonna during an extremely difficult time in his life, according to a recent interview with The New York Times.

In it, Myers explained he had suffered from anxiety since he was a child and was searching for something to help restore his mental health.

Vayne Myers requires the assistance of an anxiety duck he calls Primadonna. Picture: Instagram/VayneMyers
Vayne Myers requires the assistance of an anxiety duck he calls Primadonna. Picture: Instagram/VayneMyers

A colleague at his Starbucks job suggested getting an emotional support animal - a companion medically approved to live with its owner for the purposes of improving their mental health and wellbeing.

While emotional support animals are typically dogs, the trend's recent spike in popularity has meant more people are finding comfort with all types of creatures - from horses and snakes, to crocodiles and pigs.

Mr Myers bought the baby duckling from a farm back in April, christening him "Primadonna".

Mr Myers purchased Primadonna to help with his anxiety. Picture: Facebook
Mr Myers purchased Primadonna to help with his anxiety. Picture: Facebook

Mr Myers - whose legal name is Jesse Calfas - quickly became attached to his pet, carrying him around, giving him warm baths and crickets as part of his diet.

"I even gave him a damn soft bed, and he still quacks like he be living on breadcrumbs," he joked to friends, referring to the duck's cheeky personality.

"Well his name is Primadonna, so I should have known what was to come."

Mr Myers told The New York Times the duck had profoundly improved his anxiety levels.

Whenever he feels like he doesn't matter in the world, he will waddle over to him and remind him "something does love you".

"I take him in the shower, in the bath and outside. He follows me wherever I go," Mr Myers said.

Primadonna even wears nappies inside the house to avoid making any mess.

Primadonna even wears nappies inside the house to avoid messes. Picture: Facebook
Primadonna even wears nappies inside the house to avoid messes. Picture: Facebook

But the barista's happiness with Primadonna didn't last long after his landlord caught wind of his new flatmate during a maintenance visit.

"My landlord tried to evict me for having an emotional support duck," he wrote on his Facebook page.

Despite staying in his own private yard, remaining completely undetected by neighbours for months, the landlord told Mr Myers ducks were not allowed on the property.

The property's body corporate allegedly charged a fee for any tenants who kept cats but other animals were strictly prohibited.

Mr Myers' landlord threatened to evict him if he didn't get rid of Primadonna. Picture: Facebook
Mr Myers' landlord threatened to evict him if he didn't get rid of Primadonna. Picture: Facebook

When Mr Myers tried to explain Primadonna wasn't just any pet - but one medically approved to assist in his mental health recovery - the landlord demanded proof.

He was provided with a letter from a therapist as well as video testimony but refused to budge, telling his tenant to start packing his bags.

Mr Myers, determined not to lose his best friend or his home, hired lawyer Matthew Dietz who helped him to negotiate a deal with the landlord in order to keep Primadonna.

Primadonna and Mr Myers soon became inseparable. Picture: Facebook
Primadonna and Mr Myers soon became inseparable. Picture: Facebook

Now able to live in peace, Mr Myers said he wanted to spread the word about the importance of recognising emotional support animals so others could feel comfortable living with theirs.

"I hope (my story) helps anyone that is going through a similar situation that I faced," he said.

"Don't give up and don't back down for what you believe in."

 

Continue the conversation @Rhi_lani or email rhian.deutrom@news.com.au