Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Emotionally fragile people want special rights? Oh puh-leeze.

According to this NYT article, a growing number of emotionally disabled people are demanding that businesses allow them to bring in their "service animals" onto the premises. This could include any animal from a service goat in a restaurant, to a Rottweiler flying a passenger on a plane.
Seriously. I'm not kidding about the goat. Or the monkeys, miniature horses, cats and a support duck wearing a fetching little outfit. It's in the article.
Now, the Americans With Disabilities Act mandates that people who depend on
trained service dogs in order to function be allowed access to any business. Think seeing eye dogs, or assistance dogs for wheelchair-bound folks. Fair enough. However, the ADA was quite vague when writing this law and now some who state they're emotionally disabled without their pets by their side at all times be allowed to bring their untrained pet everywhere. One woman states she is "less hostile" with her dogs by her side, and won't hesitate to sue any business that won't allow her full access, citing the ADA ruling. Sounds to me like having her dogs gives her an excuse to be hostile....!
I don't usually use naughty words (well OK, that's a fib) but this is fucking ridiculous. Someone who is hostile without their dogs next to them, or who has anxiety attacks without an emotional-support goat sitting on their lap has far bigger problems and needs better meds or inpatient treatment.
In fact, if you are unable to fly without a goat on your lap, or can only dine out if your pack of dogs are lying at your feet, don't fly or eat out. Take Amtrack and order in. Get help, for heavens sake. Don't demand the world cater to your emotional fragility.
To put this sort of responsibility and stress on an animal is unfair to people who don't want to dine with a goat at the next table. And, it's terribly unfair to the animal. They're not furry crutches, they're animals.
Before Cooper got mature and very aloof, he spent about a year as a TDI therapy dog. He enjoyed it, but it was stressful for him. After a couple of hours working, he was tired out. It was work! I cannot imagine selfishly forcing him to satisfy my needs - or anyone else's - every single day.
After I left the Insane Control Freak Doctor Who Stole My Stuff
in 2004, I had some difficult months. This might sound silly to some, but having my dogs was incredibly important to me, then. Nothing as dramatic as needing them to buck up and deal, but I really depended on them, yes, for emotional support. However they were just being their own doggie selves. They adapted to a new living situation without drama and weeping and wailing and rending of flesh, which was a pretty good lesson. Their just being in-the-moment dogs, relying on me for care and support, was helpful.
That should be what we can learn from our pets.

PS, I'm not sure but registration to the NYT might be required to read that article. It's free and quick to register, I recommend it.

PPS, in response to a comment, I wanted to include this. It's not so much that people truly in need should not have a service dog, even for psychological reasons, or whatever. But - I missed this point when paraphrasing the article - there are people who order "service dog" vests online, then demand that they be allowed to bring their pet everywhere. Regardless of whether the animal has had special training, or is even a canine good citizen. Seems to me this is taking advantage of the existing laws, and muddies the waters for those who have legitimate service animals.
And finally, thank you, May for telling me about Guide Horses for the visually impaired. I had no idea!! That's pretty cool.


Blogger Carina said...

I have no clue why the last part of this keeps defaulting to tiny print. Sorry. Stupid Blogger.
Where's my emotional support dog? Quick! I'm stressed, I need a dog!

7:56 AM  
Anonymous fairydragonstar said...

haveing a physical disability does not always mean a wheel chair some people.....including myself have a disablity that allows us to move without a wheelchair but we are hindered and I do use my dog to assist me...I am training my dog to pick up things to help me up from a sitting I take her places with but if I neede her to shop I would like the oppertunity to have that happen....some dogs are trained to recognize a seizure coming on in some people...they look normal in every way yet their service dog can mena life or death for comment that making your dog work as a TDI therapy dog was stressful....yet some dog thrive doing that kind of work...they want to do it, actually they have to do it. I am all for not making a dog do something it example is a friends 10 year old obdience dog he retired her becasue it was no longer fun for the dog...however some dogs won't quit even if the person says enough.

9:16 AM  
Blogger May* said...

Carina, great blog as always! I can relate to how your dogs are helpful at your times of need. My dogs *force* me to be emotionally balances at all times; they depend on my strength and clarity to lead them. I would never impose my anxieties, depression, and other issues on them. If anything, they are here to remind me it's not ALL about ME and snap out of whatever is bothering me and resolve any conflicts I have. It's not fair to have all the stress, as you mentioned, put on them. Most dogs can't handle all that pressure, which is why there are so many who suffer from anxiety, aggression, and obssessive compulsive issues themselves.

Always looking forward to read your no-nonsense, straight- forward, honest thoughts.


9:38 AM  
Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

Yeah, what May* said :)

I often find myself sitting down and spending time with the kittens just to chill out, and it's been great for me. So much happiness in such a little being, it's impossible to come away without feeling a bit less burdened.

3:51 PM  
Blogger michele said...

Here by way of blogmad,
stop by for a visit.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

Hey May*. :~)
I'll double-ditto what you said!
Fairydragonstar, absolutely, I didn't mean to say only blind or wheeled people should have service dogs!
I don't even think people should be barred from having a service dog for emotional support, if there is truly a need. What I didn't include (and should have) in paraphrasing the NYT article was that there are people who are ordering "service dog" vests online, then insisting their dog be allowed everywhere, even if the dog has had no special training or proper socialization. That just opens the door to all sorts of abuse of the system, instead of making those rules for people who really need a trained dog (or other animal.)
Well, I'm going to edit my post, thanks for making that point.

8:59 PM  
Blogger threecollie said...

I think I learn something useful (or see great pictures) every time I stop by. You raise a lot of very thought provoking points.
I agree with your take on this topic. I have no problem with genuine service dogs, but this seems to invite and in fact beg for abuse of a system that is working fairly well.

6:22 AM  
Anonymous fairydragonstar said...

and I agree that your dog should have specialized training and socilization before you take them I said...I am training my dog to do certain things I have a hard time doing...however, maybe what is needed is a standardized licsence that you can apply for to allow that to happen...sort of like getting a title on a dog in get a CGC you need to accomplish certain things....maybe for assistance dogs it should be something the same unless the dog comes from a specific organization...I know some people get thier dogs trained and not through a program becasue the waiting lists for the programs are like 5 years.

11:34 AM  
Blogger JJ said...

Boy, you know, although I love them like crazy, sometimes it's nice to get away from my crazy pets. I think Wade has been training them to be nuts. :-) I'll have to stop by more often Carina :-)

4:38 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

Threecollie, thanks, you rock. :~)

Fairydragonstar, I agree on the training part, what sort of dog do you have? I know someone who does service dog training with Labs, she has them about a year. Wow, that's a long wait list though.

Jaimie, you started a blog! Good on you. Post some agility photos so I can see how it's done propely!

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

I've thought more about the story and honestly wonder if the people who claim to need their pets for "emotional support" are really just annoyed/jealous that people like Paris Hilton are permitted to take their dogs everywhere, even places where the rest of us wouldn't be allowed. When my partner and I go to Starbucks and I have a dog with us, I wait outside with the dog. I'm sure celebrities just walk on in with their dogs, and get away with it.

I just have a gut feeling that if you surveyed all the people who claim they need their dogs with them for psychological support, they would mostly be owners of dogs which fit in purses -- dogs which are fashion accessories. Those tend to be the people with enough free time to sit around deciding they need psychological support, or enough money to pay a psychiatrist to say it for them. I thought it was a bit suspicious that these situations are cropping up in upscale NYC restaurants, and "health spas", not at a McDonalds in Louisiana.

For the record, I am on anti-depressants, but I sometimes leave the house for a while, on purpose, to get away from the pets for a bit :)

8:58 PM  
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11:33 PM  

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