Service animals are amazing.
These are animals that perform a wide variety of services, from guiding the blind, to assisting the deaf, to providing comfort for patients with crippling mental disease. Some dogs have even been trained to assist people with seizures, or to aid individuals doing a wide variety of otherwise impossible activities.
A Service Animal is a dog that has been trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability.
Service animals are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from emotional support animals (E.S.A.). An ESA is an animal that can emotionally assist a person with a host of varying mental disabilities. Service dogs are trained to perform many tasks for their owners. Service animals undergo hundreds to thousands of hours of training. Emotional support animals require no training. This is where the water becomes murky. To be honest, I think an ESA is a fantastic idea. Having an animal to relieve anxiety, or that helps with depression is a brilliant idea. People with a wide array of disorders can benefit from an emotional support animal. Unfortunately, a multitude of people without disabilities have taken advantage of this to allow their pet to join them everywhere they want to go.
Not only that, but pretty much any animal can be an emotional support animal. You do have to have a letter explaining your psychological need for the animal. Sound hard? It is not. Go here <— pay your money, and boom, now your pet iguana can go with you everywhere.
People faking illness to take their pets with them everywhere has become frighteningly common.
This. Is. Terrible.
Also, quite hard to stop.
You can only legally ask two questions:
1. Is this dog required because of a disability?
2. What is it trained to do?
In the ER we become accustomed to the occasional rare patient faking something for an ulterior motive. But pretending to have an illness so you can take an animal anywhere is awful. Reasons vary greatly.
Some people actually admit they do this just so they can take their dog on an airplane for free (true). Though the case of an emotional support pig that pooped all over an airplane did not go so well (Click here, true story)
Others claim they should be able to bring their pet anywhere a service animal goes. This obviously infuriates people with actual service animals.
Just let me reiterate, people with actual disabilities should be able to do this, but the fakers out there are causing serious problems for people trying to legitimately utilize service animals.
Some people just buy their pets “service dog” gear and take their animal anywhere they want, just faking it without any paperwork at all. Anyone can obtain fake service animal gear. If you want to get the paraphernalia to adorn your pet, you can just buy it all off of Amazon. I did a ten second search and came up with this (<–click). The vast majority of people with actual service animals loathe the multitude of individuals who are faking disabilities to have and emotional service animal because when an ESA misbehaves, it creates a negative stigma (<–click) for actual service animals.
Somewhere in Michigan, a person has an emotional support alligator. Perhaps this is a legitimate comfort animal, I am unsure, but I know if someone came into the ER with an alligator I would have difficulty not asking them to leave their comfort reptile in the waiting room.
But where do you draw the line?
Can I take my support octopus with me on the train? It inks on me when I’m feeling stressed.
I need to take my support “jar of wasps” with me to the movies, their comforting hum eases my nervousness in crowds.
Don’t mind me while at the steakhouse, those are just my emotional support leeches on my face.
Can you make room, I need to back that flatbed truck up, it has my support beluga whale. It’s comforting blowhole spray helps me with my depression every time I see it spray others in the face (OK, now I kind of want a emotional support whale).
Interested in reading more? Check out a few articles
What do you think??