May 13, 2006

"When I travel I tell hotels up front that 'Alexander Dog Cohen' is coming and he is my emotional-needs dog."

This is not a humor piece:
The 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act states that anyone depending on an animal to function should be allowed full access to all private businesses that serve the public, like restaurants, stores and theaters. The law specifies that such animals must be trained specifically to assist their owner. True service animals are trained in tasks like finding a spouse when a person is in distress, or preventing people from rolling onto their stomachs during seizures....

Aphrodite Clamar-Cohen, who teaches psychology at John Jay College in Manhattan and sees a psychotherapist, said her dog, a pit bull mix, helps fend off dark moods that began after her husband died eight years ago. She learned about psychological support pets from the Delta Society, a nonprofit group that aims to bring people and animals together, and got her dog, Alexander, last year. "When I travel I tell hotels up front that 'Alexander Dog Cohen' is coming and he is my emotional-needs dog," she said. She acknowledged that the dog is not trained as a service animal.

"He is necessary for my mental health," she said. "I would find myself at loose ends without him."

It is widely accepted that animals can provide emotional benefits to people. "There is a lot of evidence that animals are major antidepressants," said Carole Fudin, a clinical social worker who specializes in the bond between animals and humans. "They give security and are wonderful emotional grease to help people with incapacitating fears like agoraphobia."...

These days people rely on a veritable Noah's Ark of support animals. Tami McLallen, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, said that although dogs are the most common service animals taken onto planes, the airline has had to accommodate monkeys, miniature horses, cats and even an emotional support duck. "Its owner dressed it up in clothes," she recalled.

There have also been at least two instances (on American and Delta) in which airlines have been presented with emotional support goats. Ms. McLallen said the airline flies service animals every day; all owners need to do is show up with a letter from a mental health professional and the animal can fly free in the cabin.
What about the emotional needs created by finding that you're seated in coach next to a small horse and a person who's emotionally impaired enough to need a small horse and anti-social enough to impose it on you and shameless enough to exploit a law intended to help the disabled? Can I have a monkey to help me with that?

65 comments:

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

I'm more concerned about what happens when the emotional needs dog goes to his reward. It seems like a pretty bad idea to pin your mental health on an animal that may only live to be 12-15 years old. What happens then?
Seems like if the dog is your prozac, you'll be in a heap of trouble.

Losing a dog is bad enough without being addicted to it like a drug.

Wickedpinto said...

To this day I remember the love that I had for my childhood pet "bandit." At the age of 9 Bandit basicaly got too expensive for my family to care for, and too risky to keep in the small land that we owned, so it was "necessary" for my family to give Bandit to the Humane Society. At the time (I know this for fact) the Humane Society only kept new animals for 3 days without specific interest. So my badit was basicaly killed by my parents because of the unfortunate circumstances.

A number of years later, I bought a puppy for my own, my brother was foolish, because while my poochie (not puppy anymore) obeyed me, he didn't obey anyone else. By brother seeing the ease with which I controled my pooch, let the pooch out into the open when I wasn't around. My pooch prolly went off looking for me, since he didn't have a clear home in property, but rather in the person of me.

I lost my second pooch due to ignorance.

I don't blame my parents or my brother for their decisions, the first was made out of best outcome, the second out of honest ignorance.

I tell that for this reason.

Hotels? fine, I will have a family member love my pooch.

restaurants? since I'm not disabled? good.

I DO! have a problem with rental properties denying pets. I pay for the exclusive use of property for a period of time, I should do with such as I please. As far as the "what if your dog dumps on the stairs" thing well, what if your 80 year old gramma pisses herself on the stairs? is she allowed?

I have always loved my poochies as though they were family, there should be no rules over personaly owned, or responsible property that applies to pets.

A loved and loving pet will change a persons life, is that not assisted living in some sort?

Maxine Weiss said...

I'm still waiting for an answer to the question about whether or not the airlines are a form of public, or private transportation.

If the airlines are public transportation, then they have to comply with all disability laws.

If they are private, the airline has no duty to provide for pets....though it might make good business sense to do it.

Ann, just buy two seats, and then you won't have to worry about who's sitting next to you!

Peace, Maxine

Jacques Cuze said...

show up with a letter from a mental health professional and the animal can fly free in the cabin.

Sounds like the real culprit is the junk science of therapy. When are we going to see lawyers take on the bogus mental health industry?

Probably never since they are married to each other in terms of increasing fees.

Sean said...

Well, wickedpinto, most landlords are offering a different deal: possession of THEIR property for certain limited purposes, not for you to keep dogs or goats on. If you want to keep dogs or goats, you have to bargain for that up front, not claim it is somehow subsumed in an apartment lease that on its face specifically prohibits animals.

vnjagvet said...

MW:

Airlines are public transportation.

Ann:

What ever happened to that venerable standard of the common law, the "reasonable [hu]man".

It sounds to me like Ms. Cohen is in that portion of the standard deviation spectrum that falls outside of "reasonable".

Verification word:

"icusosjw"

Ann Althouse said...

Whoa! When did Quxxo (Number 6) become a right-winger???

tiggeril said...

...Therapy goat?

tiggeril said...

...Emotional support duck?!

Jacques Cuze said...

The junk science of psychology/psychiatry is not limited to left-wingers. Look at Dr. Phil and Dr. Krauthammer.

Maxine Weiss said...

VN: You think an airplane is public property? My tax dollars go towards Pan Am?

I don't think so.

Airplane is private property. No need to conform to disability rules.

Peace, Maxine

Jacques Cuze said...

I am no expert on the ADA, but "The ADA prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation."
...
"places of public accommodation" (businesses and non-profit agencies that serve the public)

Jacques Cuze said...

Does everyone here have some champagne in the fridge tonight?

tiggeril said...

I have chocolate soy milk, is that close enough?

Jacques Cuze said...

Well, I think that champagne goes better with frog march and stir-fried emotional support duck with hoisin sauce and crepes.

Jonathan said...

True service animals are trained in tasks like finding a spouse when a person is in distress. . .

Duude! I need a girlfriend! Maybe one of those service dogs can help??

Seven Machos said...

I had to do a big mock trial deal on the ADA and I remember the courts had been interpreting the law in a very reasonable way. This can't possibly pass muster in a serious court, can it?

Then again, I predicted that bimbo Anna Nicol Smith would lose 9-0 and I got that 100 percent wrong, so my predictions are suspect.

Sanjay said...

Hey, is there going to be a monkey meta-theme the next few days, or what?

CB said...

maxine weiss,
With respect, you have no idea what you're talking about. Whether an airline is a common carrier and must abide by certain regulations has nothing to do with whether it is "private property." (Notice all of the privately owned businesses that have handicapped-accessible restrooms) And also whether something is public or private property has nothing to do with whether pets are allowed. The Pentagon is "public property" but I don't think I can take my dogs there.

Anyway, regarding the article--to adapt the classic line from A Fish Called Wanda, to call these people emotionally impaired is an insult to emotionally-impaired people. That said, I am in the process of training my two boxers to be therapy dogs, and one fringe benefit of that is that I will be able to bring them to the hospital if I am ever there.

Jacques Cuze said...

Yeah, monkey-brains until Monday, then frog legs for the rest of the week.

This week is going to be big on frogs.

Frogs and then slime.

Jacques Cuze said...

If you don't have champagne on hand, this is some blatant link spam to shiner bock the bestest beer in the whole world.

Goes great with hot dogs, frog legs, and emotional support duck.

Four out of five scientists agree that Shiner Boch is much cheaper and much more effective than junk science therapy. They recommend it for their friends that drink beer.

tiggeril said...

Alas, it's either soy milk or pickle juice. I'll have to bow out of our injured psyche buffe.

vnjagvet said...

MW:

Airlines are "public" carriers because they carry anyone who can pay their fare. Until the '70's all of their fares and terms of transportation for passengers and freight were minutely regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Board.

After the "deregulation" of the Carter Administration, the airlines competed for business like other businesses do.

But they still serve "all comers", like privately owned hotels, motels, restaurants, retail stores, theatres,etc.

The Americans with Disabilities Act covers places of "public accommodation", just like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Airlines, though privately owned are, in the eyes of the law, considered "public" carriers.

CB said...

wickedpinto,

I'm very sorry to hear about your losses; the connection between person and dog can be as strong as, or stronger, than connections between people.

Agreed on the apartment issue. The fact is that property owners are always looking for legal ways to reduce risk of loss. They can't prohibit old people, otherwise they would. But they can prohibit pets, so they do. Another disturbing trend is for insurance companies to refuse to issue homeowner's insurance to people who own certain breeds of dog, based solely on the breed reputation, or even name. I read (not sure if it's true) that a homeowner was dropped for owning an Irish Wolfhound, based on the mistaken belief that it was a wolf-dog hybrid.

Aspasia M. said...

I gotta get me an emotional needs duck.

----------
Seriously, though, most airplanes let you take small dogs and cats in cabin for a fee. They travel in a special bag that you put under the seat in front of you.

I've taken my cat, and most of the time people think it's a sports bag. (Unless we hit turbulence, and he starts to meow.)

Bruce Hayden said...

Well, this explains why when I was getting airline reservations for someone a couple days ago on SW airlines, and I went to the disabilities selection page, they offer accomodations for emotional needs pets. You do need a current letter from a health care provider stating that it is necessary, and you do have to notify them in advance, but that shouldn't be that hard to accomplish. Hopefullly though, they charge for extra seating unless this pet can reside under the seat - I don't think it realistic to expect people to share seats with miniture horses, goats, etc.

It was actually pretty interesting. For example, they require advance notice if a large group of people in wheelchairs are traveling together, in order to have adequate staffing.

They didn't have what I was looking for though - either early boarding and/or letting me escort them up/down the concourse. I think we need to do that at the airport.

Bruce Hayden said...

We have a bunch of rental properties, and in many of them prohibit pets with no problems. Haven't been faced with emotional needs pets yet, but have allowed seeing eye dogs, without any problem.

I am strongly anti-pet in rental units. I thought I had sold my house four years ago to someone, but it was a lease/purchase, with the lease allowing a single pet. She treated it like she owned it, and ended up with one small dog (not a problem) and four cats (big problem). She then defaulted, I evicted her, and resold the house. But before I could, I had to rip up the flooring in a couple of rooms, wash it down repeatedly, seal the floor, and then replace the flooring. I also had to remove the illegally installed pet door and clean and seal the porch. Oh, I forgot the downstairs bathroom - had to do the same there too. It ended up costing me almost $2,000, which, since she defaulted, I was highly unlikely to ever see.

I don't know about one cat, but more than one? Watch out. I am sure that she thought of her menagerie as required by her emotional needs. But I shouldn't have to pay for it.

amba said...

geoduck2,

Just go for an emotional-support geoduck. You can put it in your purse.

amba said...

Ann -- glancing at the headline, for a moment I thought you had a third son.

tiggeril said...

Um. Try to avoid geoduck clams, though.

Good heavens.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

"Airlines are "public" carriers because they carry anyone who can pay their fare."

Does it make any difference for the purposes of an ADA action whether an airline is a private or a public carrier, though? I thought ADA applied with equal force in either instance.

vnjagvet said...

It does make a difference. Generally speaking, a private carrier (like, for example, an individual who owns several airplanes and uses them for transporting members of a privately held company's staff or a family} may transport who they please without running afoul of the ADA.

Ricardo said...

This is the same story as handicapped license plates on vehicles. For the vast majority of people, they serve a legitimate function. But then there's always a few that take advantage of the system, getting their doctor to write a permission slip for the handicapped plates because the individual is too fat to walk far to get into the Safeway to buy their Twinkies and Root Beer. Same story here, with some people really "needing" their pooch for emotional support, and others just liking to force hotels or airlines to accommodate their every whim. It's hard to set up a system that accommodates legitimate claimants, yet weeds out those who purposefully take advantage of others. We all know that.

And the answer to Ann's hypothetical about what happens if you end up sitting next to someone's horse (or find someone's 150-year-old gooey geoduck climbing up your leg), is that you go to the airline and threaten to tell your story of horror unless they comp a few ticket vouchers for you. Airlines (and hotels) hate bad publicity, and will often be very accommodating just to keep you quiet.

No offense, geoduck2. I know geoducks are lovely creatures. "Siphon high, squirt it out, let it all hang out."

Jacques Cuze said...

Well offtopic, but topical. Make sure you see the opening of SNL tonight.

A few dumb oxen are gored.

Dr. Fager said...

I'm in a bad mood. The last paragraph of your post made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

Pogo said...

This seems like the expected outcome of an endlessly litigious and therapeutic society.

If this becomes our newly debased norm, I'll have to insist that my emotional needs are met only only be travelling with cobras, rattlers, and asps. Snakes on a plane!

Dawn said...

"Emotional-needs dog".

Puhleeze.

I love my dogs, but don't center my world around them. They're dogs, not humans. They have a limited capacity for any rational thought.

It appears that this woman is using her dog as a substitute for her late spouse.

Ann Althouse said...

Maybe those gay marriage opponents who fretted that people would demand to marry their dogs weren't far off.

Aspasia M. said...

(or find someone's 150-year-old gooey geoduck climbing up your leg)

Yikes! I would never be so gauche.

The good think about a emotional needs geoduck -- you could fit it in your purse. (Although, I suppose you'd need to keep it in saltwater. Hmmm...)

Michael Farris said...

I mentioned the 'emotional support duck' to a friend (who was raised on a farm).

His response wasn't what I expected. That can't be right, he said, maybe they meant 'emotional support goose'. It seems that ducks are really dumb and unresponsive while geese seem to be smarter and friendlier, especially when there are no other geese around.

verification word: wdzifka, which is actually very close to a Polish word meaning whore (dziwka, pronounced JEEF-kah)

HaloJonesFan said...

"emotional support duck". Hee.

Of course, there's also the Therapeutic Service Hog.
http://disweb.org/travel/travel_pigs_fly.html

Wickedpinto said...

Sean said...
Well, wickedpinto, most landlords are offering a different deal: possession of THEIR property for certain limited purposes, not for you to keep dogs or goats on. If you want to keep dogs or goats, you have to bargain for that up front, not claim it is somehow subsumed in an apartment lease that on its face specifically prohibits animals.


I was making a counter argument.

I have gone without a poochie for many years. But if this stupid "note for teacher" allows my food to be contaminated, I should be allowed to live, was my point.

Most of the time I argue FIRST point, such as annes question, whenever I argue Second point, I define it.

But cool that you corrected the second, that I never argued.

proudtobealiberal said...

FYI, access by persons with disabilities to airlines is governed by the Air Carrier Access Act.

Maxine Weiss said...

VNJ: The Disabilities act covers places of "Public Accomodation".

A commercial airline is not a public entity, the same way a subway is.

Aircraft is privately owned. The Government leases the airspace, the same way the Goverment leases the roadways to private vehicles....the vehicle itself, whether that be auto or airplane....is private.

A wholly private vehicle traveling on a public, Government owned byway---that's what an airplane is!

Furthermore, one does not have an absolute 'right' to fly. The subway is a necessity. Public buses are a necessity. Rail? Maybe. But, air travel is entirely optional. It isn't one of the necessities of life, quite the same way that subways and buses are.

Therefore there is no obligation. Although for PR reasons, I'm sure private commercial airlines comply. But they certainly don't have to.

P.S. Regulation doesn't automatically make private ventures into public ones. There are a lot of private, commerical industries subject to Government regulations. I know of know "right" to fly that exists. And so, you certainly don't have a "right" to various disability accommodations....

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

ProudToBeLiberal:

Regarding the Air Carrier Access Act:

It's a bunch of nothing. All the Access act is saying is that Airlines can't refuse someone based on disability.

Fine.

But that's a completely different issue than providing special accommodations, which is what we are talking about here.

1. Refusing to allow someone to board and,

2. Providing special accommodations

are two completely different things.

Peace, Maxine

Alan Kellogg said...

I have generalized anxiety disorder. Along with panic disorder and social phobia. Right now I'm on 300mg of Effexor, which does a right fine job of keeping me cool and collected. But, medication doesn't work for everybody. Sometimes you need somebody you can talk to. Even if that somebody can't talk back. What a cat or dog does real good is commiserate with you. They're also great at breaking the ice.

The worst anxiety attack I ever had left me literally shaking. Heart racing, blood pressure through the roof. Had anybody done the wrong thing it would've been their ass. In my worst panic attack, and there is a difference between the two, I literally could not move. In such a state the victim, given no way of escape, is capable of killing a tormentor without thinking about it.

Sounds harsh? You'd better fucking believe it, bub. Someone in a full fledged anxiety or panic attack is capable of causing a lot of damage, a lot of deaths. Your one and only priority is in getting the victim to calm down. And if it means you have to kill the first macho jerk who interferes, then you kill him. For he is putting a lot of lives in great danger.

I know anxiety disorder, and it is a very dangerous disease.

Maxine Weiss said...

Alan: I've got a book recommendation for you.

It's called "The Myth of Mental Illness" by Dr. Thomas Szasz (sp?)

I would also direct you to this website: www.cchr.org

Lastly, your use of F-Word expletive in your third paragraph.

Peace, Maxine

Jacques Cuze said...

Great, let's fight junk science with junkier religion.

Maxine, I would direct you that your thetans are showing.

Maxine Weiss said...

It's not religion. Dr. Thomas Szasz is not a scientologist. Besides, I don't see the Christian community speaking out against all the abuses and fraud.

Peace, Maxine

dew said...

RE “Maxine Weiss”
I am certainly no expert on public accommodations or law, but from what little I do know, your responses seem a bit confused. Simply because something is or is not owned by the government has little to do with whether it is a “public accommodation”. A privately owned restaurant, store, theater, doctor’s office, or even a private school is a “public accommodation”. I do not know whether the ADA covers airlines, but it certainly could, and could easily cover small charter airlines, or, for that matter, anyone who simply takes money for a plane ride.

The government does not “lease” roadways to private vehicles (or airspace to individual planes). It licenses vehicles and drivers, but that is something quite different.

P. Froward said...

Along with the Emotional Needs Dog, can this bimbo get a Usage Dog to tell her what "at loose ends" means? I'm guessing a FOAD Dog is out of the question.


"There is a lot of evidence that animals are major antidepressants"

Depends on the animal. I'm pretty sure the suicide rate among people with pet fish is astronomical. Or if it isn't, it should be. And I'm here to help.

Kirk Parker said...

Ann,

"Can I have a monkey to help me with that?"

Well, a chimp or a baboon might prove more useful. :-(

Matt Brown said...

My goat Mr. Beauregard follows me everywhere. I never feel the painful emotional affects of being caught littering, because as soon as I throw trash on the ground, he eats it. Do you think I could classify him as an emotional needs animal, even though he tends to kick at strangers?

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: As to the source of the law, the article refers to "a 2003 ruling by the Department of Transportation [that] clarified policies regarding disabled passengers on airplanes, stating for the first time that animals used to aid people with emotional ailments like depression or anxiety should be given the same access and privileges as animals helping people with physical disabilities like blindness or deafness." Then people have built on that ruling to make arguments about access to other places of public accommodations, apparently relying on the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Alan makes a good point. If we have a distaste for the use of psychotropic drugs, maybe we should be more sympathetic to people who have other coping strategies. Maybe if the pet is kept in a box that fits under the seat and is never taken out. My problem is with the annoyance and danger to other passagers, and also with people who are just using the loophole to do something they want for nonmedical reasons.

rhodeymark1 said...

"And if it means you have to kill the first macho jerk who interferes, then you kill him. For he is putting a lot of lives in great danger."

Ooooh, scary Alan - and Ann agrees! I would say the logical solution would be your termination, as you are putting innumerable macho jerks at risk. Or is this a value judgement?

Sean E said...

"...a homeowner was dropped for owning an Irish Wolfhound, based on the mistaken belief that it was a wolf-dog hybrid."

I own a Norwegian Elkhound. At least now I have an explanantion for the antlers.

"It seems that ducks are really dumb and unresponsive while geese seem to be smarter and friendlier,..."

Lots of geese around where I live. In my experience, they're large, loud, agressive and generate just an insane amount of poop. I think I'd just as soon share a plane with the goat.

dew said...

Most places, even hotels, are usually very generous in my experience when assist animals are concerned, and it would not be surprising if some pet owners try to abuse that. On the other hand, I have seen an acquaintance (who was obviously blind) be refused access to a somewhat upscale hotel restaurant in Massachusetts because he had his “pet” dog with him (he was eventally let in, but it did require some negotiation).

Unfortunately for business owners, the ADA apparently requires a business to allow in any assist animal, regardless of whether it has any license or documentation (even in states that license assist animals), which I guess makes it pretty much impossible for a business to differentiate between pets and real assist animals if the pet owner is dishonest or confused (for example, they believe that they can simply anoint their pet a “service animal” because it makes them feel good).

I’ll second the comment on ducks & geese – ducks are basically stupid, but although geese are smarter, they are nasty, bite, and generate a constant stream of green poo. Now goats are pretty smart and friendly, but in my experience the boy goats will often spray themselves with their very own built in cologne dispenser to impress any females, and either sex will idly chew on anything in sight (clothes, upholstery), so it would be interesting to see how one would fare on a plane.

Side note for Kirk/Ann: A baboon is a monkey. The people who train assist monkeys use capuchin monkeys though for the same reason “organ grinders” used them - because they are a good balance between size, temperament, and intelligence. Apes, such as chimps, are smarter, but can very easily break your arm or worse if they got mad (so maybe they would be better to fend off an antisocial person with a horse), and can take a lot of space. Baboons and other old world monkeys again might be smarter, but are usually more temperamental and don’t bond to humans as well. Also old-world monkeys like baboons can be carriers for some very nasty diseases that new world capuchins would not have. On the other hand, a capuchin monkey would probably try to hide down your shirt or on top of something tall if you got stuck next to an antisocial person with a horse, so no luck there. Back to the original post, I have been told by folks who occasionally have to deal with the issue that people with pet monkeys will sometimes try to pass them off as these “Helping Hands” assist monkeys to get them into places that don’t allow pets, which is pretty sad.

P. Froward said...

Alan Kellogg says,

Right now I'm on 300mg of Effexor, which does a right fine job of keeping me cool and collected.

...

You'd better fucking believe it, bub. ... a lot of deaths. ... if it means you have to kill the first macho jerk who interferes, then you kill him. ... Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly: loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women... women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence.


Yes, well you may have... you may have quite a point there, Jack.

brynb said...

Well, so many misconceptions and so much misinformation...

Goodness, where do I start? How 'bout I first start with the comment from Maxine Weiss on the "Myths of Mental Illness". Mental illness (preferred to be called by many a disorder, as illness is a bit short of a true definitions) is far from a myth. And just because Tom Cruise, the highly qualified ACTOR, can read and study psychiatry from his casting trailer between scenes, doesn't make him an expert on these highly complex issues. Sure, he can dismantle bombs and sneak past guards and woo the women, but that don't make him an expert 'cuz he read some books. No more than the rest of the Scientologists. (And you may say it's not scientology, but the web page you referred to speaks highly of, and refers often to scientologists and their studies)

There is one article highlighted there, BREAKING NEWS! New Study Confirms No Blood Tests for Any Mental Disorder in Psychiatry's Billing Bible of Mental "Disorders" — Diagnoses Pharmaceutically Driven, which leads one to believe (who didn't know any better, or has been living in a cave) that no blood tests to diagnose mental disorders is a new discovery. That's well known.

Mental disorders are not the only illnesses or disorder that are diagnosed without blood tests. Lupus, for example. There are blood tests that can help in the diagnosis of Lupus, but they're not specific to Lupus, and you can have Lupus without any positive blood tests. You can also have arthritis and a myriad of other diseases with the same positive blood test. It's all about a collection of symptoms that point to a diagnosis. As with many diseases and disorders. Without an initial screening (symptoms) to go on, a doctor would have no idea which direction to look.

We won't even go into the fact that Scientology is trying to crow about psychiatric abuses by crying about treatments without which millions of people would be dead if they weren't available. Personally, I'd much rather rely on the opinions of someone who has seriously studied some medicine before I'm going to follow someone who's most prolific accomplishments are sliding into the frame in his underwear or creating excitement in an audience by his air force acrobatics.

Now... onto the laws regarding emotional support animals and airlines.

As was stated earlier, it's the Air Carrier Access Act that governs the regulations on allowing emotional support and service animals on airplanes. It covers domestic AND foreign airlines. It has nothing to do with business, per se, it is because the government regulates all sorts of things that airlines do, and disability discrimination is one of them. Not all anti-discrimination laws fall under the ADA, it depends on the entity. Be it a private business, a government run entity, an entity that receives government funding (and that doesn't necessarily mean tax dollars, that could mean government loans) employment laws, etc. Which law covers the situation depends on the facts of the situation.

The ACAA requires accommodations for those with mental or physical disabilities the right to travel on an airplane. If they use a service animal or an emotional support animal, the airline is required to allow them access with that animal. Yes, even snakes have been known to be emotional support animals, however, any animal, service animal or emotional support animal, is not allowed if it can be construed as a danger, therefore, a venomous rattlesnake would not be allowable, but a python would. And any animal that showed aggression or bad behavior can be refused. In the case of the pig, it didn't show bad behavior until AFTER it was already in flight, so there was no way of knowing what could happen. Even a perfectly trained service dog could react badly to an airplane trip. There's no way to know. People who have no other anxiety issues can react badly on an airplane. Any living creature has the potential to react badly at 40,000 feet.

And small businesses that just provide, say, airplane rides don't necessarily have to allow access to emotional support animals, due to the general guidelines on emotional support animals (they aren't generally allowed public access, more about that later) But they must allow access to someone with a service animal, as would any business that provides services to the public.

No, the airline cannot refuse to allow a person to board an airplane just because they are a privately held company. They must have a legitimate reason, such as suspicion of terrorism (true suspcion, not just BS) someone who is exhibiting dangerous behavior, such as a person who's had too much to drink in the airport tavern and is being beligerent and threatening, or, if someone is flat out commenting on things such as bombs on the plane, etc. (and that's only because of recent events)

However, they are required to allow a person on the plane regardless if they are "unattractive" or "disturbing" to the other passengers, i.e. drooling, loud and obnoxious due to retardation, etc. Such is life, we have "those people" living among us, and we can't hide them away like the days of old (and we shouldn't)

Finally, onto the concept of the animals themselves and their functions.

First off, the difference between an emotional support animal, and a service animal. An emotional support animal is any animal that a person owns who has certification from a mental health professional or doctor stating that the animal provides emotional support. If the presence of the animal is comforting and necessary for the person's wellbeing. Without such animal, the person would otherwise have difficulty relating to others or self calming and having said animal is beneficial to the person. An emotional support animal has no specific training. A service animal is an animal that is specifically trained to perform tasks that mitigate a person's disability such as provide guidance while getting around in the case of a blind person, providing hearing assitance (doorbells, people approaching, etc) in the case of a deaf person. Physical tasks for someone who is physically disabled such as pulling a wheelchair, carrying things, picking up things, opening doors, etc. They provide assistance to individuals with mental/neurological disorders such as a person who has seizures, often a service dog will guide a person to the floor before they fall and risk head injury, lie next to them or even on them to prevent them from thrashing about and injuring themselves, and in the case of mental disorders, dogs can be trained to intervene during severe depressive episodes, bring medications at the proper time (to encourage med compliance) stop manic episodes, break a person out of a dissociative state, provide help during hallucinations (proving that it's a hallucination and not real) and turning on lights in a home before a person with PTSD enters because they've in the past when they came home and somone surprised them in the dark and raped them... lots of things a psych service dog can do that no one thinks about.

An emotional support animal only allows ADA protection in two instances. Housing and Air travel. Obviously, housing because not everyone who needs an emotional support animal can afford to buy their own house, or wants to, for that matter, and there must be laws allowing them to have them in spite of a rule for no pets. The actual concept isn't that you must allow the person to have a pet, the concept is that if a person is depressed, or has anxiety disorder or any of the many other mental disorders that emotional support animals can help to alleviate the symptoms of, they are considered disabled under the law. (assuming that they are severe enough to rise to the level of a disability, and that is between a person and their doctor... and the courts, if it comes down to that) According to the ADA and the Fair Housing Act, a landlord is required to make a reasonable accommodation for anyone with a disability to allow them to live as peacefully as someone without a disability, and if that requires the use of an emotional support animal, then they must make a reasonable accommodation in their policy. In this case, it's an exception to the no pets policy. Simple. Just as a person who is unable to climb stairs can require an apartment complex to put them on the ground floor, even though their policy may state that they only fill apartments as they open. If a person applies for an apartment and is expecting to move into the ground floor apartment that just came available and a person is disabled and requests a ground floor for reasons due to disability, if no move in date or promise has been given to the first person yet, the apartment must give the ground floor apartment to the person with the disability. If a person with a disability needs a handicap parking space nearer to their apartment than the one that is already provided, the aparments are required to block off another space and designate it as a handicap space. (assuming it's a reasonable request. If it's two spaces different, then no, but if all the handicap spaces are way at the other end of the building from where the person lives, then yes, they will have to do that)

A person using an emotional support animal has a right to access on an airplane because often when people take an airplane they are going further than a simple drive will take them. It would be discrimination to tell someone that because their animal is simply for emotional support, they will have to spend the extra several hundred dollars(or more) to drive, or the extra days it would take merely because they have an emotional support animal, and because it cannot be determined how long a person will be traveling, being without the emotional support animal for a long period of time could be detrimental. On top of the fact that the plane ride itself can cause the person to suffer worsening of symptoms that the animal can alleviate.

In the case of a service animal, it must be treated as any other appliance, as a service animal is technically not considered an animal at all, it is medical equipment. You can no more turn away a person with a service animal as you can tell someone they can't use a wheelchair because the wheels may leave marks on the carpet (yes, once upon a time, before disability discrimination law, this happened)

Hotels are not yet required to allow emotional support animals since it is possible to find a hotel that allows pets, and it's not a total inconvenience for the person to find these. But in the case of service animals, again, it would be akin to telling someone they can't use a wheelchair.

People using emotional support animals are not allowed any other public access. EVER. They are not allowed into stores restaurants or any other places of public accommodation. There are, however, disability rights groups who are trying to change this. I am opposed to it myself unless there are other requirements such as training. Simply because most emotional support animals are not usually specifically trained and are not screened for disposition, etc and shouldn't be allowed general public access as are service dogs.

A person who owns a therapy animal have absolutely no rights whatsoever. A therapy animal is something that is done voluntarily, in consideration for others who have medical or emotional issues, or are in need of distraction while institutionalised and the arrangements are between the person who owns the dog and the institution. You cannot walk into any hospital you please just because you have a therapy animal. It must be prearranged, just as a clown must prearrange visits with children, etc.

As to the reasons a person would use an emotional support animal, not everyone will understand that. People with certain disorders often cannot relate to other people. They find that animals are much easier to relate to, as they are non judgemental, they provide unconditional love and never violate your trust. For someone with self esteem issues, paranoia or social anxiety, they can be crucial. Touching an animal can have a calming effect, sometimes much more effective than any medication. Animals can also read moods very well (much better than other humans, just ask anyone who says "My spouse doesn't understand me") and often don't need any prompting to provide "support" They are often in a person's face as an anxiety attack is beginning, before the person even knows it's coming on, and are already starting to provide distractions, helping to stop it before it becomes full blown and too far gone for any medication to take effect.

There's so much more to know and understand, but it would take forever, more forever than this post has already taken.

I encourage anyone who's unsure, or skeptical of these animals uses and benefits to look into it further. You'd be surprised what Fido can do, and it's not just your typical "man's best friend" scenario. I personally know many people who use service dogs (as do I) and one in particular is in a wheelchair, uses a rottwieler as a service dog, and she has seizures. She had a seizure once, and fell out of her wheelchair. The dog called 911 (there are special phones for dogs to use for this, with one button, only calls 911, and no, they don't make prank calls) and opened the door when police arrived. The woman may or may not have been safe if it weren't for her dog. She suffered head injuries from falling, and who knows how long she would have layed there were it not for her dog.

Are there people who abuse the system? Sure there are. I have found, though, that the biggest abusers of the "emotional support dogs allowed on airplanes" rule are show dog people. Rich people who own $1000+ dogs who can afford the best treatment for them, but don't want Fido to have to fly second class, so they call them service dogs, or emotional support animals. The average joe usually doesn't do this. And, there are others who call a dog a service dog just so they can go out in public with them, but it usually doesn't last long, they're usually not well trained, and a business is allowed to refuse service to a person with an unruly or dangerous animal. (although, in the long run, it does hurt those who legitimately need one) but for the most part, the system works. Unfortunately, when congress made the laws, they mostly only made it so that if you are refused service, you can file a civil suit and collect damages, there is very little that compels a law enforcement entity to step in and stop the discrimination as it's happening. (that's why people think those with disabilities are lawsuit happy, but it's the only way to get justice and change people's ideas about the law and access rights) If you could call the police when McDonald's won't let you sit down and eat peacefully with your service dog, and the officer could tell the pimply faced kid behind the counter what the law is, and then you could go on with your meal, that'd be great, but more often than not, even the police officers have no clue and tell you that you must leave.

I guarantee you, if someone you loved were to find themeselves in a position to really need an emotional support animal, or service animal, your ideas would definitely change, especially when you see how badly they are treated in general when it comes to gaining access rights. Then there are always the misguided few who believe that mental illness/disorders or other illnesses are "all in your head" I remember when my doctor finally told me once, after years of trying to figure out why I was so ill all the time, after years of occasionally going to see him because I was tired of it, but not having any specific symptoms, and they were always different, he finally asked me if I would like to talk with his pastor at his church. Maybe that's really what I needed. I changed doctors, and 1 year later, it was found that I had Lupus and several other disorders, including a seizure disorder and blood disorders that often go along with Lupus. Maybe if I'd just gone to church, it would have gone away....

Although I have to say, since getting a diagnosis and proper treatment, I feel 100% better.

deleted said...

That article is mostly about people abusing the concept of ESA/Service Dog.
Why didn`t you mention people truly suffering, who genuinely need their service animals and do not want to spend their lives inside their house? Did you at least try to look at the matter from more than one perspective? Does the word "compassion" mean something to you?

FYI: I`m not impaired/disabled, I do not own any animal of my own.

deleted said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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Janet said...

I have an emotional support dog that goes EVERYWHERE with me. I took him to a nationally certified service dog trainer to ensure that he met all requirements for a service dog to be out in public. He passed a test that qualified him to wear a "service vest" in order to identify him in public. My dog is groomed & bathed on a regular basis. I take him to restaurants, grocery stores, doctors offices, even to the neighborhood pub. I ALWAYS receive compliments on his behavior, especially in the grocery store. There he is walking calmly beside me despite the distractions of a busy market such as noisy carts, enticing smells, noise and confusion. The biggest distraction is people wanting to pet him without asking me if it's okay, despite the fact that his vest tells people to ask BEFORE petting. What amazes me is that complete strangers often ask me "what is wrong with you?" My dog is a trained service dog and as such, is deserving of all the rights and respect that his training has earned him.

As for nasty, brutish, & short - it is no more a bad idea for me to pin my mental health on an animal than it is for a blind person to pin his sight on one. When he goes to his reward in 12-15 years, I will train another life companion. And by having a trained emotional support dog, I STAY OFF drugs.

wholelottasplainin' said...

I'm gonna start taking my "comfort gerbil" along when I fly.

He will be ...errr...sitting on my lap during some portion of the flight.

Emotional release, baby!!!