October 14, 2014

"I decided to go undercover as a person with an anxiety disorder (not a stretch) and run around town with five un-cuddly, non-nurturing animals for which I obtained E.S.A. credentials..."

Patricia Marx uncovers the rampant scam that is goes by the name emotional-support animal.
The first animal I test-drove was a fifteen-pound, thirteen-inch turtle. I tethered it to a rabbit leash, to which I had stapled a cloth E.S.A. badge (purchased on Amazon), and set off for the Frick Collection....

Here’s what happened at the Chanel boutique: “Hello. I’m looking for a pocketbook that will match my snake,” I said to a salesman. “Maybe something in reptile.”... he salesman handed me a smart, yellow python bag marked $9,000. “I think this would work the best. It’s one of our classics. I think yellow. Red makes the snake look too dull.”...

Henry was a Royal Palm [turkey]...

An alpaca... been granted permission to clomp through the premises of a national treasure that houses hundreds of priceless antiques...

I’m pleased to report that passing through security with a pig in your arms is easier than doing so without one....
Much more at the link.

48 comments:

tim maguire said...

I don't think I've ever come across an "emotional support animal" that wasn't part of a scam by some schmuck to bring their pet into inappropriate places.

Ann Althouse said...

There's a lot in the linked article about how people who want to take their dogs everywhere are just flat-out lying and scamming to do what they want.

tim in vermont said...

re the alpaca. Myth Busters did a "Bull in a China Shop" myth, and the bull never broke any china. Just daintily stepped around the shelves.

BarrySanders20 said...

I've seen these pathetic women with the emotional support dog/rats. And it's always aging women with heavy make-up.

Nothing stapled to the leash stating that they are not getting the emotional support they need from a male human, but it's really not necessary, is it?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Any guesses as to the proportion of "emotional support animals" taken to inappropriate places by women vs by men? Have you ever observed a man using the "emotional support animal" excuse? I have seen guys with lil' teacup dogs in Midtown, sure, but every ESA scammer I have personally witnessed or been told about has been female.
Thoughts?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Marginally related: I am currently teaching a cat to walk on a leash. He is taking to it pretty well (better than I expected!) as long as I'm more or less following where he wants to go--when I try to direct him with a pull he shuts down pretty quickly. Using treats to direct his path works move of the time but I wish I started training when he was a kitten.

Michael K said...

I had a neighbor who had a cat he walked on a leash. It was some variety that seems to prefer leashes. Savannah cat or some sort.

John Lynch said...

As a clerk and restaurant manager I was the go-to guy for telling people "no" when they wanted to bring their animals.

There were two types: entitled people who didn't see anything wrong with taking their pets everywhere, and crazy people who were crazy.

The entitled ones were harder to deal with. Crazy people are used to being told no. Once they figured out I was serious they'd give up.

Not the entitled people.

Amy said...

What if she tried to enter a Halal restaurant or grocery with the pig? I bet that wouldn't have gone so well, even with her precious letter.
Somehow not surprised that her journalistic energies didn't extend that far.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I love the enterprising salesman who took the opportunity of the writer's emotional support snake to try to sell her a $9,000 snakeskin purse.

Emil Blatz said...

I was at Hartsfield, waiting for my elderly parents to arrive, just before Christmas last year. The parade of very healthy, capable and not-even-possibly-disabled people who emerged from the disembarkation point (before you could have claimed a dog that was shipped as cargo by the airline) with all kinds of dogs was just overwhelming. I've also been in court in South Florida on two occasions when testimony given by witnesses who had "comfort dogs" on the stand with them. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs and would prefer the company of my dog to that of ~98.7% of humans I have heretofore met. But this is being abused nine ways from Sunday.

Greg Hlatky said...

Provide handicapped parking? Suddenly everyone is handicapped. Expedited boarding for passengers in wheelchairs? See how many "recover" when they get to the gate. Long lines at Disney World? Rent a handicapped kid. Allow "emotional support" animals? Now no one can function without one. Point any of this out? You're a heartless bastard.

Bob Boyd said...

I heard that the White House staffer involved in the Secret Service prostitution scandal claimed the girl he took to his room was his emotional support hooker and it worked.

steve uhr said...

Similar to medical marijuana debate - the exception swallows the rule. Similar to gay marriage debate - you can be with some species but can you be with any species?

Shanna said...

Marginally related: I am currently teaching a cat to walk on a leash. He is taking to it pretty well (better than I expected!)

A neighbor of a friend had a cat that walked on a leash all around his apartment complex. I tried to take mine and he was fine if you just followed him, until he wanted to lay down and enjoy the sun for a bit.

My (old) cat got out the other day and went into the neighbors yard. He called me when I was out shopping because he was worried the cat was ill. I asked him what was wrong and he said the cat was just laying there and wouldn't move when he told it to. LOL. I told him he was just lazy. He only has dogs and didn't understand.

Shanna said...

I love the enterprising salesman who took the opportunity of the writer's emotional support snake to try to sell her a $9,000 snakeskin purse.

Yeah. You get the impression they are used to crazy rich people trying to buy things to match their pets...

Anonymous said...

I take it that THE LAW doesn't allow employees to ask more than the two questions specified in the article. What about the rest of us? If I see a service animal that I am skeptical of, may I, an ordinary mortal, legally ask my fellow patron more than those two questions?

Ralph Hyatt said...

Emotional Support Animal? Isn't that just another way of saying pet?

Eric said...

I don't think I've ever come across an "emotional support animal" that wasn't part of a scam by some schmuck to bring their pet into inappropriate places.

While I agree that's probably the case, how could you know for sure?

Just Mike said...

@ Greg Hlatky RE abuse of expedited boarding for wheelchair bound passengers. Southwest airlines has a direct flight between W. Palm Beach FLA and E. Islip Long Island NY that regulars refer to as "the Miracle Flight". Routinely 15-20 or so wheelchair bound passengers board and only 4-5 disembark. Cured! Works every time.

jacksonjay said...

Nation of Pussies!

Scamming the disabled parking.
Scamming the "support" pets.
Scamming the amusement park lines.

God Help Us if we ever have a real crisis.

Oh yeah, forgot, Crying about White People, too!

LYNNDH said...

What really gets me is those that abuse the Handicap signs to get closer to the door. If I see that happening, I try to say something. However, one time at the gym I noticed a woman get out of a car with the handicap sign. I just let it go and thought bad thoughts. Then I noticed - she had a prosthic leg.I called out and apologized to her for my thoughts. So, just be careful.

rhhardin said...

My petition to move handicapped parking as far from the stores as possible hasn't gotten far.

Give obese people some exercise, I say.

rhhardin said...

If you can take dogs everywhere, you get a lot of well socialized dogs.

Which we do not have these days.

CatherineM said...

Lynndh - Or you don't see me dropping my mom (she has a handicapped sticker because she needs a walker and my dad is reduced to shuffling) at the front door while I run and park the car while I am visiting.

CatherineM said...

Adam Carolla rants about this all the time. The people I work with take pics of it all of the time when they travel. One co-worker had a crying baby on his left and a small dog to his right in a pic.

It's not just older women.

I love dogs and I when I worked in a small office I used to encourage my boss to bring in his lab (we were both in better moods). However, plane with the animal shitting or barking at another dog on the flight? No way Jose!

MadisonMan said...

The picture of the alpaca in the pharmacy made me LOL. I guess I wasn't expecting it.

MayBee said...

Yes. Things like this that start out for good reason are soon discovered and used.

It's tempting to make your dog an emotional support dog because then he can fly in the cabin with you and its a lot cheaper.

We were walking in a nearby park and got stopped by a volunteer telling us dogs are not allowed in the park. She said we could tell anyone who stopped us that my husband is schizophrenic and the dog is a support dog, because they don't check for papers or anything.

We didn't do it, but still. Only the mentally ill and those willing to lie are allowed to have dogs in that beautiful park.

MayBee said...

Oh- and my husband once had to accommodate a woman with an emotional support ferret in a baby stroller.

furious_a said...

Me, I've always wanted to take my Therapy Monkey 🐵 with me to the Fresh Choice salad bar.

PRAY...FOR...MOJO

Bob Ellison said...

"An alpaca looks so much like a big stuffed animal that if you walked around F.A.O. Schwarz with one nobody would notice. "

That's very true. They have a stuffed-animal way about them. Human-height, huge eyes, calm demeanor (mostly). They look cuddly and not as nervous as they might actually be.

Scott said...

In the 70's I had a chimpanzee. (Some old time Madison residents may remember him from West Towne Mall). I took Darwin everywhere with me. In the summer he loved going out on the lakes in our boat, because we would stop at the Edgewater Hotel pier where he would have a beer and hold court for the afternoon. Reaction to him was clustered at the extremes. People who would rush to him with excitement and questions and people who would act as if this was something they saw everyday. We would take him on Campus every semester for a day in Anthropology class. When he died in the late 80's his body was donated to the University. I assume he is still there.

Shanna said...

However, one time at the gym I noticed a woman get out of a car with the handicap sign. I just let it go and thought bad thoughts. Then I noticed - she had a prosthic leg.

Yeah, I used to glare at all those people, but my cousin has difficulty getting around but is capable of walking so I've kind of had to stop being quite so suspicious. But people definately abuse it. In Arkansas, you can get a handicapped tag really easily. My cousin and I do get a bit perplexed that there are so many handicapped spots at a bridge/walking trail that is solely used for walking and biking. I could understand one, but if you are going to walk a few miles you don't need to park close! There isn't even a park or anything, just a trail system. Ugh.

an emotional support ferret

What?? How much support could a rodent possibly be?

clarice said...

In France people bring their dogs everywhere--even the finest restaurants. I don't see why dogs and cats shouldn't be allowed in without this ES scam.

Here, they don't even provide a means to take them on trains. Not even in a separate compartment for those who might be allergic.

Eric said...

Personally I wouldn't go to a restaurant that allowed anybody to bring their animals. Can't stand the smell.

MadisonMan said...

It's times like reading these stories that I wish I were a shopkeeper so I could keep these special snowflakes from entering my store.

David said...

My dog is an emotional support animal. But she is so good at her job that I can actually do most things without her.

Fernandinande said...

They can't keep out my emotional support bacteria!

CWJ said...

Shanna wrote -

"My cousin and I do get a bit perplexed that there are so many handicapped spots at a bridge/walking trail that is solely used for walking and biking."

I'm not sure you're still there, but my favorite is Braille at drive-up ATMs.

BTW, ferrets are most definitely NOT rodents! They eat them!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I will point out once again that the defining metaphor of our time is debasing the currency.

Respect for people with disabilities and consideration for the feelings of others are good things. Assholes who use those for their selfish ends harm everyone. A culture that both tolerates and celebrates assholes in the name of Progress...

Anonymous said...

About the handicapped parking--in my immediate family we have had a handicap hang tag twice. The first time was when our autistic son was in elementary school. Our family doctor said we met the criteria of something like walking normally for 60 feet. Our son not only could walk, he would often run away out of control. Keeping the distance he had to cover in a parking lot short was a good idea. At age 16 he was so hard to live with we found him a group home. We let the tag expire.

The second time is after my wife's stroke. She can walk but not fast and not far. She also lost about half her field of vision. Keeping her distance among cars short is a good idea, too.

No one has challenged us so maybe we walk oddly enough that people understand, even from a distance.

natatomic said...

These "E.S.A.s" also get them extra fastpasses at Disney. It's amazing the exponential increase in service animals I've seen in the last couple of years there.

natatomic said...

Oh, and one family that frequents the parks quite often brings their service miniature horse. No joke.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Hoodlum: Back in the '70s I heard of a friend of a friend who was smugly taking advantage of various funds and perks available at Cal and the Berkeley area, intended for the mentally handicapped. The FoF openly acknowledged that he was scamming the system.
Me, I was still young, and had been raised by honorable parents, so I could not quite form the argument to explain why I found the FoF's actions so distasteful.
Want to see something amusing? Check out the stats on SDI usage and costs over the last couple decades.

CatherineM said...

Clarice - I don't know about France. But in the Austrian restaurants a few years ago, you didn't know someone had a dog until you spotted the dog under the table. I have never seen one on a chair or booth/bench sharing human space. There is a difference between so quiet you wouldn't know German/Alsation under the table vs Corgi in the booth with you/

MayBee said...

Clarice- I agree. I like the way in France and England you can take your pets almost anywhere.

tim maguire said...

Eric said...
I don't think I've ever come across an "emotional support animal" that wasn't part of a scam by some schmuck to bring their pet into inappropriate places.

While I agree that's probably the case, how could you know for sure?


That's where the "I don't think" part comes in, and I'll admit my opinion is probably colored by the fact that I think the whole concept is a scam to let schmucks bring their pets into inappropriate places, but the images in my mind as I typed that comment were of people I actually knew around my old neighborhood.

Kirk Parker said...

"It's times like reading these stories... " that I realize I might not miss Western Civilization all that much.