Ever since I first started seeing the woman with the service chihuahua, yes, I did write that right, a service chihuahua I’ve wondered….
See, despite what you may think, anyone can declare just about any animal a “service animal” and because of the way the regulations are stated in the Americans with Disabilities Act, just about no one can question it.
The critter doesn’t have to have any special training, it doesn’t have to have any training at all. Someone with letters behind their name just has to state that that particular critter is, in some way, helpful to the physical, mental, or emotional health of the person in question and you’re in. My massage therapist could write me a letter stating that carrying Flitter around on my shoulder was important to my well being because she provides a constant source of heat and vibration to treat the muscle spasms in my neck.
Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be that formal. You can purchase all sorts of “Service Animal” paraphernalia online and take your precious BooBoo anywhere you like.
Sure you and your animal can be asked to leave a business if your animal is rowdy or disruptive, but because there are so many people out there who are willing to make a big screeching stink about their god given rights to take their poorly socialized landshark anywhere they please because a podiatrist told them it was good for their toenails, very few businesses will take the risk of being labeled as “unfriendly” to service animals. And there have been enough cases of people creating a legal stink that pretty much no business is willing to take the risk of a discrimination lawsuit. Remember the woman some years back whose pot bellied pig created havoc in the first class compartment of an airplane?
I have a unique perspective.
I have dealt with honest to goodness service animals ranging from the traditional guide dogs for the blind, to a dog who could sense sudden changes in her brittle diabetic owner’s blood glucose levels and notify the owner before she even knew her levels were changing, to a dog that helped the social skills of the young son of a client who was profoundly autistic and a real nightmare to be around when his dog was absent. These were all trained, well mannered, well cared for, and a pleasure to deal with.
And then there was the woman with the service chihuahua who “helped me deal with reality” and “helped me remember to take my medications” (and did neither very well so far as I could tell, the woman was crazy as a bedbug). And the woman with the service pug who did nothing so far as I could tell besides widdle all over the landscape, bark at other dogs, and try to bite me and whoever else was interacting with it. And the couple that I fortunately haven’t seen in a LONG time whose service cattle dog won’t let the stewards on the cruise ships on which they travel into their cabin to clean because he’s so possessive/protective. They can’t take him out of the cabin either because he bites passersby, but he’s GOT to travel with them. I think that the service he provides is, as stated, that he keeps the male owner from being seasick. And the most recent abuse I’ve seen is the woman with the chihoodle who was important to his owner’s well being because she’d had a tendon injury in her foot and her doctor told her she had to carry something to counterbalance her weight (um…. a three pound dog can counterbalance a 180ish woman?). This one said flat out that she pretty much only got the dog designated as a service animal because she and her family were taking a cross country trip and while the other pets were staying at home she couldn’t bear to be separated from this one and she didn’t want to have to *gasp* pay to take the dog on an airplane.
Every single veterinarian I know has stories like this.
And every single person that I have known that has has a legitimate service animal is NUTS because these self entitled assholes are going around with their untrained, poorly mannered, poorly socialized idiots just because they can.
There’s a hole in the Americans with Disabilities Act. You don’t have to prove any real need to be able to have your pet declared a service animal. And, as I’ve said, your animal doesn’t have to be trained in any special way or in any way at all. The designation of “service animal” is so broad that abuse is rampant. There’s got to be something that we can do about that.