Emotional support animals

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
Grieving is not a professionally diagnosed mental health disorder
Actually, complicated grief is a recognized mental health disorder in the DSM under Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder. And tbh, I thought your reply to @arfie was unnecessarily harsh. The joke was rather apparent, no one in their right mind thinks a donkey qualifies as an ESH. (But who am I to judge, they're animals like anything else! I'm sure you probably could get them certified.)

Regarding the topic at hand, though, I'm definitely dissimilar to most. I struggle with animals and typically don't bond meaningfully to them at all (let alone actual human beings). I have a good connection to my cat who is emotionally similar to me, but I don't gain much comfort from her. Probably a me-thing, possibly an abuse thing (my abuse involved animals at various points), or maybe just an attachment issue in general.

Dogs are one of my biggest triggers so I always struggle when people bring their ESH/guide dogs around. Someone at my synagogue has one and it's enough to kick me out of the room. But what ya gonna do. Some people need 'em.
 
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siniang

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you @joeylittle for the warranted clarifications and extensions on the topic.

First things first:

But some people are impacted to an extent that legitimately warrants medical support.

I just wanted to emphasize that I by absolutely no means meant to minimize the very real and potentially disabling impact of grief nor that sometimes bereaved people may legit require medical support. I really merely was coming from it from the legal angle -- and (as I tried to clear up in my post, and think failed) stand correctly in my first assessment.

Prolonged grief disorder is a diagnosis in the IDC 11 and the DSM 5. It is essentially defined as grief persisting beyond six months, and in a way that it has a significant impact on daily functioning.

I'm curious (I'm so sorry, I don't currently have the bandwidth to go dive into the DSM), but how is prolonged grief disorder different from depression? Genuinely asking so I can learn.

In the period of immediate to six months, a person may be diagnosed with adjustment disorder

Coming back to the ESA topic... the FHA bases their requiements for an animal to qualify as an assistance animal (EAS+SAs) on the ADA definition of the person having a disability. Now, ADA allows for remission, for additional (already working) treatment (such as medication, therapy, ...) etc. . I know we've talked about this at length, before.

I'm just trying to understand how that would play out in reality. Someone is diagnosed with a *temporary* disability, such as adjustment disorder (or e.g. a severe prolonged other medical issue, e.g. cancer). At that point it would/might meet ADA requirements to be considered a disability. Which would make them eligible for their pet to be considered an ESA pending treatment team approval/agreement that said pet is essential to the treatment of their *temporary* disability. With that, they qualify for the legal protection and reasonable accomodations.

What happens when they no longer would meet the ADA disability requirement, because they're considered healed (or the adjustment disorder symptoms resolved and didn't convert into Prolonged Grief/Depression/a different disorder)? Wouldn't the animal at that point loose the ESA protection?

I wasn't careful in my wording when I used "may not qualify for reasonable accomodation" because as you correctly stated, if a person meets the FHA requirements, allowing the animal is the default reasonable accomodation a landlord must request (with some exceptions, actually - I just looked that up earlier this spring, e.g. if the dwelling is owner-occupied). I guess what I was trying to get at was what the situation would be for cases where it's most likely going to be temporary from the get go. (this honestly feels loop-holey and I guess hence why I'm having a bit of a hard time computing that that would actually fly, were it to go to court).

Not sure I'm getting across what I mean, so sorry.

The burden of challenge rests on the landlord. The landlord must engage in good faith with the tenant, interactively.

the individual with the assistance animal has the right to bring that animal into their housing.

From what I remember, the landlord may request written proof from the treatment team, though. This is different from PA for service dogs, as for housing it applies for both ESAs and SDs. Obviously the landlord cannot request actual diagnoses, but from what I remember they also don't have to take the person's word for it.

But reasonable accommodation is presumed until it's proven otherwise, as opposed to reasonable accommodation needing to BE proved.

Thank you for clarifying the wording. Important distinction and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. Not always good with words, on my end.

as of 2020, have done their best to codify what those bases are, for service animals and for assistance animals. I have a link somewhere, if anyone's interested.

Yes, please, here. I think my in-depth review of the matter predates 2020 and I only skimmed it recently this spring.

If the qualifying factors are all met, the landlord can't deny the tenant's right

violates the 'reasonable' concept (which generally means, it poses some sort of threat to other tenants, threatens the livelihood of the landlord, or adds undue financial burden)

I'm pretty sure we talked about this, before. And from what I remember and *think*, it's not quite as inclusive as most people would like and doesn't have to only be in case of a "threat"?

E.g. ... allowing two cats would be hard not to be considered reasonable. 10 cats? Probably wouldn't fly. How about mixed-species households? Might be hard to medically justify the *need* for a bunny and a turtle and two cats and a large-bree dog?

And who defines "undue financial burden"? I've seen landlords literally freak out about microscratches in their flooring some previous pet caused (and hence them now going no-pet)... you know, what technically would be considered 'normal wear and tear', but the landlord might consider a financial burden. Increased landscaping costs from dog pee destroying the grass in the yard? I feel this is quite vague and considering which side you ask, many landlords will consider significant financial burdens what us tenants would... not. Because they think in "investment" and we think in "home", hence coming from completely different angles.

Not challenging this, genuinely curious, I'm wondering whether the law considers animal welfare in addition to "threat to other tenants/livelihood of the landlord/undue financial burden". E.g. a landlord (and a judge) may consider one but not two cats a "reasonable accomodation", while cats should actually not be kept as solitary animals any longer.

Also genuinely curious... because a landlord may deny the reasonable accomodation if it would pose a 'threat to the landlord'. How about situations where the landlord is highly allergic?

but the doctor's opinion on whether their patient needs the emotional support.

sliiiiiiiiippery slope if that was the only requirement, ya know?

The joke was rather apparent, no one in their right mind thinks a donkey qualifies as an ESH.

Yeah.... nope. Again, there is a place and time for jokes like this. And this just wasn't it. Especially since the 'joke' was talking about public access, which isn't even a thing for ESAs ...

As someone who's recently experienced severe hardship as the result of legislation changes thanks to all those people abusing the system, it's simply not a laughing matter. At all. ESAs are consistently ridiculed and minimized from all sides, from the service dog community (who really should know better) and from the healthy population. We really don't need to keep reinforcing the already existing stigma, even just for fun and in an attempt to lighten the mood. Especially considering that "animals that no one in their right mind would think qualify as ESA" have consistently been used to ridicule the topic of ESAs as a whole - and in the process downplay the very ground for existence of legit ESAs. I hope you realize that the actual "ESA peacock" actually did start that very public debate with all its recent consequences ...?

probably could get them certified

NO such thing as ESA (nor SD) "certification".

---

All of that being said, I keep beating my personal soapbox that I genuinely think the entire ESA system in the US needs a severe overhaul if not abandonment (with integration of "ESAs" into existing SD laws), but that's a different topic, I think, and I do feel like a broken (very broken and frustrated) record.

All pets provide significant comfort to their owners and others. That's why animal-assisted-therapy is a thing. ESAs are more than pets (I hate the commonly encountered term "glorified pets"). They're treatment. Hence why they receive legal protection. Only, the actual legal requirements aren't widely known. I'm certain a lot of people whould shy away of faking their pet as an ESA if they publicly would have to accept them actually having a *disability*.

It's correctly been pointed out in a previous reply: There is a difference between want and need. It's legally quite clearly defined for good reasons. But there's also mindsets at play, in the US in particular. This has come up a few years ago in a different thread. Too many Americans confuse rights with privileges. Too many Americans think they're entitled to whatever, just because.

And while I really absolutely did not mean to diminish the very real severity that grief can be, that's why wordings such as "after the husband passed she made her dog an ESA" rubbed me wrong. Which was not meant to mean that I don't think she deserved the emotional support and the legal protection if needed.
 
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Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
As someone who's recently experienced severe hardship as the result of legislation changes thanks to all those people abusing the system, it's simply not a laughing matter. At all.
I get that, but @arfie wasn't abusing the system and she wasn't making light of your situation. She was actually just sharing that she has an unconventional animal companion and figured it'd be an interesting/humorous/neat addition to the thread. All of you guys have taken this single comment way out of bounds, in my opinion.
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
it'd be an interesting/humorous/neat addition to the thread

Someone started a thread on ESAs on a PTSD forum of all places and that was the FIRST thing someone thought to contribute? Like, literally the first comment? In the most clichee way?

All of you guys have taken this single comment way out of bounds

Yeah, because us with ESAs hear it all. the. damn. time. From literally every direction. It gets old after a while.

Edit:

I'd personally appreciate if people would stop with "you're overreacting" when someone points out that a comment that was intented as harmless or even attempted as a joke kinda didn't quite work as expected, even backfired, and people are even explaining why it wasn't the best idea. Instead of continuing with excuses why something really wasn't as bad as people seemingly are reacting, maybe actually sit with the conveyed criticism?
 
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Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
Someone started a thread on ESAs on a PTSD forum of all places and that was the FIRST thing someone thought to contribute? Like, literally the first comment? In the most clichee way?
In my opinion this is being overblown. She made a comment in an attempt to connect with people, that's how people use humor. It didn't go down well, obviously, which I think is silly because there's nothing offensive about what she said. Is it cliche? Sure. She's older, and she does have farm animals. So let her be cliche and let her have her little silly moment? And maybe connect to another person instead of everybody dogpiling onto an innocuous comment?
 

PlainJane

Moderator
sliiiiiiiiippery slope if that was the only requirement, ya know?

Of course, and it was a simplification on my part. I did not say it should be the only requirement, because absolutely not gonna work, but I get where you're coming from with the way I expressed it. I don't think it should be limited to a formal diagnosis either, though. There are many reasons why people don't have those, but desperately need help. Regulation and enforcement is necessary. There are plenty of variables worth exploring.

I just wanted to emphasize that I by absolutely no means meant to minimize the very real and potentially disabling impact of grief nor that sometimes bereaved people may legit require medical support. I really merely was coming from it from the legal angle -- and (as I tried to clear up in my post, and think failed) stand correctly in my first assessment.

I didn't think you were, I thought it was clear you were looking from a legal stand point.

I genuinely think the entire ESA system in the US needs a severe overhaul if not abandonment

It needs help. The countless people that take advantage of it is appalling considering how damaging it has been. They have tainted the reputation for those that have respected the system.

I do hear you. I think, similar to malingering - there's the 'knowing falsification' factor. If someone is trying to get away with having a pet, and doesn't have a legitimate medical need? 100% yes - they make it harder for the rest of us. No argument from me, there.

This accurately describes the issue. People abuse the system thus requiring rules and criteria to meet in order to get help. The standards we create that make it harder for abusers to take advantage of the system directly effects people who genuinely need it. A lot of us here have experienced this first hand with other aspects of receiving adequate care.

Really, I just want people that need help to have access to it. I just don't word well sometimes.


MOD NOTE:

Take what is helpful and leave the rest.

Stay on topic. This thread is for the discussion of Emotional Support Animals.
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
Arrrrrghhh.... my brain. Sorry sorry sorry.

I really merely was coming from it from the legal angle -- and (as I tried to clear up in my post, and think failed) stand correctly in my first assessment.

Stand corrected. I stand corrected. I was wrong, initially.
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
Maybe it's just me but...

And tbh, I thought your reply to @arfie was unnecessarily harsh.

In my opinion this is being overblown.

How's simply saying that an attempt at humor failed 'harsh'?
Who's overblowing what now?

arfie actually accepted Sadderday's comment and apologized.

Your AHA failed miserably!

politically correct apology, @Sadderday. admonition duly noted.

Legit confused. Feeling very misunderstood. Possibly triggered. Definitely dysregulated.

My apologies, will try to keep my distance from this thread for a while.
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
I don't think it should be limited to a formal diagnosis either, though. There are many reasons why people don't have those, but desperately need help.

I definitely get where you're coming from and I don't necessarily disagree. Access to medical care (especially mental health care) is a particular problem in the underprivileged but also LGBTQ+ communities, many of which desperately need help the most. But, maybe I'm just failing to see it, but someone who has a doctor attesting to their need for the ESA would also have access for *some* sort of formal diagnosis, no? Otherwise we're bording self-diangosis territory and that too is a very slipper slope.
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
How's simply saying that an attempt at humor failed 'harsh'?
Who's overblowing what now?

arfie actually accepted Sadderday's comment and apologized.
To explain it more clearly: as an outsider coming into this thread it looked like a lot of people piling on one person for a comment that wasn't offensive. "Failed miserably" came across as harsh to me. I just did not think arfie's comment was handled fairly. I don't think she should have had to apologize for something that wasn't actually offensive.

You got triggered by it, but that doesn't mean it's offensive. Because she wasn't making fun of you. She was trying to add intrigue to the conversation via humor (because she actually has these animals. That was the joke). In fact she even set it up in advance, kind of a "yoo-hoo, I'm about to Joke here" so that it was totally unambiguous that she was just joshin' around in a very light-hearted manner.

What I saw was a very benign comment setting off a whole host of PTSD shenanigans. And I didn't see anybody saying anything about it so I spoke up. I regret that my doing so has caused you to become dysregulated. That was not my intention. I originally replied to someone else, but it seems we've got to talking instead.
 

coraxxx

Sponsor
We don't have those in Europe. I mean you can have a letter but I think legally even in the States it's kinda up to the organisation how they handle it? I might be wrong. For what I understood it was like airlines could by exemple collectively agree on emotional support animals being accepted but it doesn't mean all places are supposed to accept or have the material means to enforce it.

I think there is also something that plays in the idea that ESAs are silly, it's because the letters are quite difficult to have. It is one thing to get a few times in an institution that is able to diagnose you with something, but I really don't really imagine any Medicaid place to take the time to get you an ESA letter, or at least it might be very dependent on the said place. Whereas if you have what we call here a city psychiatrist (as opposed to hospital ones), then it becomes more possible.

Being on benefits I really struggle just to see someone competent for my case. My local pdoc from the hospital I hadn't even his personal email address. During COVID I wanted a letter I could show the police in case I was stopped because I had to pace uncontrollably because of PTSD, that was absolutely impossible to get because important doc wouldn't be there to answer and barely let me ask for things in session.

So I guess a lot of people who have ESA tend (I said tend, not are) to be more on the privileged side of society, which is a side that also tends to be more demonstrative in enforcing what they feel like is a right (after all, there is a letter). This is obviously overall badly perceived and perhaps that's the kind of space where it should be reformed. Like making the letters more accessible etc and have some more general education about what an ESA is or isn't.

Now as someone who works in events and stuff I do find that ESAs have a potential to be a nightmare.

What do I do if I have someone with an emotional support cat and someone who is super allergic to cats? I'll let them fight to death in figuring out which one between a mild panic attack and uncontrollable sneezing is the worst? Do I have to personally assess the severity of the sneezing or the panic attack? Do I have to assess if it's a panic attack or just an anxiety flare? Should I get a diploma in psych and another one in allergology?

And if I cannot manage to have a place accessible to emotional service animals (as opposed to service ones) should I cancel my event?

For having run a small gallery for quite a while I can see how I'd decide to make that decision and none of them includes letters. If by example I had someone with a ESA dog and someone getting a panic attack from the dog or being very frightened, I would tend to measure with the level of discomfort of the person scared by dogs and eventually have to ask the ESA dog person to wait outside for a bit. One of them will have to wait outside. Probably if it's a service dog since they're quiet then it's possible to have the two in the same place if the place is large enough, but probably have to ask the frightened person to wait out if it's too small. Also depending on how people are. If they fight both go out. But because an ESA dog isn't trained, I cannot expect that animal to have the right behaviour and quietness needed to handle situations. They're still susceptible to do any silly dog thing and I'd tend to think I do not want to expose my public to these issues. Dog fights in exhibitions aren't so rare and it can become a problem. That's why a lot of place don't take dogs in the first place.

What do I do if said cat isn't quiet enough to ensure the event rolls out okay? Service animals are specifically trained to reduce or suppress these problems, so that would be fine, but honestly someone who arrives at my event with a stressed cat on a leash and caused problems, I will have to ask them to leave. If the cat is okay it's okay, fine, actually I don't care if that animal has or hasn't a paper, unless I have actual health and safety issues (like art installations with wires or fire or anything).

The problems are much more tricky than the existence or not of that paper and it is also what I find problematic about this issue, it's that it's actually quite impossible enforce.

And here, I'm not joking at all. I'm not making fun. This is about how you envision and enforce a regulation and I honestly struggle to see a legal way out of these problems.

As for the landlord thing, how is a landlord going to enforce that their tenant is undergoing mental health treatment? It's already barely possible to enforce it on people on probation. You cannot ask a normal citizen to go and check if their tenants are doing it. As joeylittle said, it is all in good faith.

I think that kind of letter can help to have an explanation as for why that animal is here and what to expect, but it will never be something you can show and expect everyone to go along with it because of the reasons above. You will be exposed to the negotiation with the person in charge of the peace and integrity of a place, be it a restaurant or an apartment or an airplane or an art exhibition.

And I guess it's the sense of entitlement of the given paper against these conditions that creates the irritation and misunderstanding about it. So all ponderated I really tend more to think that such a paper really shouldn't exist unless we can figure a more well rounded legislation that offers a solid guideline on how to handle it.
 
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Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
ESA's can be any animal. There are several hugely successful program here in Canada using horses. But really any pet, even donkeys can be support animals, just maybe not ones you can use in public.

As for public use ESA's the second biggest problem is abuse of the system and lack of enforcement for those who abuse the system. The biggest problem though is supply and demand. Since they are in many ways similar to guide dogs in training that means demand is outstripping supply since during covid a lot of legally blind people found their human support system isn't always there. So there is a deficit between demand and supply right now.

For me, my ESA is right beside me - drooling...she's a sweet little cat. There were a lot of days that would have been harder if she wasn't here.....
 
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