From the "things I've been meaning to get around to" file comes an outcry in the Beehive State, over Utah's abrogation of the right of victims of trauma, stress, or the vapors to bring "emotional support animals" wherever they wish.
I sympathize with Edward Carey, and wish him the best. I would allow him to bring his emotional support dog to my office, if he explained the need. But that would be my choice. If he told me I had no choice I'd dare him to sue me. I certainly wouldn't force anyone else to do it.
The smell of raw meat or the chaos of Wal-Mart can launch Edward Carey back to a time when saving soldiers' lives in Iraq was his job. Now the former combat medic is home and Lexi, a border collie, is trying to save his.
A service dog-in-training, the 8-month old black and white puppy yanks the veteran back to reality with a tug on his pants when a panic attack begins. Often, Carey says, she knows one is coming before he does.
Plagued by anxiety, Carey hopes a new state law won't stop people like him from healing.
It willl stop him from bringing his dog into stores where the dog isn't wanted, because Utah is eliminating "emotional support" animals from its equivalent of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
[O]ne specialist says the new law now just restates what's in the ADA. The prior law had been too broad and become abused, critics say.
"I think we have gotten out of control with allowing emotional support animals," said Linda Robinson, executive director of Gateway to Canine Partnerships, which teaches people to train their service dogs. "As much as I love cats … I don't think a cat can be trained to go in public with you. I don't think a rabbit can be trained to be a service animal."
For an example of the extent to which some have abused the concept of service animals for emotional support, consider the case of Debby Rose, who sued a hospital because it wouldn't allow her to enter with her emotional support monkey. Or consider the litany of weird complaints documented at Overlawyered, of which Sarah Sevick's ADA complaint over the loss of her emotional support ferret is but one.
For that matter, who knew that the Transportation Safety Administration has a helpful webpage containing guidelines for screening of service monkeys?
From just last week comes the case of Sherry Kelly, who disrupted jury selection in her son's machete murder trial because the judge wouldn't allow her to keep her emotional support poodle in the courtroom. I'm quite sure that Ms. Kelly, whose son is accused of butchering his father with a machete, is going through some trying times. But I don't put much faith in the "doctor's note" that states Ms. Kelly cannot be there to support her son without a poodle.
Or, for a more sensible view, consider Tabitha Darling, who though blind, does not bring her seeing-eye horse where it isn't wanted and is herself concerned about service animal abuse and lawsuits. For ordinary purposes, she relies on a certified seeing-eye dog. But of course one can't fake blindness (to an ophthalmologist or a neurologist), and part of the training that seeing-eye dogs get is to prevent them from behaving, in public anyway, like the disruptive, dirty, loud goofballs that most dogs are at their best. To say nothing of monkeys, chimpanzees, and ferrets.
Unlike blindness, emotional distress can be faked quite easily. While we'd all probably like to bring our dogs into restaurants and groceries, spreading the right to sue over "no dogs allowed" beyond the generally accepted category of seeing-eye dogs doesn't seem like a good idea, because our mothers didn't raise us in a barn.