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Psychiatric Service Dogs & Emotional Support Animals

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Old 12-11-2008, 11:28 AM   #21
anin
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I acually just looked that up on the internet last week,because I was wondering about my puppy and traveling with him! I got this huge list of what they consider service animals,and,comfort or support animals.One on the list was if your Doctor fills out a form claiming that "Your dog,or cat or etc...provides emotional support for the owner,and that the owner is being treated for a mental health disability,and that it is necessary that you be accompanied by the animal.",now I quoted that right from the printout from the travel laws I looked up on the internet! I'm just wondering if they,meaning the Doctors have the forms on file,or if you have to print them off a website or something,cause I know my doctor will fill it out! I hope this info helped anyone!
Hi Justice,

I just want to say that if your animal is not TRULY an emotional support animal or service animal then you should NOT be having your doctor fill out the form just so you can travel with your puppy. This only serves to discredit the true service/emotional support animals out there.

I worked for an airline and saw people trying to pass off their pets as emotional support animals or service animals. It makes our job very, very, very difficult trying to distinguish between the two. I have seen cases where we denied a true service animal. This happens because people abuse the system.

We require the doctor's note as assurance that the animal is truly an emotional support animal. A doctor should not be signing such a letter unless there is a true need for the animal. That would be grounds for losing a license.

The law is in place for people who need their animals to live normal lives. As I said, abuse of this law discredits the importance of these animals and makes it more difficult for those who truly need them.

I obviously don't know your situation. However, from you post above it does sound like your doctor will sign the letter and you asked your doctor to sign the letter just so that you can travel with your puppy. I really hope that is not the case.

Anyone who is considering doing this, PLEASE reconsider. You should be happy that you are not disabled and don't require an animal to perform daily/routine functions. Please don't make it any more difficult for the people who do.

Thanks,

Anin
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Old 12-11-2008, 07:43 PM   #22
Chemar
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Hello Anin

where I can understand the point you are making about people abusing the system, yet I do think it somewhat presumptious that you dont know this member nor their health problems, yet are suggesting this was an attempt at abusing the system. If someone has disabling mental health problems and they need their dog with them while traveling why would that be less acceptable than say someone who is sight disabled

I was also surprised to see the comment
Quote:
I have seen cases where we denied a true service animal. This happens because people abuse the system.
why would you have denied a "true service animal" in the first place
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Old 12-12-2008, 01:58 AM   #23
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Hello Anin

where I can understand the point you are making about people abusing the system, yet I do think it somewhat presumptious that you dont know this member nor their health problems, yet are suggesting this was an attempt at abusing the system. If someone has disabling mental health problems and they need their dog with them while traveling why would that be less acceptable than say someone who is sight disabled

I was also surprised to see the comment


why would you have denied a "true service animal" in the first place
Hi Chemar,

You are correct, I do not not the original poster's situation but I thought I mentioned that. I apologize if I came across as implying that a mentally disabled person has any less of a right to a service animal than a physically disabled person (such as a blind person). I did not mean that at all. I have a mental disability myself as well as have a friend with an emotional support animal and a couple blind friends with seeing eye dogs. These animals are essential to their lives and I'm very glad we have the law in place to allow them to travel with these companions.

I did, however, get the sense that the poster was just trying to get her puppy to be able to travel with her not that she needs the puppy to function normally in her day to day life (services a service/emotional support animal provide and the reason we have the law). That may not have been his/her intention but I just wanted to make the community aware that using the service/emotional support animal law as a means to to be able to travel unrestricted with your pet is truly an abuse of the system.

While I have never denied a service animal, I have heard of and saw a case where it happened. Agents sometimes have a hard time distinguishing between a pet and a service/emotional support animal and it is their job to discern what really is a service animal because we cannot board pets unrestricted. While emotional support animals do require documentation, service animals don't necessarily. I don't want to state specific examples but I will say that I've read about cases where the passenger went to check in, was advised of the fee to bring their pet, then tried to pass the pet off as a service animal to avoid the fees. Of course this doesn't happen all the time but it does make it a lot harder for the true service/emotional support animals out there.

I'll just give an example of my own case. This is part of the reason why this issue is very near and dear to my heart. I have a pet I am very emotionally attached to. I honestly feel like she's my only friend and I have considered asking my doctor for the letter to make her an emotional support animal so I can fly with her. Since I work for an airline I fly a lot! and she is too large to be a cabin pet so the only way I could travel with here anywhere would be as an emotional support animal. But the fact of the matter is that I don't need my dog with me at all times, I can function fine without her so would not feel right asking my doctor to consider her an emotional support animal.

I am not saying our mental disabilities are less life-altering than physical disabilities. I'm just saying we shouldn't use our mental disabilities as a means to travel with our pets unless they truly are providing a service. I meant no disrespect to the original poster.

Thanks!
Anin
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:32 AM   #24
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Hi Anin,

once again I can only repeat that I think it wrong to judge someone else's motives without actually knowing their situation.

If someone has documentation for their service/support animal, then they should not be given the 3rd degree about it. If their doctor felt it was needed then that should be enough "proof"

I am personally offended at how often physically and mentally disabled people have to jump through hoops to "prove" their needs. They are already dealing with enough and it pains me to see them have to have extra burdens loaded on them

yes, there are people who are chancers....that is life and it occurs in all areas. But to make people already suffering go through more on the slim chance that they are faking is IMHO and abuse of authority.

sorry but this is an issue I feel very strongly on too

nomatter the "fakers" I would rather see 100 of them get through than see even one genuine person denied the right to have their service/support animal with them.
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Last edited by Chemar; 12-12-2008 at 11:40 AM. Reason: PS just wanted to add I am postig my views here as a member and not from my NT admin position
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:16 PM   #25
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nomatter the "fakers" I would rather see 100 of them get through than see even one genuine person denied the right to have their service/support animal with them.[/QUOTE]


AMEN to that! I'll be traveling with an ESA for the first time on Saturday and I keep having panic attacks. I'm afraid I'm going to be given the third degree and I don't know how to handle if if I am! I'm terrified of the personnel making a scene at my expense!
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Old 02-10-2009, 05:16 PM   #26
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Chat ESA, Service animals, SWA

While one trip on SWA the flight was not only full but had many disabled people. My golden doodle stood in the bulkhead in front of me with his front paws and face in my lap, shoulders. Good thing it was the shortest flight you can find. lol The disabled gentleman who I had the enjoyment of sharing the flight with was with the Shake-a-leg sailing organization for the disabled. He invited me to a free sail!
Anyway, all my other flights on SouthWest have been wonderful! With my previous labrador I flew strictly American Airlines, and never had a problem Of course, that could be because my brother worked for them? But it was always first class flying with them.

I read here where someone said they would get a paper saying their animal is a "psychiatric service dog." Never heard of one that way before. HOWEVER do know that if you use the term "service" dog/animal, that you must be able to share at least 3 tasks the animal does for you that you cannot do for yourself. You also need to demonstrate that you have complete control of the animal at "all" times. ("All" being a bit subjective.)

No, airlines do not have to allow emotional support animals. And if they suspect that your animal can't do any tasks for you (such as my bunny) they can deny it access to the cabin.

I think I understand all sides to these situations, and that many other disabled people do also. Please don't stretch the law. It's a very tough place to be to NEED assistance and not be in a place of having it. That goes for those who are questioned unreasonably about their service animals, and for those who aren't able to obtain a truly trained assistance animal.

While we need a national certification program (or better yet, a State oversight department working off national guidelines) let's not push things before we can comply well enough. Those who are on the boundaries of legal and not needing to worry about legal will fall through the cracks if we push certification before the sponsors and volunteers are made available, imo.

Peace!

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Old 02-10-2009, 05:19 PM   #27
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Heart Just for Tiffy

Tiffy, please call the airline and tell them it is an ESA. You might print up a tag to hang on it's container (that fits under the seat in front of you)... put it in fine print, but put the truth. They don't have to allow it, but most want to be able to. If you that IS your carry-on, and you are quiet and polite when speaking to them, being honest, odds are they will let it fly in the cabin.

Don't be afraid to ask them to ask the pilot if they can make an exception, should they insist no emotional support animals in cabin. If you tell them about your panic disorder, and how the animal calms you, they probably will want one for every passenger!

You might be required to pay a $50 fee for the ESA to fly in cabin under the seat. IDK GOOD WISHES ON THIS FLIGHT!
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:17 PM   #28
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My Psychiatrist just agreed to fill out any forms necessary to have my little Nico deemed as a Psychiatric service dog,so if I ever travel anywhere he will be allowed on aircrafts, trains, cruiseships, but I wouldn't subject him to a crowded bus! He just told me when I'm ready to travel somewhere,let him know, and hell get the proper forms off the internet for when and where,and what form of travel I'm traveling and fill them out. He said each airline has it's own forms,and each cruiseship also has it's own forms,and you have to get them filled out at the time you are traveling,and where,all the specifics. He said there isn't just a basic form you fill out and carry around in your wallet or pocket,for travel anytime,anywhere! He pulled it up on the internet while I was in his office.
WHOA wait a minute!... getting a letter from your psychiatrist does not make your untrained dog a service animal. Is your psychiatrist a dog trainer that can state your dog is trained to mitigate your disability and safe to be in public? A letter doesn't make a service dog, training makes the service dog. If you are bringing a dog into public that doesn't do tasks to mitigate your disability then you are impersonation a service dog and your dr wrote a fruadulent letter. You doctor can say that you need or use one but cannot say that the dog is a service dog without a certain amount of liability.

If you intend to train your dog to reach full service dog status then you should be refering to the dog as a service dog in training (SDIT). In public never refer to a service dog in training as an emotional support dog (ESA). This misleads the public to believe they can bring their pets everywhere just cause they love their pets and feel guilty leaving them home. Emotional support dogs stay home, service dogs go into public places. Also if you refer to your dog as an ESA, public accomodations can deny you access and it is legal to do so (call the DOJ ADA hotline). You can gets an ESA letter for a SDIT if you live in no pet housing as they don't fall under the ADA until fully trained. Many states have laws covering SDIT access, some do not, in those states you must leave if asked to. You can tell them it is a service dog in training but not agrue with them or refuse to leave. If your dog isn't trained and you are refering to them as a service dog and you go to court (yes it sometime happens) then you will likely lose on those grounds in that you can't show them proof that your dog mitigates your disability.

<quote>How did I know if my dog is ready to graduate from SDIT to full service dog status?</quote>
Every service dog should have passed a public access test. The psychiatric service dog society has a great public access test form that you can use. Any dog trainer can administer the test for you.

NEVER NEVER NEVER show any drs letter or ID when in public places with a SD. You are not required and not everyone carries them. Plus they are useless peices of paper as anyone can get their dr to sign a letter for a SD or buy and ID online. They are not proof. The law only allows business to ask 3 questions... are you disabled? is this your service dog? what tasks does your service dog do to mitigate your disability? They CANNOT require ID or documentation. Generally if the police need to be called because of a public access issue then I'd be more inclined to present it to the officer but never to the store employee or manager. Carry law cards instead that state the laws and present those. I generally do not carry an ID and if you make people think they have a right to require it I might have a hard time gaining access especially since I refuse to show it.

Back in Oct I flew with my SDIT but under SD status as she's pretty close to finishing training on SW. They have been nothing but great to me. I've flown with them 3 times and never had issues. They have always required I present IDs but that is the only unreasonable request I've ever had with them as her harness and behavior should have been good enough. They even saved me a bulkhead when they had already preboarded before I got to the gate. My dog was great and just layed there and slept the whole time just like she's supposed to. Never reacted to anything.

Be aware of new ACAA regulations that come into effect in March. From now on psychiatric service dogs require the same documentation as ESA. The reason is some people who couldn't get drs notes for ESA would buy IDs and pass off their pets as service dogs, show dog people were especially notorious for doing this. So now in order to fly with a PSD or ESA you must, give 48 hours notice before you fly and have a doctors note written by a psychiatrist. This regulation caused by fakers has hurt the whole PSD community as we are being singled out. They have also put more restrictions on what kinds of ESA can fly in the cabin. I do not refer to my dog as a PSD and therefore will not be effected by this regulation as I have an non-psychiatric hidden disability (not visible) which my dog helps with.

If your dog cannot handle a crowded bus then maybe you should rethink training them as a service dog. Not every dog has what it takes. I have washed out 3 dogs and retired one early in the past 1.5 yr. All went to really nice homes except the retired one. After 4 yrs of loyal service I'm not going to part with her. She is just a pet now.

Back in Oct I went to DC and my dog did great. There were lots or crowds nearly everywhere you went but she handled it like a champ. Crowds are a normal event when in public and your dog should be unaffected by them or if anything pay even closer attention to you. As a group of other teams we all went to a dog park and gave our dogs some off time. It was pretty obvious which dogs were SD as they would periodically go check in with their handler.

So the letter doesn't make the service dog, the training does. If you do not meet the definition of disabled, "having one or more life activity substantially limitted" or the dog doesn't, "individually trained to mitigate the disability" then the dog doesn't belong in public unless they don't meet the definition and are in training. It doesn't matter if your dog's presence makes you able to leave your house, if they are not task trained, they are not a service dog. It is so easy to fix that if that is the case. Simply think of what your dog could physically do to help you managed better when out of the house that you can't do and train them to do those things. It generally doesn't count as an official task if you can do it yourself.

Now access challenges... Many time access challenges are affected by the breed you have and how you carry yourself. If you walk in hessitant and act nervous about having your dog with you then you will likely be challenged. If you walk in confident like every other person as if the dog is not with you, you are likely to have less challenges. German shepherds, golden retrievers, labs, and sometimes std poodles generally don't get as many challenges as they are common breeds used as service dogs, other breeds especially small ones. Small dogs generally get more challenges that larger dogs. If your dog has an accident (should only happen if they are sick), you must clean it up yourself and not expect to leave it for the store to clean. If they damage any merchandise, you must pay for it. They should never beg or grab food off the floor or tables and be glued to your side for the most part when in public.

Pretty soon the ADA definition of a service animal will be changed to exclude dogs used for personal protection and dogs who's sole purpose is to provide emotional support. So better start training those dogs tasks so they qualify when it passes. There was also meantion that it may exclude all other types of animals except dogs and guide horses from being allowed to be service animals.

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Old 02-16-2009, 02:24 PM   #29
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Tiffy, please call the airline and tell them it is an ESA. You might print up a tag to hang on it's container (that fits under the seat in front of you)... put it in fine print, but put the truth. They don't have to allow it, but most want to be able to. If you that IS your carry-on, and you are quiet and polite when speaking to them, being honest, odds are they will let it fly in the cabin.

Don't be afraid to ask them to ask the pilot if they can make an exception, should they insist no emotional support animals in cabin. If you tell them about your panic disorder, and how the animal calms you, they probably will want one for every passenger!

You might be required to pay a $50 fee for the ESA to fly in cabin under the seat. IDK GOOD WISHES ON THIS FLIGHT!

No Tiffy must have a letter from a mental health professional and give 48 hours notice that the dog will be flying, otherwise they are not supposed to allow it. As long as the letter is satisfactory and dog if well-behaved no carrier is needed. Tiffy also should not be charged to fly with her ESA. The airlines are required to allow it. Make sure you bring the ACAA regulations and calling before to make sure you have everything you need to make it as easy as possible. Just remember when you get to your destination that you need to stay at a pet friendly hotel and pay the pet deposit.
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:37 PM   #30
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Please note my response quoting justice was not only directed to justice but to everyone.
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