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Psychiatric Service Dogs & Emotional Support Animals

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Old 03-04-2009, 10:06 AM   #31
Tiffy
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Default Thank You!

Everyone, thanks for all of your help!

The flight was alright. I had a layover, so technically there were two.

I flew United. Ironically, they didn't make me show them my letter from my therapist (which I thought was weird because Delta gate agents are dog Nazis, even when you're a paying customer!).

On the first flight, the crew was a dream. They asked, "who is this??" I thought I was about to be interrogated so I began to pull my letter out. The two of them said, "OH! We believe you, don't worry about it!" So I put the letter back, totally puzzled. My dog was allowed to fly on my lap through the entire flight.

The second flight was a little different... while they still didn't ask for the letter while I was boarding, the flight attendant didn't allow me to hold her on my lap. I had to keep her in the crate under the seat (I know I didn't HAVE to have this, but I brought it just in case). I was sitting in the aisle and everyone was staring. I was feeling embarrassed so instead of explaining (which I had a feeling wouldn't work anyway), I just put her in her bag. The problem was that my dog wasn't incredibly thrilled, since she was on my lap the flight before.

The dog, herself, was a dream. She was very quiet and sat calmly the entire time (while on my lap).

The nerve racking thing is that for some reason, I feel like I "got lucky" and won't enjoy this type of service again. I used to just pay to take her ($175 one-way, to control my emotions!) with me because I couldn't stand to be in that kind of situation without her... Delta gave me such a horrible problem one time. The gate agent stopped me, made a HUGE scene, and embarrassed me to death. It caused me to miss my flight and ended up taking me 24 hours being in airports and on planes to reach my destination. This is especially stressful because I had to keep my dog in her bag for the full 24 hours, with the exception of taking her to the bathroom during layovers. Ever since then, my anxiety about being accepted in public has been worse!! Furthermore, I'm a 26-year-old female with a small dog. People probably look at me and say, "Yeah, right!"

Why must people judge?
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Old 03-04-2009, 10:16 AM   #32
Tiffy
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Default Another Thought...

You guys, I totally support the law and I greatly respect the rights and needs of all people.

Because the flying thing is so fresh on my mind, I'm going to use it as an example for my question.

In the letter from my therapist, it was required for her to indicate that I "use the dog for emotional support" and I "have a disability."

If, in fact, I must be deemed as one who has a disability, why is my disability not afforded the same rights as people with other disabilities? I realize mine is not visible and not always constant (I am not always having an anxiety attack, while a blind person must constantly have their dog with them), but what is the thought here?

Don't get me wrong, I know there is a difference in training, (a service dog must be individually trained to assist its owner with his/her disability), however, the rules have changed for 2009. The dog no longer needs formal training.

Please don't think I'm asking this question to take advantage. The only time I have ever taken my dog with me in a questionable place was on the airplane, with my documentation... I never try to take her to restaurants or grocery stores, etc. I'm just really curious as to why things are the way they are.
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Old 04-06-2009, 04:52 PM   #33
kaemka77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiffy View Post
the rules have changed for 2009. The dog no longer needs formal training.
Who has told you that?
I don't know what do you exactly mean by a "formal training", but the ADA never had a requirement for a service dog to be trained by specific institution or program. The individual training was and still is a requirement. The dog must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
There are many excellent websites that explain these issues.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:54 PM   #34
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Hi kaemka77. Welcome to NeuroTalk.
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:55 PM   #35
chaoticidealism
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Would my cats qualify as "emotional support animals" for the purpose of housing?

I have two cats. They are well trained to use their litter box and scratching posts and do not cause damage.

I am autistic, and the cats allow for "safe", non-stressful social interaction, and I can talk to them without worrying that I'll embarrass somebody, mix up my words, or say something stupid. Since I'm socially isolated, interacting with them really helps. Additionally, when I'm extremely stressed out, petting a cat can help, both because of the comforting texture of the fur and because a cat is heavy and warm when it sits on you.

I don't know, though, that this is any more "emotional support" than the average cat would provide for the average owner. And, while two cats are easier to take care of than one because they keep each other busy, two cats may be harder to explain than one.

The housing problem is because I am on SSI and it is difficult to find an apartment that fits within that price limit. Most in that range do not allow pets. I got lucky with a landlord who changed his mind about the pet policy this time, because he sees I take good care of my cats, but I may not be so fortunate in the future.

What do you think?
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Old 04-14-2009, 11:10 PM   #36
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Book Psychiatric SERVICE Dogs under federal law

Someone has (once again) told those on this forum that a SERVICE dog MUST be trained in SPECIFIC TASKS that enable a person with a disability to function more fully in this world, whether at home or in private. They follow this up by explaining that there could therefore be NO psychiatric service dog unless the dog was needed to fetch your medicines along with a bottle of water or (presumably) to knock you down and restrain you (with his vast body weight if not his jaws) if you, as a psychiatric patient, are in the midst of a paranoid wild-eyed state of ranting and raving. Just joking - and NOT making fun of the mentally ill - I IS ONE!!

There CONTINUES to be a lot of prejudice against those physical brain conditions and illnesses that are considered "mental illnesses" and therefore "all in your head" (ie, if not exactly imaginary, then most certainly a put-on to get attention or to excuse less than "normal" behaviors, emotions, interpersonal functioning) and (sometimes) the ability to be gainfully employed (because of inabilities to move (or restrain movements). With the so-called MENTAL illnesses (and they ARE true legitimate PHYSICAL BRAIN illnesses and/or disorders), the disability is most often related to such things as the inability to cope with others at work or with the structure or lack of structure in the workplace, or to such things as the achieve "normal" goals such as finishing an education or maintaining a stable long-term adult relationship. It even includes the inability to function in "normal" day to day tasks and create and/or maintain a stable and orderly environment, including routine wake/sleep cycles.

My psychiatrist classified my dog as a SERVICE ANIMAL because she enables me do "normal" things like exit my apartment more often than every three weeks (only because I run out of bread & milk, even that stored in the freezer) or being unable to exit the apartment during the daylight hours. And unable to utilize a laundry room, unable to dump trash unless it was in the wee hours of the morning around 4 am. Because my landlady would leave a note on my door that I HAD to empty my mailbox because it would not hold one more thing. Because I could not drive alone more than a short distance from my home and NEVER to the small nearby city without having a disabling panic attack and hysterical crying for fear I would crash if I left on the drive.

The above mental illness governed emotional responses to "normal daily activities" and my dog enabled me to overcome years of home confinement and social isolation. When a dog can make such a severely disabled person achieve activities that nearly 100% of the population consider so normal that they don't consider them as "equal" to being confined to a wheelchair or other visible disabilities.

She is my "furry valium" and one cannot drive a motor vehicle while doped up on valium. She makes it possible for me to be independent. She enabled me to not only get on a series of jets and travel 2500 miles, she enabled me to retrace my steps and MOVE back those 2500 miles --- driving, hauling a trailer, sleeping in truck stops between 18-wheelers, with my small dog elevated in a specially built safety platform on the bucket seat beside me so she could spend her days with a view.

This was a very healthy move for me, one my psychiatrist & therapist had urged me to do (to get away as far away from my toxic abusive family as possible). True, it took me two months to pack up my one-bedroom apartment.... It took me resetting my disconnect/connect utility dates several times (and my very sweet and understanding landlady accepted my repeated notices of anticipated move-out dates). After knowing me for the years I had lived there, she (like my parents) truly thought I would never actually move. I had tried to do so before and finally realized that my terror was so incredible at the thought of moving to someplace where I knew no one that I just gave up on any idea like that at all. I knew I was terrified to the point of actual incapacity to act.

Because I live in a subsidized apartment (a benefit of being on SSI and requiring heavily rent-subsidized housing - since SSI means varying amounts over $600 a month), having my dog means I HAVE to open the door and go out at least twice a day, and she enables me to go shopping as often as I need to or when the specials are too good to pass up. She enables me to periodically pick up my mail at the post office tho she can't solve the problem of getting me to open my mail - tho I am improving over the years when I simply threw the accumulated scattered piles away every few years.

There are TWO KINDS OF LAW (lots of lawyers in my family). There is law that is proposed and approved by the vote of governmental bodies of duly elected representatives of the people. These constitute and fill the books of statutes and codes that line walls of law libraries - this is codified law. Then there is "Case Law" created by some person or group of persons who challenge "the way things are". Case Law, if strong and supported regardless of various legal challenges in the courts, will become codified law. Look at things such as curb cuts, accessible toilets, slanted entries into various public-accessible buildings. Case Law also created the RIGHT of the disabled to fight for equal rights to be considered for employment on an equal basis with the non-disabled. Case Law eventually becomes codified law. "on the books" as they say.

You see, many (but obviously not all) MENTALLY ILL persons have persistant and all-pervasive disabling conditions that keep them from having equal rights of access and opportunity. THOSE conditions and the results of those conditions are FULLY codified as being part and parcel of the LEGAL CRITERIA for "legally disabled under federal law".

So what does a Psychiatric Service Dog need to be trained to do? Unlike a purely emotional support animal who usually is needed for solely for physical calming and easing of emotional lability, a service dog MUST be perfectly behaviorally trained AND also of the perfect temperment to lay quietly in the bottom of a shopping cart, at my feet or in her over-the-shoulder carrier for up to HOURS at a time without fuss or breaking command.

Tempermentally, my dog is about as cuddly as a ceramic dog or a particularly aloof and independent cat - but I do not need and indeed could not emotionally handle a dog who was so bonded to me that she constantly dogged my every step, or had to have frequent petting and interaction. She is a perfect match for my needs and a perfect example of ANY service dog when she is in public "at work". When we are out on her long lead, just out for a walk to enjoy walking, she knows she is not "at work" and runs and bounces, acting just like any other dog, showing absolutely no outward signs of being well-behaved. This, too, is a perfect example of ANY service dog. Dogs need "off duty" time to be emotionally stable and refreshed for again being "on duty".

The long and short of it is this - My dog is allowed into NO PETS federally-subsidized housing (without any "pet deposit" allowed) because she IS a service animal -- and her right to do so has been established thru years of those who OWN rent-subsidized housing fighting this out in court cases with the federal government always winning.

My current small local grocery has asked me to not take her down the produce or meat aisles and to bring a towel or blanket for her to lie upon in the basket, but they have no grounds for banning her. They would have to hire an attorney and fight it out in court. I don't mind the aisle restrictions as I can park her at the end of the aisle where she can see me the entire time. The fact that most people who pass me shopping me never even realize that there is an animal in my cart shows that it is working very well. If she barked, tried to get attention from people, stood up and leaned over the side, then they would no doubt complain, but she would then not be my service animal --- she would have a different owner and I would own a different animal who COULD be trained and who had the needed calm and patient temperment.

She is always welcomed at WalMart (because it is crowded there, she prefers that I bring her soft crate in so she can be hidden in "her cave" and snooze away in padded comfort), at the post office, the city government office, my doctor appointments and (in her padded soft-side crate) into restaurants and, of course, onto planes. Crated, she can ride beside me or beneath the seat on public city transportation.

At the airport, I am placed in the "load first" line with unaccompanied children and those in wheelchairs or needing an assistant. If it is available, I can have a bulkhead seat and even on the SAME airline (Southwest Airlines), she may be (or may not be) allowed out of her crate to sleep stretched out at my feet or curled up on my lap. It all depends upon the head steward - but usually she is the spoiled darling of the attendants. The bulkhead seat means she can watch me go into and come out of the restroom, so she doesn't freak out at "my losing her and her losing me".

The lesson is for you and your therapist/psychiatrist to evaluate your own conditions to evaluate whether you qualify for a service dog. Next is to evaluate your present dog or the adult dog you intend to adopt for their fitness for perfect "in public" behavior as well as their temperment for what comes with the territory. Additionally, they must be dogs who will NEVER EVER bite someone. I do not let children near her when she is on duty (as I educate them and their parents) and I dissuade adults from fawning over her, explaining that she is at work and could become "untrained" from the behaviors she needs to exhibit when on duty.

Most small companion lap dogs are WAY too small for the Service Dog vests freely offered for sale online to ANYONE with a credit card with no proof of a qualified animal on the receiving end of the shipment, and special collars and tags can be totally undetectable under long furry coats, but there ARE leashes with various messages printed on them. Whenever you are encountering a new situation, it is best to carry the printed out federal law defining the nature of protected "disability", a bundle of case law, and the letter from your psychiatrist (an M.D. carries more weight than from a therapist). Crossing borders and boarding planes, have the actual paperwork from the rabies vaccination and a fairly current statement of the health of the animal.

As anyone can tell up to this point, golden retrievers and labs (never mind the scores of breeds larger than toys) are NOT good psychiatric SERVICE animals as walking a dog down a grocery aisle with the leash between you and a casually strolling animal is a potential actual hazard - and the chances for a passing person to act inappropriately and get growled or snapped at --- well, it just don't work. Plus, city buses can restrict you to a single 2-wheeled shopping cart or two shopping carry-totes, so any dog MUST be crated and able to be stowed under your seat. This disgruntles many men who want their pet to be able to go anywhere with them on leash.

A psychiatric service dog should only be prescribed when it is a NECESSITY rather than an option, therefore it is the burden on the patient to choose only an appropriately trained animal to fulfill the role. This is the only way to gain the recognition of the range of psychiatric disability and thus the acceptance by the public.

An aside. While it is NOT necessary for your psychiatrist to name your illness or even the reasons the SERVICE animal is needed, but I am a strong proponent of putting and keeping mental illness in the public's face on a continuing and strongly demonstrated basis. I have no problem with telling people that I have severe cumulative post traumatic syndrome and bipolar disorder (ie, manic-depressive disorder), and explaining to the shocked, outraged or the merely curious that she is "my furry valium". I often, for the disbelieving or totally clueless, enumerate, in detail, the nature of my qualifying symptoms and explain how my service dog has changed my life.

I hope this helps give valid support and helpful advice to those who ARE in legitimate need of a service animal regardless of the fact that there are always those who will assert that the mentally ill never need anything more than an emotional support animal and that the nature of their disabilities could never approach the level of their actually NEEDING an animal to allow them rights guaranteed to the disabled under federal law.

Keep your chin up, be strong and persistant, and CHOOSE THE RIGHT DOG, no matter how much you love that cute puppy or wish it could be your current dog or your favorite breed.

Theresa
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Old 04-14-2009, 11:38 PM   #37
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Thumbs up Getting Emotional Support Cats Accepted by landlords

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaoticidealism View Post
Would my cats qualify as "emotional support animals" for the purpose of housing?

I have two cats. They are well trained to use their litter box and scratching posts and do not cause damage.

I am autistic, and the cats allow for "safe", non-stressful social interaction, and I can talk to them without worrying that I'll embarrass somebody, mix up my words, or say something stupid. Since I'm socially isolated, interacting with them really helps. Additionally, when I'm extremely stressed out, petting a cat can help, both because of the comforting texture of the fur and because a cat is heavy and warm when it sits on you.

I don't know, though, that this is any more "emotional support" than the average cat would provide for the average owner. And, while two cats are easier to take care of than one because they keep each other busy, two cats may be harder to explain than one.

The housing problem is because I am on SSI and it is difficult to find an apartment that fits within that price limit. Most in that range do not allow pets. I got lucky with a landlord who changed his mind about the pet policy this time, because he sees I take good care of my cats, but I may not be so fortunate in the future.

What do you think?
Dear ChaoticIdealism (love your handle here)...

If you have read my post above, you will see that psychiatric service dogs are allowed in subsidized housing and (thankfully) many such no-pet housing, having so many unmarried disabled tenants, have become aware of the prescribing of psychiatric support animals, to include cats and birds.

IF your psychiatrist or your primary care doctor write out a prescription for you, prescribing the NEED for a psychiatric/psychological support animal (being written out on letterhead has the best impact), and (if needed) backed up by more explanatory notes by the doctor that persons with your kind of disability NEED this substitute for unobtainable/unsustainable human contact. Or words to whatever effect. Most doctors are avidly eager to comply with your suggestion for an animal to augment your life and medical care, but many will ask you to "just write it all out for me and I'll sign it" or some such. I wrote mine out and accompanied the submission with the links to the web pages of federal law governing federally covered disabilities and an reminder of the various inabilities I had that could (I hoped) be alleviated by having the right animal. (I went thru one totally inappropriate dog - too young and pathological incurable attachment disorder - she needed more psych meds than I did!

Then, when you submit the letter of prescription to the manager, accompany it with the pages of case law governing public-subsidized housing as she will have to fax all this to the head office. If she worries about "cats peeing on the carpet", a letter from any former roommate or landlord who can attest to the condition of the carpet/flooring when you moved out will suffice to calm those fears.

Actually, WalMart sells an enzyme product (not a perfumed one, but odorless) that IF there is ever a mistake (like if your cat gets closed up in the bedroom), you simply blot up all possible liquid and/or soil, then apply the solution generously and cover it with plastic or foil, weight it down with books or such, and let the enzymes do their work for 24 hours. You will have ZERO stain or odor to live with. The bottle has a cartoon dog and cat, sitting next to each other, with closed eyes, holding their noses. This was, for many years, the best possible, but there is a new product in tablet form where you activate it with mildly warm water and use it promptly (no shelf life). I found it offered online as a sample and surprisingly found it to be excellent when my poor dog vomited behind my bed one night - and you KNOW how red dog biscuit color stains carpet!

Go ahead, prepare yourself with prescription and confidence, and go apply for an apartment. You may be happily surprised to find it an non-issue.

OneMoreTime
ps: Your being disabled (never mind your being on SSI and them being federally subsidized housing), they are not allowed to charge you a pet deposit.
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:21 AM   #38
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Poll Travel - Regarding Airlines & Hotels

Regarding traveling with your emotional support or psychiatric service animal, there is no standard process for all airlines, nor will all airline employees you encounter respond in the same way - of this you can be certain!

The best thing to do is to first (before you buy a ticket) check the airline's website for their guidelines and rules governing your animal. But then call them and ask what the rules are. Ask for a supervisor unless the person at the other end is reading outloud from an official document. Ask them where online you can access that document (the url) and then print it out. It can help save you time and employee confusion at the check-in counter.

Arrive early, go thru all the search and seize stuff, and immediately take your dog or cat (IN THEIR CARRIER) to the check-in counter at your departure gate. Have all your documentation sleeved within page protectors and in a binder so you can hand over the folder so they can see that you have all your paperwork in order. Just smile confidently and be relaxed. You and your pet WILL be allowed on as long as they are crated and not barking hysterically or meow/screaming like you're trying to drown them. If your pet has not been acclimatized to being confined to the softmesh-sided over the shoulder crate you will need, then start getting them used to it, seeing it as a friendly comfortable retreat... and take them for car rides until and carry them around a mall or down a sidewalk or whatever until they feel and act secure and relaxed.

If you are changing planes between legs of your trip, find out how close the doors to the outside grassy areas are to the gates. If you have doubts about your physical ability to tote your carry on bag(s) and your pet, you can request (before landing) to have transportation waiting for you. If they aren't waiting for you, waste no time in getting someone to summon an attendant. Some airports have electric carts with flashing blue lights, but at some the best you can hope for is a wheelchair. Regardless, In 6 lay-overs, I never had a bad experience.

FYI-- hard-sided crates are generally not allowed - too dangerous in turbulance or accident as they cannot be firmly wedged beneath your seat, tucked securely behind your legs)

My dog is large for a toy - 13 pound Pekingnese - and so she is not able to stand up in her crate, so I unzip the "peek out" end so she can stand up and stretch her legs during stops where I am not changing planes. Actually, she wakes up only upon landing and falls asleep the minute we get out of the initial take off. Her only problem is a running nose, both onboard all planes, and both inside and outside the terminals. I presume it is caused by general air pollution of some sort as she does the same if we visit some one who smokes cigarettes. Jet fuel is kerosene.

If your dog is a service animal, a hotel is not allowed to charge you extra for the room. I am not familiar with pet deposits, but it seems fair unless you don't get it back til it arrives in the mail somewhere in the future - which does seem inevitable unless you can demand an english-speaking maid to do a walk thru and sign off on something you can carry to the desk that the dog/cat did not soil or wet the carpet or shred the shower curtain or claw the drapes.

Regardless, don't book the room thru an online service (if you wish to) until after you have called the hotel direct and spoken to a manager (don't call during their busy check-in, check-out times - middle of the night is great).

They can tell you what the hotel's policies are, can book you a downstairs room near a door if you like for walking your dog. For that matter, they can let you know how far you will have to walk to find a place for your dog to eliminate. Tell them you will be bringing baggies for clean up after your dog and that you will dispose of it outside (most all hotels have a lined waste can outside the front door for fast food wrapper and beverage disposal, et al.

Good luck with all your traveling with your pet....
OneMoreTime
ps: I've never even been frowned at for bring my pet's carrier into a McDonald's. Suspect there are a lot of friendlies out there. WalMarts always love her and never even seem freaked by a dog in their store - even the ones with grocery sections.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:02 AM   #39
Tiffy
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Default Time to Reassess the Laws on Airlines?

I have an emotional support dog. She’s actually trained to do some things that help me with some of my problems (along the lines of panic attacks and OCD, but I won’t get into details) so I guess, by definition, she’s technically a service animal. I am in my mid-twenties and my dog is small so I don’t publicly claim that she is a service animal because I don’t want to have to deal with the criticism of being called a “Paris Hilton wannabe…” In fact, until the fees became completely outrageous, I paid for her to fly with me on airplanes, stay with me in hotels and live with me in my apartment so I wouldn’t have to deal with people’s comments.

The last couple of times I have flown, she has been with me as an “emotional support” dog. I have the necessary documentation from my doctor to back my claim.

The issue I am having is this: while I understand that many people try to take advantage of the system by passing their animals off as “emotional support” animals or what have you, the stress and embarrassment that come from having to legitimately make this claim and produce the documentation can make matters worse than they were to begin with. Let me explain by sharing my latest experience with you. Please note that I realize the airline acted within their rights.

I booked my flights a month in advance. From that time up until the night before I left, I made 4 separate calls to the airline to inform them I was flying with an emotional support animal and to confirm this was in their system. I was flying on Delta and this was a round-trip. Although I didn’t experience any difficulty on my trip away, coming home was a bit different. The first problem I encountered was that I was not allowed to check-in online. This, of course, was Delta’s way of getting me to check-in at the ticket counter and to give them the opportunity to interrogate me and/or try to get me to pay. I know this, because as I have said, I used to pay to have my dog fly with me before the cost was raised to $150 one-way.

I clearly have huge issues with flying, hence the ESA, so I was already stressing out. I was furthermore worried that somehow, I’d be refused boarding. I was afraid they’d be too technical and claim that some type of wording or something in the letter wasn’t exactly what it needed to be. (This actually happened to me over Christmas with Delta… I was refused boarding and it took me 24 hours to get home for Christmas. I will never forget the stress and panic attacks I had that day!)

As I waited in the line for over an hour, my breathing began to quicken. I could feel my heart beat faster. My mouth became so dry, that I literally lost my voice until I could find my water bottle. I became light-headed and kept feeling like I was going to pass out. This was the time before the flight that I usually go through my imagery and exercises to calm me down, but instead, I was standing in this line. It was really upsetting me! I finally approached the desk. The woman behind the counter was actually nice (thank heavens) but she wasn’t familiar with Delta’s policy regarding an emotional support animal. She inquired about this with her manager or coworker who was standing next to her, helping another customer.

The man very loudly exclaimed “She can only have the dog if she has a letter from her doctor stating she has a disability.” His voice was deep and loud, and it carried back to the massive line standing behind me. I turned around to see just about every face staring in my direction. I think I blushed, and I began to shake. I was so afraid of everyone thinking I was a fraud because I’m young and my dog is small. I was very upset. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the man repeated himself about 2 or 3 more times. I think he liked to hear himself repeat policy – like it made him feel important or knowledgeable or whatever. He looked at me (and so did the customer he was helping) and said, “Do you have documentation from your doctor?”

I couldn’t even speak. I just nodded my head and pulled my letter out of my bag for the agent to read. It was so embarrassing because my hand was shaking as I did it, and everyone was watching.

The nice lady read my letter and I think she could tell that the last thing I needed was more stress, so she didn’t look at it long. The loud agent then said, “And you need to have one of these tags on your bag.” It was the same, typical green one that they always used to give me when I paid to carry my dog on. He then looked at his co-worker and said, “Did the letter say that she needed the dog to be with her in flight??”

I was eventually given my boarding pass. When I arrived at the gate, even though my dog was in the system as a support animal, the gate agent stopped me as I was boarding to check my tag and, I assume, make sure I wasn’t trying to “get away” with anything. It actually made me mad. How many more employees were going to question/interrogate me? What more did I have to do to get on the d*** plane?

By this time, I was just so upset and humiliated, not to mention TERRIFIED for my flight… right as I walked on the plane, I began to hyperventilate. It was HORRIBLE! One of the flight attendants was standing in front of me and said, “Oh dear, honey. Do you need a napkin?” I nodded. It was very sweet of her, and immediately started a waterfall of tears. I was MORTIFIED at this point. I was in the front of the plane that was nearly full… all of first class and coach could see me hysterically crying! And what’s worse, my seat was the very last one on the plane, so I had to walk all the way to the back like that!

I had also been told by one of the other flight attendants that my dog HAD to remain in her bag so while I was sitting there, hysterical, my dog was trying to get to me to calm me down. She was scratching her bag, trying to get out and was very upset (during a normal, calm flight, she does not make a peep. She has been trained). So, my emotional support dog was of no use to me in this situation because I was not allowed to have access to her.

Needless to say, the flight was a nightmare. I broke into loud sobs as we took off and spent the remainder of the time trying to hide my face. I kept my head down after we landed as I walked off the plane. ☹

The point I’m trying to make here is that while the airline acted in accordance with the law, their lack of sensitivity (the man yelling my personal information out in front of the crowd), being questioned over and over after I had adequately planned for this trip, and the law itself contributed to making my flight even WORSE than it could have been. The point of having my dog with me and paying all of the money I have to get her trained is so that I can AVOID the very emotional response that I had in this experience.

Like I said, I realize that people try to take advantage of the “emotional support animal” rules to avoid paying for their pets (and heaven forbid, keeping the airline from capitalizing on their animals), but I’d rather see many people take advantage of this than see one person who legitimately NEEDS this, have to go through what I went through.

Honestly, with the way the rules are set now (and if the airline chooses to follow them to the most rigid extent possible), I believe that the benefits of flying with an ESA are negated by the stress that the airline places on the already emotionally unstable passenger. Why must we be treated this way? Why must we have to show documentation when others do not? Just because my problems are not visible does not mean that they don’t exist. I am still so upset!

Does anyone know of any group that is trying to push for more rights for those of us with ESAs? I’d really like to share my story with them.

Thank you for reading this.
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Old 09-23-2009, 07:09 AM   #40
Fallen_Angel
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hey everyone i just had a few quick questions. umm where to start i have severe post traumatic stress disorder, a history of black outs with self mutilation and bad anxiety and panic attacks associated with a diffrent metal illness (nothing bad) a touch of OCD and a blown knee. I have a small dog trained to alert me when someone approaches me if im zoning out or not currently focused. because if someone startles me it can trigger flash backs and a bad episode that can leave me how do you say messed up for several hours if not days. he is trained to get help when i black out (its obvious) or attempt self mutilation. he is also trainied to get my attention if i am focusing on something to long * i can stare into a mirror and find a flaw in my skin or something and convince my self its some illness) and get me to do something else ie play or go for a walk. walk me during nightmares caused by the PTSD. and allow me to focus on him when i am out in huge crowds so i can do what i have to do. he is also trained to retrieve my cell phone when and if i fall. from around my house or from my purse. * i have fallen down a flight of cememnt steps in the past out side at night thanks to him i was able to call family and have someone come and get me.* i am 22 and thanks to him i am no able to go out do errands and such alone. i dont need to be escorted every where. several friends have told me to visit my doctor * also an intense fear of the drs so i have to be escorted and my family hopes with taking him i will be able to attend the doctors alone without spiking my blood pressure* and see if my dog can be classified as a service dog as without him . i cant go out alone. i have 2 weeks until my mother no longer has a week day off. im going back to school (online) and would love to be able to take him with me so i can attend regualr classes and such. i just want to know what people think he is classified as. i have had diffrent comments from a PSD to a SD to a ESA. i dont classify him as an ESA as he is trained for several diffrent things

feed back appreciated
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