I volunteer at several public places (including a zoo) where visitors often bring a pet they claim is a service animal.
Often this is clearly a lie. For example, today a zoo visitor claimed that her cub was a service animal.
When I told her that pets were not allowed in this space, she took exception and dared me to question her about the laws governing service animals.
Management has warned volunteers like me to avoid getting entangled with these people unless the so-called service animal is a nuisance or danger.
When someone insists that their animal companion is a service animal or emotional support animal, we are told to take their animal at their word. This is mainly to avoid the threat of a lawsuit.
Would you like to remind your readers that a service animal is a specific legal entity? Pretending that your dog or any other pet is a service animal does the rest of us a disservice. It is legitimate and selfish behavior that potentially puts other people and other animals at risk.
And that’s not fair to other people who play by the rules and (reluctantly) leave their pet at home. This is part of the responsibility of having a pet.
If everyone took their pet everywhere, we’d see far more pets fighting and pooping and far more allergy sufferers sneezing.
There are many places where pets are welcome. But there are also many places where they would be better off at home.
Dear animal lover:
I sincerely believe that all beloved pets are emotional support animals, but our love for our pets doesn’t entitle us to take them anywhere.
I am happy to publish this public service announcement.
The zoo you volunteer at complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that: A person with a disability accompanied by a service animal may NOT be asked to provide documentation of a disability, to answer questions regarding their disability or to have the service animal demonstrate his work.
I assume this directive also applies to the broader category of emotional support animals.
A new friend helped me out after I got sick during a move. I really appreciated the help from him.
She has decided that I can return the favor by observing her senior cat for several days.
I said, sure, I can go to his house and feed, water and check on his cat.
However, she informed me that no, I would be keeping her cat in my house so she could have company.
This puts my health at risk. I explained that in addition to a cat’s dander, their feces really trigger my allergies.
She said I could keep the cat and her litter box upstairs and stay downstairs, but cleaning the space would mean wearing a mask and repeatedly wiping down any soft objects.
It would be months before I could use that space again.
She is very stubborn and doesn’t seem to want to understand.
My allergies are such that a recent visit from another friend who has a cat caused a huge allergic reaction while I was sitting outside on the terrace. The cat just walked after me, triggering a reaction.
I live by myself, a tough 15 miles from a hospital and I don’t know how bad my allergies can get with daily interaction. I’d give my friend any other help, but I can’t do it.
How do I make my point of view understood?
Allergic and sick
It could be extremely stressful for an older cat to be transported to your home and confined to a new space with limited human interaction. I assume the cat would feel much more comfortable in its own territory while its owner is away.
You must deploy and deliver the power of a solid and polite: No, I’m sorry but due to my severe allergies I cannot do this.
Respectfully and repeatedly refusing this request is how you will get your point across.
I just wanted to offer you an attagirl for your patient, kind, and wise advice to the anxious teen who signed off on her Doubting Everything In Life application. In fact, for this I look forward to your answers to the guys who write to you.
Questions from young people seem to inspire the best in me. Thanks for your kind statement.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter@akingamyorFacebook.)
2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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