A person I know well has a blog entitled Rants and Raves. She will alternatively give a thumbs up or down on various subjects that come her way. In that spirit, a rant is on its way as I try to channel my inner Andy Rooney and try my curmudgeonly best…
Witness three incidents, separated by time and space, all sharing a common denominator:
I was on a cross country flight and had just settled into my cramped seat when a woman in the seat ahead of me pulled a miniature dog out of her purse (!). She seemed to be very pleased with herself as the other passengers oohed and aahed over her animal. A few seconds later the flight attendant rushed by and told her in very curt terms to stow the animal away in its container (her purse), that she had told that she could only bring the dog on board if it remained in the purse (!). The dog owner gave the attendant an icy stare and reluctantly placed the dog back into the purse (!) for the remainder of the flight. I later saw the two compadres in the baggage claim area, though this time the dog was in a small container with the embroidered letters “Emotional Support Animal” boldly emblazoned on the side.
In my capacity as the director of a county health department, I was approached by one of my Environmental Health Specialists regarding a request from a certain lady to house miniature horses within the city limits of the burg where we live. It seems the neighbors were complaining of the stench and flies associated with the animals. Of course, having the animals was against city code, but the owners of the fine steeds were requesting an exemption to the code on the basis that these were “emotional support animals” and were to be allowed to go wherever the owners went, including into the grocery store and other fine establishments that may not want to cater to the equine loving crowd.
In another store a few weeks ago I spied a rough looking gentleman who appeared to have a dark, hairy growth protruding from the side of his neck. The man ambled about the store with his neck askew as if he had suffered from congenital torticollis from his infancy. As I got a closer peek I noted that he had a tiny dog sitting on his right shoulder, one that was shaking and constantly adjusting itself to maintain its balance on the aforementioned shoulder. I then recalled that I had seen the very same gentleman in both the post office a few months ago and in a Walmart a few weeks prior as well. I seemed to remember that the dog had been similarly perched on his shoulder at that time as well. Questions came flooding to my mind. Did he sleep with the dog on his shoulder? How did he take a shower? How does one remove a shirt with a dog ever present next to one’s ear?
I don’t know much about animals serving as “emotional support” vehicles, but it seems to me that some line has been crossed somewhere. The definition doesn’t appear to be much different than any other pet, just that one must acquire documentation of the need for this “support”. I suspect that there would be a psychiatrist in any town that might provide such a letter. Just as handicapped placards in cars can be abused; it would appear that this idea of emotional support animals has gone well beyond for what it was intended. Perhaps the psychiatrists in the crowd can steer me right, but for now it appears that it’s a dog’s world out there…