Saturday, April 14, 2018

Emotional Support with Fur: "Why Are So Many Animals Now in Places Where They Shouldn’t Be?" | The New Yorker

With domestic pets being included in facets of life previously reserved for their human counterparts, Peter Haldeman's New York Times piece on the accessorizing of pets with their own glamour and lifestyle products, speculates as to the causal source; "Some think this is because of the steady uptick in childless households, "Others point to the atomizing effects of the internet on inter-human relations". There's also the matter of people placing their relationship with their pets in higher regard than their civic or community considerations, or even their fellow human beings. This growing market catering to the inclusion of domestic pets in all imaginable public and private settings, statistically relates to the origins of the recent string of high profile cases of "Emotional Support, With Fur, Drawing Complaints on Planes". The desire for the presence, comfort and security offered by domestic pets in social settings has also become a facet of post-adolescent life, as "Campuses Debate Rising Demands for ‘Comfort Animals’". “Do we have people trying to get their pet across as an assistance animal? Sure,” said Jamie Axelrod, director of disability resources at Northern Arizona University, where requests for support animals rose to about 75 last year from single digits a few years ago. “Do we have people who legitimately require one? We do. You have to rely on a treatment provider’s ethical sense that they’re doing what’s right for their patient,” Mr. Axelrod added. “But it’s a new gray area.”

The question of permissions and the assertion of animal-companionship in public and private spaces was plumbed by Patricia Marks for The New Yorker as a escalating series of social experiments in, "Pets Allowed: Why are So Many Animals Now in Places Where They Shouldn’t Be?". Fundamentally animal access, and their inclusion in public life, is a question of lawfulness and consideration for the safety, health, and regard for other citizens in public space and private businesses. In response to the escalating abuses, and frequency of applications for being made an exception to the law across America, “People are Taking Emotional Support Animals Everywhere. States are Cracking Down”. According to Washington State law, as with most of the United States, there is no legally recognized standing for the owners of dubiously licensed emotional support animals. “These documents do not convey any rights under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the animal is a service animal,” said the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice in its answers to frequently asked questions about the act." Yet business owners and instances of public space where pets are not allowed, find themselves in double-bind, as the ADA also specifically prohibits cities, merchants and others from requiring proof that a animal is a service animal. It allows, in fact, only two questions: "Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?" And: "What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?" Painting credit: Cassius Coolidge