Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Share Your Burden With a Beast

Emotional support animals (ESAs) can lighten the burden of mental illness and anyone in the U.S. who has a psychiatric disability (including children) is guaranteed the right to have such animals live with them in all but a very small percentage of dwellings by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Every U.S. apartment complex, condo, and co-op is included and the rights are not just for renters; owners' associations also must allow ESAs. One cannot be charged pet deposits or fees for ESAs. The best part of all is that this right is cheap and easy to exercise: millions of potential ESAs can be found in animals shelters across the nation, no special training is necessary, and no lawyer is necessary.
What's the difference between a pet and emotional support animal? Nothing except that the owner is a person with a pain or psychiatric disability and uses the animal for "emotional support," that is to say the animal helps them enjoy their life in the home and makes it easier to live with their disability. Six-week old kittens and puppies too young to be housebroken can be emotional support animals. Iguanas and bunnies can be emotional support animals. 
Can I take my ESA to places other than my housing where pets are not allowed? Generally speaking, no. There are some exceptions, e.g., for flights on airlines where you have a note from your doctor stating you are disabled and require the animal either on the flight or at your destination. There are psychiatric service dogs who can be trained to assist you and accompany you in public, but unlike ESAs they must be dogs and they are required to be specifically trained for public access and to assist you. They are wonderful too and those of us who use them often credit them with keeping us alive.
Where can I find out more about ESAs and psychiatric service dogs? Go to for more information. Note: everything on this site is free and there is no advertising. There is even a page

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Working at the Beach in Oregon

Maeve and I are really enjoying our time on the Oregon coast. We've been hanging out at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon, most of this week working and playing. For the first time Maeve is truly enjoying the beach. She's loving the freedom of playing fetch, running, and playing with other dogs. I'm loving the walks on the beach and watching the surf (and the surfers) while I finish up my handouts for our presentation next week and plan our trip down to southern California following the conference in Portland. My cat, Sibol, is enjoying my company in the van while I work and the respite from travelling so much. This is the perfect way to recover from a long cross-country trip and get ready for the conference. Thank you John McManamy for suggesting it!