The Americans with Disability Act theoretically applies to mental and physical disabilities. I say “theoretically” because it appears that lobbyists for people with physical disabilities believe that mental health issues aren’t real disabilities.
It started a couple of years ago with stories on network news about people who can’t seem to leave their dogs at home. Grocery stores and restaurant owners got fed up with bogus claims that a pet is a service animal. It resonated with the public.
People who train service animals took it to the bank. They seized the opportunity to increase their business by getting laws changed which excluded therapy animals from the definition of service animals. People with PTSD must now rely on piecemeal legislation which states that therapeutic companion animals are included in the definition of service animals. Service animals are inordinately expensive. The waiting list to get one is miles long.
Therapy animals are essential for the survival of people with PTSD. Most animals don’t need to be specially trained to provide this service and support. You go to the pound, adopt an animal. You rescue the animal, and it rescues you right back. It’s in the animal’s DNA. No special training required.
You can’t train any animal to love someone. Yet, it is this unconditional love that brings us back from the brink when a PTSD episode triggers suicidal ideations.
Michelle Millman at Seattle’s CBS affiliate KIRO got conned by Laura Lindstrand at Washington’s Human Rights Commission into doing another story about people who can’t seem to leave home without their pets. She had the audacity to blame it on people who falsely claim that their therapy animal is a service animal.
I was livid when I saw it. I accurately predicted that her reckless, irresponsible reporting would create havoc for someone like me who relies on my therapy animals when a PTSD episode triggers suicidal ideations. I knew that escorting bogus service/therapy animals to the doors of restaurants and grocery stores would escalate into further curtailment of therapy animals. Some shit was going to happen.
This morning I was advised by an officious bureaucrat at DSHS that my food stamps will be slashed by 75%. Why? My therapy animals which have been classified as service animals by DSHS for nearly 10 years haven’t been specially trained and certified. The woman maintained that she was following the law, but she was unable to cite statutory provisions to support her outrageous claim. Why? There aren’t any. My guess is that some bureaucrat at DSHS watched the ridiculous report on KIRO.
My head wants to explode that they are allowing the expenses for feeding Stellars jays and gardening, but they are refusing to allow the expense to feed my therapy animals which will be absolutely, positively essential in my ability to survive the night. Go figure.
Ironically, the guy who set this trainwreck in motion forwarded my medically necessary expenses for my animals to his colleagues who administer medical spenddowns. I have been told that their guidelines on service animals are far more stringent than they are for food stamps. They approved my expenses on February 23. Go figure.
Dealing with DSHS is far more risky than any trip to a casino. You never know what you are going to get.
I have read that you are allowed to train your own service dog but for it to qualify as a service animal, rather than a therapy animal not covered by ADA, the dog must be trained to perform a specific essential task that helps with the disability. That doesn’t make a lot of sense in the context of PTSD though some people find it painfully difficult to leave their home without the aid of their dog. Yes, the waiting list for a professionally trained service dog is prohibitive for some, as is the expense for dogs from some programs, but some of the trainers who run the programs will help you train your own dog for a smaller fee (I was told $150 for me to bring my own dog to their facility so that I can participate in her training.)
I think this is probably accurate and hope others are as fortunate as you were to find a trainer who will allow you to participate in the training as well as charge a drastically lower fee than is typical for a service animal. Bravo to you!
great work, thanks