Response to the ESA Post

Response to the ESA Post

Although I expected conversation to spring out from the post I published yesterday about flying with my large ESA dog (I mean I thought there were things to discuss… that’s why I wrote it!), I admit that there were both more total and more negative comments than I expected. Usually I try to respond to people one-off in my comments section, but felt this subject deserved a its own follow-up post.

After my experience flying, I felt pretty uneasy about the regulations that allow ESA animals to travel like they do. Back in the late 2000’s when I was training Eliot in agility, my trainer and her circle would tell everyone who needed to travel with dogs, “Just buy them a service vest and they’ll be fine! You don’t even need paperwork!” (I never did this). Even now, I have multiple friends who fly regularly with large ESA dogs (large and small). I have never been through the Austin airport and not seen at least one couple struggling to get an unruly French bulldog through security. Usually there are giant, golden retrievers bounding and dragging their airports down the corridors in gentle leaders.

And really, I can see why there’s so much nebulous area with ESA/service dogs. The idea that services dogs can only be bought from an institution for five figures is incorrect. I know someone who picked her’s out at the pound, hired a trainer to help train specific behaviors with that dog that block her from doing physical and mental harm to herself. It’s both an ESA and a dog that provides a service, and is legally registered in all accounts. The system, like many things, is murky.

All of this is not to say that I thought those people with the misbehaved dogs at the airport were making good choices, but that this was my background before flying. That experience made me think that I could do this with my much better trained dog, and be less of a disturbance than those I had seen before. It took actually going through the flying activity, for me to see that this was really a much bigger deal and had larger implications than I realized before.

I think there was an assumption made yesterday that because I admitted to feeling up to flying without an ESA, that I was perfectly mentally stable. And um, that’s not exactly the case. The reason I’m not in therapy right now, is that I had a terrible experience with a therapist before Tim died when I tried to get help dealing with his addiction. But the details of that, and my psychological/emotional struggles, are really for me and my brain alone.

I also want to clear up that the ESA papers for my dogs are 100% legal — they wouldn’t work for housing and travel otherwise. They’re not forged or drafted, but were produced from a combination of online & phone counseling sessions that led to my diagnosis of anxiety and post traumatic stress from finding Tim dead. Do I think this is toeing the line? Yes, I do, but it’s legal in every way as the system is currently written.

After the flight and after hearing comments from those with service dogs or more experience with them than I (comments I was grateful for and found educational), I did feel guilty about flying with my ESA dog. I do not feel guilty for using their papers for housing. I don’t have to explain to anyone who’s ever been deeply depressed about how having a living animal wake you up in the morning with a wagging tale can be the thing that pushes you out of bed to take care of their needs when you don’t care about your own. Pascale has slept next to me every night since Tim died, and those little things (plus many more) have kept me going these past years. Tell me that’s not medicine, and emotional support?

At the end of the day, you can choose to be disappointed with me or view the blog I wrote as an open point of discussion. That’s why I wrote it. I felt uneasy about the experience and the system that allowed it, and I was honest with my feelings. It would have been much easier to act like it never happened and sweep this entire thing under the rug, but I don’t think that’s productive to learning and growing.

I always try to be the kind of person that’s willing to share her experience, and is open to learning and change. Living that way keeps me from being disappointed in myself.

47 thoughts on “Response to the ESA Post

  1. I think the tone of your first blog on the subject made it seem like you were working the system, rather than that you have a legitimate need that you are working to take care of. That difference in tone can bring out the negativity. While you explained your needs well in the first post, it is an unfortunate truth that a large number of people fail to read for comprehension, and only heard where you stated you felt you were taking advantage of the system.

    My 2 cents. I think the ability to have our animals near us is an important issue, and the ins and outs of the legality and perception are important to investigate and know. (I also think everyone needs to get better at training their dogs… Myself included)

    1. Myself included too on needing to get better at training dogs! Tone is difficult to convey sometimes in blogs, especially when I don’t have as much time to devote to mine as I would like. I can accept responsibility that the tone should have been more carefully attended to in parts of my prior post.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I appreciate your honesty. What struck me is your reference to Tim’s death. You experienced trauma. It’s not for anyone of us to determine what support you do or don’t need. I’m glad you have them.

    1. This is why I perhaps didn’t explain as much in the first post about why I have/need/bring ESA dogs with me at times. I don’t like getting into the nitty gritty of my issues. I prefer to push through and do my best to function as if they don’t exist.

  3. I apologize in advance if my reply came off snarky, it wasn’t my intent. I don’t know the ins and outs of the system, but do recall hearing before that ESA dogs cannot wear Service Dog vests – they have to wear ESA vests. It might be worth looking into?

    I think like Austen said, your previous post about the subject was more geared towards working the system and only slightly touched on your own personal use. Which, is fine, but it kinda sets the tone for replies, I guess? I mean, you definitely don’t need to share your complete personal info about it, but it is something that is a “touchy subject” just because of the reasons the system gets abused. I appreciate you sharing with us your experiences and for giving us an idea of what it’s like – I have always wanted to get our smaller dog certified as a Therapy Dog with St Johns Ambulance.

    1. Yeah, I didn’t know about the Service vs ESA vest because I had been advised by ESA people to specifically get a service dog vest. Mine has removeable patches, so I will probably see if I can get an ESA patch to replace the ‘Service Dog’ part of the vest.

  4. I agree with L that the system does need to be reviewed. I will not ever say that animals do not help with emotional or mental issues. In my experience, whether or not the animal is trained to do so, they have an innate sense that allows them to pick up on things like that.

    While I don’t agree with the ESA system, you are by all accounts following the rules. I think that way your post was written made it seem like you were acknowledging that you had legitimate mental/emotional issues that were helped by having your dog with you, but also that you knew you were taking advantage of the system since you could fly without him.

    I also understand that he is a well trained dog and probably has much better manners than any of my dogs, but I don’t agree with taking a dog that is known to have aggression towards people and other dogs, regardless of being trained well, into what could be a stressful situation like an airport. It does appear that it worked out for you, but having your dog wear a service vest when he travels bothers me because I think of service dogs as being good with both other animals, as well as people. I could certainly be wrong on that, but with the knowledge I have of service dogs, that is how I feel.

    1. I think there is a (rightfully so) wide sweeping generalization with ‘aggression issues’ in dogs. Eliot has had these issues his entire life, and I’ve traveled with him on crowded busses and subway systems with no issues (not as an ESA dog, just as a dog dog). He’s been in crowds of people (and dogs) his entire life, and not had any aggression issues because I know what triggers him and I know how to control/avoid it. It worked out with him traveling because I know how to manage the dog, and I had enough previous experience with him to predict the behavior.

      Understand feeling that service dogs should have no aggressive issues though. That’s totally understandable.

      1. I completely understand that and I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I have three dogs, and while none of them are extremely well trained, they don’t have any type of aggression issues. My little dog that I was referring to is not aggressive by any means, but he is middle aged and kind of grouchy sometimes. I more meant that I wouldn’t even feel comfortable having him just out and about in the airport because I feel it would be stressful for him and he would act out. My parents have a dog with major fear/aggression issues that goes nowhere in public and for good reason.

        I had read on here (even in the original ESA post) that Eliot didn’t like people or other dogs. With never having met Eliot and only knowing what I read, I made the generalization that with his aggression issues, having him in crowded public places with both people and other dogs didn’t sound like a very good idea. I believe that he is well trained and used to being in those situations based on what you have said, but going off of what I had read previously, it sounded like a poor choice to have him in an airport and on a plane.

        1. I can see how someone gets that impression, especially with how I refer to Eliot (jokingly usually) by calling him an ass hole or a sociopath… something I’m used to doing with friends and naturally fell onto this blog (wrong choice on my part) out of habit. Truthfully, people who meet him and see him in public do *not* believe me when I say he has aggression problem, because I know how to set him up for success.

          1. Having the correct tone conveyed through written word is extremely difficult, particularly when I or someone else only know what is written on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, etc. With that said, Eliot is extremely lucky to have you as an owner and have you take the time so that he can be set up for success. So many dogs, including my parent’s dog that I mentioned earlier, have aggression issues that are not properly managed that make having the dog around miserable to anyone involved. Including my parents.

  5. My response to yesterday’s blog was strongly worded, but use of ESA designation to circumvent laws is something I feel strongly about. I know at least 3 people in real life that have openly admitted to obtaining ESA certification so that their pet can get around the rules intended to govern public space.

    Your statement in your last post that you decided to take Eliott with you because you didn’t find someone you were comfortable leaving him with, or an appropriate boarding situation left the impression (to me) that it was more a matter of convenience than an actual service need.

    I get it. Everyone loves their dogs. I include myself in that statement. And I get that having dogs is sometimes expensive and inconvenient. But I think that people who use the current system, *knowing* that they do not have real need, is not right.

    Just because I love my dog does not mean others want him in their personal space. And I respect that. I respect that there are many people out there with legitimate dog phobias and/or severe allergies. And I do not need to force my dog on the general public – because I do not have a *real* need. But there are people that do. And I also understand that, by acting responsibly and keeping myself accountable, I do not complicate an already challenging world for them.

    1. To be clear – I completely understand having an intense reaction to the subject of ESA animals. Even as someone who has one, I (continue to) admit it’s murky.

      I took Eliot with me on the flight because I have a deep rooted anxiety associated with leaving my animals without what my crazy brain interprets to be proper care. If I know they will be stressed out, I won’t leave the house/take the vacation/etc. It’s bad enough that I won’t actually enjoy my holiday time with family, because I constantly worry about the dog. Since Eliot is harder to find care for, my primary boarding options in Austin were already closed and I was denied by multiple Rover sitters… I took him with me to ease the worry and help me enjoy the holidays with my family.

      Maybe that’s convenience, maybe that’s anxiety. The line, like many things, is hard to distinguish.

      1. To be honest, my dog has severe separation anxiety when we travel. We can’t leave him at home, even with excellent home care. He has tried to eat his way out the front of our house to come find us – damage to drywall, door frame, bite marks to metal door knob. It was extreme.

        In order to find a solution, I had to find a boarding kennel that I felt would give him the level of care that I was comfortable with. We introduced him slowly over a period of time – spending 1/2 days at daycare, full days at day care, working up to 1-2 night stays.

        He will still stop eating and attempt to climb their chain link fence trying to come find us. I do spend most of my time away worrying about him, and not fully enjoying myself, knowing he is unhappy.

        Because of this, we travel very infrequently. We include the significant additional expense of boarding into any of our travel plans. At the end of the day, I accept this as part of my responsibility as a dog owner, to find what I feel are reasonable solutions for my dog’s care and well being. Life on life’s terms and all that.

  6. I’ts complicated. The issue with support dogs is that the support can be invisible. Not sure if I’m saying this cleaerly but my idea is that you felt like you could have done it without the dog because you were fine. But perhaps you were fine because of the dog and so actually needed him. If you weren’t fine even with the dog then I would question the need for him. This all makes sense in my head……

    1. It’s very complicated. I get what you’re saying, and I think part of the trickery with ESA animals in different situations is the only way to see if a person truly needs an animal or not is to crack open their head and examine it… which seems ill advised 🙂

  7. I found your experience quite fascinating and very thought provoking yesterday. I think if I was in your situation I would of done exactly what you did and had my dogs certified as ESA. As with anything there are people who blatantly abuse the rules and make people question why ESA dogs exist and feel negativity towards anyone who might be borderline using the ESA system. But I don’t feel like you did. I’m all for bending rules without breaking them and pushing limits if it doesn’t hurt anyone or anything in the process (aka be curtious and be kind. But don’t accept stupid at face value) I think we need to do that to figure out what works and what doesn’t. You were within the rules of ESA and your dog was well behaved on the trip. Maybe the rules need to be re-evaluated but then so do pet rules when renting. It’s such a tricky system to navigate who is wrong and who is right and I think there’s so much grey that you can’t make up enough rules without becoming a bit extreme and unfair. I really did appreciate reading about your experience with the whole system. Also I apparently need to start traveling to big cities bc it’s a new thing for me to hear about giant dogs galavanting through airports posing as ESA dogs!!!

  8. “it’s clear people (including me) are abusing the system.”

    I have with agree with Austen about the tone of your first post. It was off putting. And the photo of your dog in the service dog vest – to me at least – implies a level of training that, correct me if I’m wrong, Eliot does not have. Didn’t you post about a serious dog aggression incident between he and another of your dogs a few years ago? Again – apologies if I’m not accurate on that. Not sure how fair it was to Eliot or the flying public to experiment in that situation…

    1. My conclusion after flying with Eliot is that for me specifically, taking an ESA dog on a plane is taking advantage of the system. I am not negating that. I took him because (I explained in a comment above) that I have extreme anxiety about leaving the dogs behind if I don’t have reliable care setup for them. If the tone was off putting, and clearly it was for some, I take responsibility for that as a writer.

      And yes, Eliot can have aggression issues. Yes, they can be serious. But to explain to the minute detail the level of knowledge and training I have around those issues is honestly not even for a blog post on this subject. As I explained above responding to a comment, he’s been on multiple public transportation areas and crowds (not as an ESA dog) with no issue. I was not blindly throwing him into an airport without any idea how he’d behave.

      1. Definitely not accusing you of blindly throwing your dog into the airport situation – just pointing out that no one has control over all the variables with an animal who has a history of risky behavior. I had a sometimes dog-aggressive pit mix for 14 years. The dog aggression began after we were attacked by another dog in a public place. Despite tons of training and educating, I erred on the side of caution in where I took her, because I owed that to other people and animals when we were in public.

        Please don’t think I don’t empathize with your situation. I haven’t spent a single night away from my farm for over three years, because it is so hard to find #1 reliable, and #2 affordable care for my animals. But the upshot of that is I just don’t get to go.

  9. Hi Lauren! I’ve been quietly reading your blog for a while now after it was recommended on a friend’s blog page as an equestrian blog of interest. I’ve never commented before but feel now is the right time. I was (am) very excited to read about your re-dedication to the blog in one of your last posts on goals. I connect to your posts and find you have great courage to present your life to others, especially the parts about loss and moving on. That part of your life, the loss of your person, is something that people commenting rather harshly seem to be forgetting – I would never think it is my place to comment on your needs for emotional support as I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose someone so close. I guess I am writing this, just to say that, I hope the negativity on the ESA post doesn’t deter you from continuing your dedication to the blog and bringing us loyal readers future content. Personally, I can’t wait to read more and hear about your continued life adventures and horse adventures with Simon!

  10. Yeah!! What Double Bay said!
    The fact that you wrote about and questioned your experience demonstrates what a conscientious person you are.
    And sometimes it is hard to acknowledge in a meaningful way that we have been traumatized. Because it is our life and we have to just go on living it; sometimes that seems easier if we don’t admit the damage.
    You took Elliot because you needed to. It is not for anyone else to decide if you have been traumatized “enough” to warrant an ESA dog.
    Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time should have shown you more compassion.

    1. I don’t expect readers to hold back if they disagree with me just because my husband died, but I do think a lot of assumptions take place about a person’s mental health without often considering the entire situation. Like you said, trauma is hard to acknowledge or even identify at times.

      1. Here’s the thing: you were the one who said you didn’t need an ESA to fly and that the choice to bring him was motivated by a change of plans, not by need. No one assumed that; you said it in as many words. I would frankly be shocked if you *didn’t* have some mental health stuff going on, based on your experiences and self-descriptions. But no one hac to assume anything about your health or your level of need to draw the conclusion that you were misusing the system. We only had to read the words you wrote. This is a workshop, too.

        And sometimes all the discussion that needs to be had is “putting a non-service dog in a service dog vest and then shrugging it off as no big deal when he defecates inappropriately twice in public is not okay.” If you want to discuss, then discuss. But please take seriously what you did here and please do better in future.

        1. Completely disagree that blog comments are a workshop, but that’s an entirely different conversation.

          I guess all I will say in response is that the situation is far more complicated than what it’s been boiled down to, both in the words of my posts and in how those words have been perceived.

          1. Lauren, I didn’t think readers should hold back if they disagreed “because your husband died”. I expected they could read between the lines and realize the extreme anxiety you would have felt leaving Elliot behind that would have caused you to need an ESA. The only reason you didn’t really need him was because you took him. You spelled out your anxiety and how much you rely on Elliot since Tim died.
            Most of us feel anxiety about leaving our animals. I am certain that yours is an entirely different level.
            You were not wrong to take him.

  11. Well, I still stick with my comment. Yes, you had a traumatic event; however, you readily admit you need your dog because it’s too hard to get good care when you leave on vacation. Not the same thing as needing the dog to get through your day because you are so depressed. I have anxiety leaving my horse but I am not trying to take him on trips. I think the point of ESAs is to help people cope at all times and they need the dog to cope when they get to their destination….not just when it is inconvenient to leave them or because you don’t want to pay more at an apartment. Did you get the certification because you needed this animal to get through the day or because you needed to rent an apartment and didn’t want to pay more? Sounds like the latter.

    1. In regards to housing, without having an intimate knowledge of available housing options in my area, my finances, and my emotional/physiological struggles, there is really no way for you or anyone else to judge my reasons for having the certification on my dogs.

      1. People form opinions based on what you post. Additionally, we all make choices and you made the choice to move to an expensive area, correct? You didn’t get the certification for Austin? Regardless, best of luck in your healing.

  12. Glad to hear the clarification from you. The bottom line is that most of us only know your life through what you choose to share (and how we as readers interpret your words). Your past blogging has led me to believe that you are a responsible and thoughtful pet owner and while your original post definitely did disappoint me, I have to trust that you know your animals better than we do and would not put them in a situation that would set them up for failure.

    I am a dog mama (not a person who needs an ESA) and I feel like every time somebody accommodates my dog it’s a privilege. I hate to see ANYTHING happen that leaves a bad taste in the public’s mouth about animals being allowed places. I think it’s the responsibility of all pet owners (whether the ownership/presence of the animal is legally-protected or not) to make sure that when we bring our pet into a situation we are putting our best foot (and paw!) forward. Many, many people would prefer to not have animals allowed in certain places and I keep that in mind each time I step out into public with my dog–and conversely, I also cringe a bit when I see people doing things that might lead to resistance/restrictions against all pet owners.

    Sounds like this whole thing was a learning experience for you, and I am happy to see you taking some of the comments to heart while still maintaining your valid need for an ESA.

  13. You are not responsible for the guidelines and you obviously made efforts to behave responsibly within them, such as they are. Also, we all do things that other people can judge us for if they make it their mission. You don’t have to be perfect. Do you Boo.

  14. First I want to say how much I love your blog and I was super excited to see one of your goals this year is to post more. And I truly hope the backlash from yesterday does not deter you from continuing to blog.

    My comment yesterday was relatively harsh and while I stand by it, I should have qualified it. I very much disagree with what you did even if you did follow the rules – by your own admission you took Elliot because you could not find suitable accommodations for him. In my mind that means you stay home with him – that’s the crappy part of having pets. I’m also making some assumptions about why I disagree with your obtaining an ESA in the first place – I’m assuming you don’t take either dog with you to school so you can get through the day, I’m assuming you don’t take either dog with you when go out with friends, I’m assuming you didn’t take either dog with you to work when you were still in Austin. Maybe you did/do do these things and if so, my sincere apology. You pretty much admitted to gaming the system to make your life easier, not because your dogs truly fit the definition of an ESA animal. That’s not to say they don’t offer emotional support but I would argue that just about everyone with a pet they love would say their pet offered emotional support.

    I have no idea what it must have been like after Tim died and therefore cannot judge or have an opinion on what role your dogs played in getting (and still getting) you through it. I am glad they have been very obviously a bright spot in a very dark and sad time for you.

    All the best to you Lauren – you have truly been an inspiration to me. And while I may disagree with what you did, it in no way diminishes how awesome I think you are.

  15. I really appreciate you sharing this experience. I don’t agree with why you flew with your dog, based on the information you provided. But I do like that at least you followed the current rules, prepared for it, reflected on how it went, and will make future decisions with that knowledge. It would be unfair to judge you. I do agree some people need this service. And, I did consider it for a particular situation – and had my personal therapist’s approval but decided it was something I could do myself, even though my dog during the trial run did make me feel incredibly secure. I do tend to roll at my eyes many ESA dogs because I’m aware that there is abuse. I wish there was a way to clarify the system for very specific situations, needs, training (much like Canine Good Citizen), etc. Thanks again for your posts.

  16. Here’s my question.
    Who did you hurt by taking Eliot on the plane with you? Now, had he bit someone, or been a nuisance, or injured someone, we could have a different conversation. But he didn’t. You didn’t prevent anyone else from being able to bring their dog on the plane because there are only so many dogs allowed. You literally impacted no one else’s lives with this decision, and yet we all really really want to weigh in on it.
    People are 100% allowed to weigh in on this, since you made it public, and its clearly a hot button topic.
    But I go back to what L said- the system needs to be looked into. If you want to “take advantage” of a system that’s in place so you can fly with your dog, and in the process not hurt a person in doing so, eh, what’s it to me?
    Maybe I should be angrier. Maybe I should question your ethics more. But in this day and age I feel like we have way bigger problems to worry about. It sounds like you’re not going to continue doing this. You did it, you let us know and I actually found it honest and fascinating for which I really appreciate.
    I do hope the system gets looked into, but I also wish a system of being able to fly with our pets would get looked into, so people didn’t have to abuse this one. I appreciate people’s comments on the post, I think its a hot topic and thanks for bringing it to the table.

  17. This is very much a hot topic, and we were just talking at work this past weekend about how much this system gets abused while we were handling a completely unmanageable, supposedly ESA dog that was aggressive towards both other dogs and people.

    I originally wasn’t going to comment but both of these posts struck a major chord with me. I’m sorry for beating a dead horse with a stick here, but I kind of really, really want to send these two posts to my friends in Puerto Rico who are choosing to stay on the island in less-than ideal circumstances because they are unable to bring their 20 lb+ dogs on planes with them in order to move to the mainland. So many people have chosen to *abandon* their dogs in shelters or on the streets because they did not have the option of bringing their pets with them. My uncle is currently taking care of his in-laws’ three Labradors because they could not go with their owners to Florida. Like you, no one wants to send their large dogs as cargo in planes…and that has not been an option either for Puerto Ricans leaving the island. Getting their dogs certified as ESA would be an easy way to get them off the island, because losing everything you own and having your homeland turned into a third world country by a major hurricane certainly counts as trauma.

    I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek because I honestly would not encourage other people to do this precisely because the system is so abused, an abuse that it is going to eventually affect the people that truly need their service dogs at their sides 24/7…but at the same time it leaves my heart hurting for every person that had to leave their dogs behind when they left my island after Maria, who might have legit qualified for this option and didn’t know it was a possibility.

  18. Hi Lauren,
    I’m not much of a commenter, but for what it’s worth I didn’t think there was anything wrong with your previous post. I fly a lot, and I don’t see the airports overrun with service dogs. As I said yesterday there should be an option to buy a seat for one dog per plane. It sounds to like you made the best decision for you and your dog and complied with the rules. I don’t see a problem. Especially with all the real problems that need to be dealt with! Love your blog, very nice writing!!

    1. The people who suffer because others can’t follow the law do speak up because it’s the only way to get people to understand the actual laws. But please, tell me more about how much of ass those of us who are disabled and properly follow the laws (instead of being ignorant) truly are. OMG we are law-abiding monsters who belong to a legally-protected group because healthy people judge us constantly and try and invalidate our civil rights.

      Seriously? Get some perspective please.

  19. ESA’s don’t wear “service dog” vests. One should never be placed on a dog that IS NOT A SERVICE DOG. Especially when that dog has problems with “hating” people. To fly or live with an ESA you need a letter from your current treatment provider and you admitted you’re not under treatment.

    You abused the system because you didn’t want to leave your deaf dog behind. And those of use who LEGALLY manage our ESA’s and SD’s saw right through your crap post.

    Law for ESA’s on flights is the ACAA:

    But your dog was marked as a SD when it is not a SD. That’s wrong and negatively impacts legitimate handlers of SD-appropriate dogs. SD’s are not supposed to be stressed while working and this includes the dog being comfortable in public around strangers. So yes, the SD community is pretty upset. We are tired of people abusing laws meant to protect the disabled.


    1. Kimber, you are so right and I am glad you posted. For anyone to think that this type of fraud hurts no one is completely ignorant to what is happening within the disabled community and their loss of access rights they fight so hard to keep.

  20. I am probably poking the comment bear here, but I thought you were being matter-of-fact about the system and Eliot’s disposition in the last post to be humorous while revealing your thoughts on the experience. Obviously, I am not a dog owner and not dependent upon an ESA, so I did not have an emotional response to your post. I did, however, lose an immediate family member suddenly, about 14 years ago, the effects of which are immeasurable and everlasting. The bottom line here is that you qualify to have an ESA. Just because you do not have your dog by your side 24/7 doesn’t lessen your unique needs or the severity of your emotional trauma and neither does the lack of kennel options. I saw that as a coincidence, about which you were being honest. It sounds like Eliot is a very well trained dog, historically an excellent traveler, and you are a vigilant dog owner.

    After perusing the comments, my conclusion is that dog-people are nuts. Not bad, but probably crazy. There, I just insulted everyone, including Lauren. Don’t feel too badly. It takes one to know one. Afterall, I am a horse-person.

    Love your blog!

  21. I read it and have no issue with esa dogs…or ur reasons.. They are your own and not ours to judge. Here in the UK it does not exist and therefore people just don’t access spaces at all as a result.. Its so sad. That aside. I was gobsmacked to hear a dog who had physically harmed another dog out of control was deemed a certificate of service dog esa dog. That in my view is bloody dangerous and wrong on so many levels as its a danger to the public and had you stood up and told them her history you know most would have said they didn’t feel comfortable with her there! In fact they put their trust in you to keep them safe and that’s the crap bit of it. I would refuse to fly with a dog onboard with those issues! He didn’t just mark..he mauled. And rage syndrome is unpredictable. God there are small children on air flights.. Close proximity and a lead is no guarantee. I assume he had to be muzzled? I cant believe the vet records would not be checked? Your decisions are yours alone.. And many of us differ in opinion and that’s how it should be… Thing is.. I’m a super chilled dog owner.. I muzzle my unpredictable girl though she has never harmed just run up growling.. Just so people don’t think the worst.. But she does need to run so I make sure I take her places to do so..though people comment I should never let her off. Here in the UK we don’t really have leash rules in many places at all. I take her to socialise with muzzle on and in wide spaces so she has the freedom to avoid what makes her uncomfortable. I’m just in shock you would take her in crowded spots knowing her bite history.. Maybe I’m way off and u do muzzle her properly. One snap and it could maul a close by child passing.. Even in a pram.. I assume from your trips that you are nit disabled in driving.. Was it an essential trip you couldnt do other ways? Maybe that’s a better plan? Wouldn’t your other dog be much more suitable to be in enclosed public spaces Than her? X its deceiving the public unless you muzzle her really. In the UK if your dog has any bite history or even aggressive behaviour without bites your ineligible for insurance let alone getting certified.. That’s why we mostly have dogs raised for that purpose so rigorous behaviour checks are done to make sure the dogs are super safe in public.. Imagine an accident.. People would start complaining and refusing their custom to these spaces.. Businesses would get annoyed at losing money and before you know it the whole thing could be scrapped.destroying lots of lives in the dogs would start to be banned again. Its a privaledge not a right that could easily be removed if accidents happen due to esa dogs with bite histories being allowed.. Were so lucky here not to have leash laws and we know it.. Were constantly bombarded by protesters with kids so much so the despite having no open land that isnt owned or dog parks.. The existing parks are banning dogs at all.. Its a constant battle we are slowly losing. Everytime a bite happens its splashed as a sensation over the news which rallies the cause of leash laws.. So the more irresponsible the quicker our privileges will be removed.. Its the same reason I spent tons redecorating my rental home.. So the landlord wont have such a bad view of pets in his property and pass that news on to others.. Social responsibility really .. vet records are checked and a behaviour test is done. We all make mistakes in life and god knows I’ve made tons. But a system that allows any bite history is unbelievable!!! That’s insane!! You’re doing what you can do and ur reasons are ur own.. But clearly laws don’t protect the public at all. Shocking. At a dog class near me we were told of a dogs aggression.. He was muzzled. And still someone complained which sucks.. That poor dog needed the help at the class.. And was made safe.. But I did feel the dog was stressed and that’s not a position id put my dog in..its unfair. They trust us to keep them safe ..not forcefully put them close to things that scare them. Dogs with issues need compassion and choices… Muzzling great but I always make sure she can exit anytime and isn’t tethered in that situation. Another problem is that had Elliot bitten surely the dog would have been euthanised.. That’s really risky for her.. I constantly worry about that with mine as here they don’t even have to bite they can intimidate and police can euthanise.. Xx keep both of u safe. Lifes too short to take risks that high . It would be a crying shame had something happened. And you would have lost the dog you so need x

  22. I’m personally upset but for different reasons.
    I am a service dog handler of the SD community. We already have dealt with people pretending that their pets are “ESA” or “Service Dogs” to fly for free just so they don’t have to pay the extra fee. I’ve had countless friends who have had their legitimate service dog attacked by a so called “ESA” or “service dog” at an airport. Because of people abusing this system, we now have to make a huge deal and pay a huge fee to get a health certificate so our medical equipment can fly with us. Do people with a wheelchair or a cane have to get their cane health checked before checking into the airport? No, just service dogs because of all the people who have abused this system and it’s discrimiating. I now have to go through this huge ordeal to take my medical equipment with me, what if there was a family emergency and I didn’t have time to get a health certificate because I didn’t USED ago have to until now. I have nothing wrong with ACTUAL ESA’s that have flown to provide someone with a mental disability comfort as that is their job. Otherwise? Leave your pet at home. It’s sad that it’s come to this.

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