There has been a worrying increase in fake emotional support animals which has prompted many establishments to take drastic steps.
Okay, let's address the emotional support elephant in the room, shall we? While the idea of emotional support animals stemmed from a good place, it is no secret that many pet owners have been taking advantage of the system to get their animal pals into places they wouldn't have been let into otherwise. This increase in fake EMAs has gotten so out of hand that a restaurant made the decision to take things into their own hands and set the record straight. The establishment put up a sign clearly pointing out the distinction between a service animal and an emotional support animal and clarifying their position on the same.
idk how many times i gotta tell yall .... EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL !!! smh its all fake, any1 and any dog can get it & then landlords cant tell you shit https://t.co/dAT5yvozQt— 〽️ACE H$$D (@twiterlessmacie) January 14, 2019
The restaurant posted a notice on their door that says, "No dogs are allowed in the restaurant. If you are bringing in your service animal be aware of the following: A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. According to the law, we may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Expect us to ask."
having anxiety about asking for an emotional support animal letter even though i have an anxiety disorder because all the people who fake it ruined ESAs for people who need them is probably proof enough that i should get an ESA so i can chill out for just like ~maybe~ ten seconds— madi alexander (@MadiLAlexander) August 29, 2019
The notice continues, "The Americans with Disabilities Act cites that emotional support dogs or animals do not have the training to do specific tasks in assisting a person with a disability or impairment, unlike service animals. Hence the pets may not be allowed to accompany their owners in public places i.e., restaurants, stores, hotels. In short, please don't abuse law in place to help people with disabilities." A report by The Guardian sheds more light on the worrying rise in fake emotional support animals, pointing out that this takes a toll on those with genuine needs.
According to the publication, a pet can be granted the "emotional support animal" tag if the owner manages to obtain a therapist's letter stating that the animal contributes to their psychological well-being. However, people have found ways to circumvent this particular requirement with the help of "ESA mills" that provide quick and dubious disability appraisals from clinicians over the phone or through something as simple as a web survey. In order to make the fake emotional support animal look more authentic and officials, these for-profit websites also sell vests and tags for the pets, although assistance animal owners aren't legally required to own such paraphernalia.
#Disney Life Hack - Disney Tickets can be EXPENSIVE!!! Save money by registering your kids as "Emotional Support Animals". Disney must let them in for free. They will just a proper vest - https://t.co/MMyXWygnMJ— Keith Myers ♛ (@KeithIMyers) October 18, 2019
Unfortunately, it is hard to know for sure whether the animal accompanying a person is a service animal or an emotional service pet unless you ask the owner. Even then, legally one can only ask the individual the questions listed in the restaurant's notice. However, these questions don't necessarily stop people from lying, a concern pointed out by 33-year-old Ryan Honick, an advocate for the non-profit group Canine Companions for Independence. "The majority of folks who slap a vest on their pet have already crossed that line. The easiest giveaway is behavior. A trained service animal is going to behave unobtrusively and professionally. If those things aren’t happening, odds are high the animal is fraudulent," he said.
#stressmanagement— T L Moon (@itsTLMoon) October 18, 2019
Them: You should look into getting an emotional support
Me: I don't need a permit. pic.twitter.com/EyyWsp3lak
While some might argue that not every so-called emotional service animal is a threat to those around them, according to a report by The Washington Post, when Delta tightened its rules around emotional-support and service animals earlier this year, the airline cited an 84 percent spike in reported animal incidents since 2016 "including urination/defecation and biting." Recognizing the need for stricter laws, over two dozen state legislatures have enacted new laws to crack down on such fraud. Can you blame the restaurant for putting up that sign?
The Feds failed to deal with the fake emotional support animal industry, so Delta is taking action on their own. https://t.co/jxjpiM4xdg— Hal Herzog (@herzoghal) January 23, 2018