I was talking with a family practice physician a couple of weeks ago. She asked what I did for a living and we started to discuss various issues that involve both our professional lives.  Want to know where we intersect?  Service/assistance animals.  She is the person asked to medically verify more and more requests from individuals seeking a service or companion animal.  And while some requests are absolutely legitimate (and she is pleased to sign off on those requests), she told me more and more requests come to her desk that are highly questionable.  She has now started to push back because it is clear to her (as a physician) that some of these requests are not from individuals who are disabled.

While this blog covers the Fair Housing Act (FHA), our FHA work parallels (at times) the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Air Carrier Access Act. These laws, in part, provide that businesses (such as housing providers, restaurants, and airlines) cannot discriminate against individuals with disabilities and that we are to make reasonable accommodations when needed.  Sounds fair enough.  While dogs are the most common service or assistance animal, the law recognizes other types of animals can be so classified.  Which leads me to an article I saw in the newspaper last week.  It appears a passenger on a recent Delta flight had a live turkey (as in Thanksgiving) as an emotional support animal sitting in a seat in the cabin during the flight (and in a wheelchair in the airport).  A turkey?  You just cannot make this stuff up.

My point here is not to cast doubt on anyone with a recognized disability and who has a legitimate need for a service or companion animal. Indeed, my clients welcome those individuals (and their animals).  What I see (and what my physician friend sees) is individuals who are not disabled attempting to use various laws to avoid paying fees or other charges.  Which is simply wrong and does a disservice to those with real needs. I will get off my soapbox now.

Just a Thought.