This month, join Boris, Emily, and Dori as we talk about the similarities and differences between emotional support and service animals as well as the confusion surrounding the laws about the two.
Boris: It’s been 10,539 days since the Americans with Disability Act has passed and you are parked in the Access Aisle.
B: Good morning, and welcome to the as my first name is Boris and my last name is hard to say, this month we’re gonna be talking about service animals, but before we get to the interview, I’d like to set the scene a little bit, with a quick history lesson. The month was June and the year was 1928, the world was in recovery from the end of the First World War, and still 90 years away from the release of Drake’s fifth studio album. Nashville born, Morris Frank, and his dog Buddy stood on West Street in New York City surrounded by wide-eyed reporters with all eyes fixed on them, they watched in awe as Morris and Buddy stepped into the roadway and made it all the way across the street with not a single misstep: setting the news world on fire with the story of the 20-year-old blind man from Tennessee who regained his independence with the service of a dog. Morris and Buddy would go on to be the founders of the first, and now oldest, guide dog school in the United States: “The Seeing Eye.” Now with that out of the way, let’s introduce our guests today.
Emily: Hi there, my name’s Emily Beasley, I am the Youth Leadership Coordinator here at Able, South Carolina, and my dog’s name is Tucker.
Dori: Good morning. My name is Dori Tempio and I am the Director of Community Outreach & Consumer Rights for Able South Carolina. And my service dog is Shack.
B: Okay, Emily how did you decide or come to the decision that you needed Tucker.
E: Yeah, so, Tucker is an emotional support animal, which means he’s not a service animal, and the rights are a little bit different. But I needed more support at home than I did out in public, and so I decided to get Tucker when I… My depression got really bad and my anxiety got really bad. And so we looked around and went to a breeder who had several other dogs these as service animals and the ESAs and so we went with her and I picked him up.
D: I’ve had four service dogs total and the all four of my service dogs have come from accredited organizations, under Assistance Dogs International. And I spent a lot of time doing research from when I lived in Maryland, and then I moved to South Carolina.
It was essential to me that if I was going to get a service dog, I wanted to make sure it was a viable service dog from an organization that had experience working with service animals, and for me, I started to notice that doing the typical everyday things like getting dressed putting my coat on, trying to pick things up from the floor, trying to transfer from my wheelchair to other surfaces (like chairs, bathrooms, etcetera) and really thinking about where I was expending energy. I was expanding energy. It would take me two hours; I would go to work two hours early to take off my coat and that was not energy I needed to expand. If you know me, I’m a very active person, I like to be in the community, I like to work, I like to volunteer and in order to do that, I knew I needed something that would provide me assistance to do that but I wanted it to be in such a way that I wasn’t having to be reliant on people but still in a way that demonstrated to others that all of us can use different accommodations to achieve the goals that we want to.
B: And, Emily, how is that similar or different to what you went through?
E: Yeah, so it’s a little different. So with emotional support animals, they do not have to be professionally trained, they don’t have the same public access as service animals. So, like I said, I can’t take Tucker into public with me but um I did do a lot of research and I did get him trained partially before he started acting as my emotional support animal yeah.
B: Do you feel like it’s kind of safe to say that people look at emotional support animals in a more negative light, than conventional “service animals?”
E: Oh yeah, I most definitely… I think it has to do with people faking their emotional support animals and using the law to get the pet fee waved or to fly with their animal, or things like that. Whereas, I know for me, if I were to try to fly with Tucker that would honestly probably be more stressful than helpful for me, so I would never even think about taking Tucker on a plane with me. The only part of the law really that I take use of is that he’s allowed to live with me and I don’t have to pay a pet fee, because he’s not technically a pet, he is an emotional support animal.
B: And that’s under the Fair Housing Act right?
B: Okay, okay, well, Dori have you ever encountered somebody that that’s tried to have a fake servic