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Our state has been wrestling with the matter of service animals versus emotional support animals versus pets. I find it somewhat funny in how it demonstrates the limits of the law, how ineffective rules and regulations can be when it comes to solving social problems. Also, there’s a five hundred-dollar fine if you get this wrong.

My state happens to be one of those that is always really excited about the opportunity to legislate absolutely everything. How do we fix stuff? There oughta be law!

Personally I think there oughta be a society run by grown ups and ruled by common sense, but obviously I am hugely outnumbered………

So for a bit of background, we’re very pet friendly here, people like to take their pets into stores, restaurants, and public events with them. We also accommodate service animals. Heck, we’ll even accommodate furries, people who perceive themselves as animals, people who self identify as furry critters, but enough about that.

Those two attitudes created conflict, because if a blind guy can have his service dog in the grocery store, than I should have the right to have Fluffy shop with me too. He’s my emotional support dog. Also, miniature horses sometimes. No joke, some people have service ponies.

If you want my opinion, which I’m sure you do not, valid service animals should be allowed everywhere and whiny people who think this is unfair because disabled people are getting away with something they aren’t, need to simply slap themselves and shut up.

I love animals, service animals, emotional support animals, and pets. One dog in a restaurant is fine, everybody wanting to bring their dog in and we are now all just eating in a barn.  There really are health and safety concerns. They can trip elderly people, knock over small kids, there are dog fights, and most of them don’t use the restroom and wash their paws.

This is one of those “learning to live in community and handling people conflict” things. My state is absolutely horrendous at it. Unreal. Total comedic fodder. Someone suffers from multiple chemical sensitivities, we just need to ban perfume and deodorant for everyone. Common sense has left the building and “weighing the needs of the one against the needs of the many,” isn’t even in our vocabulary anymore. It is all about individual rights, unfairness, mandated equality, and how somebody might be getting something we aren’t. Wahh, it’s not fair….

So business owners often get caught in the crossfire. Let a service animal in, but not an emotional support animal and you’ve just discriminated against people who have anxiety. Also, undocumented service animals are people, too! Err, animals. Whatever. Regardless, no animal should ever have to feel undocumented, so mandated registration is out.

We have now passed a law and fixed the whole problem. Or perhaps not. It’s a very complex and convoluted law. You aren’t actually allowed to ask if someone is disabled and their dog is a service animal. There is a five hundred-dollar fine for misrepresenting Fluffy, but actually your pet need not be formally registered, so whether or not he is an actual  service dog is really just a matter of subjective opinion. Also a subjective matter of opinion, whether or not you actually suffer from a genuine emotional need and really should be accompanied by an emotional support animal everywhere you go.

Some people really do have things like PTSD and can greatly benefit from having a dog nearby that is sensitive to their needs. Some people simply don’t want to be separated from their pets as they go about their daily lives. There really are different degrees of “need” here.

This is simply one of many epic fails to grasp the truth around “weighing the needs of the one against the needs of the many,”  how all things cannot be equal always, and how silly individual subjectivity is when we allow it to define everything. Also “learning to live in community and handling people conflict” is so important. We simply cannot have a compassionate and functioning society if people’s individual rights soon begin to trump all common sense.

There are some handy dandy charts and Venn diagrams to help business owners and “staffers” sort it all out. Here is one below, clear as mud. Personally, I think those “staffers” who work in the service industry with the general public, should all be given emotional support honey badgers so that when people get on our nerves, we can enforce our boundaries and create a more pleasant safespace for ourselves……

 

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