Friday, November 14, 2008

Over at the Well blog....

You know I like all the Service Animal stuff the New York Times writes about. In fact, the Emotional Support Duck started off our duck obsession here at Shrink Rap.

From the NYTimes Well blog, Dogs and Autism:

A legal battle in New York City highlights the healing power of dogs for children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

Manhattan federal prosecutors have accused the owners of an Upper East Side residence of discriminating against 11-year-old Aaron S by preventing him from having a dog, The New York Daily News reports.
The report goes on to explain:

According to the newspaper, a lawsuit claims the building owners violated the Fair Housing Act by imposing unreasonable demands on Aaron’s parents before allowing a dog. Among the restrictions reportedly imposed by the building: the dog couldn’t be left alone for more than two hours, it would have to be taken in and out of the building on a service elevator, monitoring of dog walkers who might take it for a stroll, and $1 million in liability insurance for any injury or property damage caused by the dog. A company-hired doctor reportedly agreed the dog was medically necessary.

Oh, I'll let you all do the commenting.

my pet!

NOTE from Clink: Now the duck works.


Rach said...

I tried to click on clink's support duck but I couldn't play with it when I clicked on it... Not such a supportive support duck, that one.

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty reasonable for the building owners to insist on restrictions when they've already made an exception to their rules for this family. Some of the restrictions seem a bit silly (except the one about the dog not being left alone for more than two hours), but I think it's also a bit silly for two very well off parents to get an apartment in a building where the rule is "no dogs" and then insist the rule is changed for their son, because of course _he_ is special and different, like all middle-class kids. I assume that the ADA is like the UK's DDA, requiring reasonable adjustments be made for disabled people. This rich, litigious couple are I think taking the mick just a little teeny bit. How did they manage to find a doctor who would say that a dog is "medically necessary" for an Aspergic kid? The "reasonable adjustment" rule might be appropriately used by somebody who required an assistance dog, but I'm not convinced a companion dog for a LD/DD kid is in the same league. None of the Aspergic people I've ever met have suffered noticeably for not having a dog!

Anonymous said...

The duck did not work for me either. The image just opened in another window. I have high speed internet.

Laws need to be enacted all over to allow ALL renters and owners with shared common areas to have pets with minimal restrictions or rules. San Francisco SPCA was very successful in getting this changed in San Francisco.

For many people, pets are family, and it is time government recognized that.

Maybe once Obama has his hypoallergenic mutt he'll be motivated to shake up animal legislation.

Anonymous said...

First off Service dogs whether be guides, hearing, or psychiatric are not pets. Autism falls under psychiatric which are trained for various tasks. One important tasks that these dogs do is to guide away from dangerous situations such as traffic.

This is just another way of trying to get around the discrimination laws under the Fair Housing Act which states service animals, service animals in training as well as emotional support animals in which an Autism dog is not. They are Service Dogs.

These demands that the co-op are demanding are unreasonable.

1. Service Dogs has to be compatable for the individual. This means one cannot have a 10 pound or less service dog if they have tasks like guiding or counter-balancing in which Autism Service Dogs are trained to do.

2. Muzzling a Service dog first defeats the purpose of having a service dog. Second it ruins the dogs abilities to do the tasks at hand.

3. Service dogs are evaluated to make sure they have the right temperment. Therefore no barking excessively. Barking on occasion for calling help is indeed reasonable for service dogs to do to get somebodies attention. Again this is only in extreme for Help!!!!

The big problem is that the general public as well as many business people do not comprehend Autism. Many in todays society still thinks it's just bad behaviour due to not being disiplined. This is a myth not factual. As Autism is a disorder!

Again service dogs / animals are not pets and therefore under both the ADA (Americans Disability Act) and the FHA (Fair Housing Act) are exempt to No Pet Policy...

Esther said...

The support duck acted like it was in pain when I clicked on it. It made me laugh, but it also made me feel bad.

Esther said...

There is no right to have a pet -- family or not. If a privately owned apartment place wants to restrict them that's up to the company. However, as this is a different situation (i.e. service animal) the family should get to have their dog. I mean, what would the apartment place do if it was a seeing eye dog?

Anonymous said...

"I mean, what would the apartment place do if it was a seeing eye dog?"

They would probably try another tactic. As I have a combinational service dog and use to live in this one apartment complex for several years. Then another individual moved in at the other end whom also had a service dog.

What they decided to try to do with new policies was to get me to pay a "pet fee". Service dogs are exempt from fees. However how they tried it was to put me up against the other individual and visa versa.

Being we were both extreme advacates and knowledgable we didn't fall for that trap. Unfortunately many do. In a matter of fact I seeked out the lady to make sure she wouldn't pay.

We both said the same thing to the management well if the other team is paying you will have to pay back all that money because it's illegal. Do read the FHA you too could be knowledgable. This put the management down big time.

They also gotten a call from local Fair Housing to clarify what the laws are.

Of course management wasn't pleased and they try their best to get under our skin as it were.

So I would say that this place the co op would try the same thing as they already are doing it before they get a service dog.

Anonymous said...

I have a pro-animal bias. Of course, service animals should not be restricted IN ANY WAY. In addition, urban rental properties ought to be required to rent to pet owners. How else will people own pets? It's good for the animals, good for the pet-owning people, good for the community. Pet damage and pet cleanup should fall to the pet owner. People should have the freedom to own pets. Property owners ought not control pet ownership in this country. (I admit I am biased and acknowledge my PETA membership, membership in the SF SPCA, OAKLAND SPCA, etc., & Nor-Cal Golden Retriever Rescue.) I do not understand the anti-pet comments here. Should people who can not afford a $500,000 condominium in San Francisco be denied pet ownership? I do not think so.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen any anti-pet comments on here; where did that come from? I think some people might feel differently about requirements put on landlords to allow certain things if they had experience of renting out a property.

Having said that, it's obviously necessary to ensure landlords don't discriminate against disabled people, and that they allow necessary assistance animals. Guide dogs for the blind are well established; assistance dogs for people with other sensory impairments, physically disabled people, etc., are becoming more widespread, but for Asperger's syndrome I feel it's stretching it a bit. Nearly everyone likes the company of some animal or another, and a lot of people get a bit lonely and feel better for having a dog to talk to, especially when they're having difficulty talking to humans, or can't.

Asperger's syndrome may be very debilitating, depending on the person, but it's different from (Kanner) autism - I wish people would stop conflating them.

Isn't it possible that the couple in the article may be using their money to buy off the doctor so he's willing to say that a person with Asperger's needs a dog more than any other kid - in fact, that it's medically necessary? Not forgetting of course that well-off middle-class parents have been known to try and give their kids a head-start by pushing for a diagnosis so that their kid is given extra help.

I'm not saying that's necessarily true in this case, at all, but it does happen sometimes, which is probably one reason why this housing corporation didn't immediately agree to let the kid have a dog. It doesn't sound from the article like he's had a dog before, and he seems to have survived so far and done pretty well. I really fail to see what a dog can do for a kid with Asperger's syndrome that it can't do for a normal kid.

I wonder what would happen if the kid wanted/needed an assistance pony. Would the housing corp be required to find land for it? :-)

(Oh, and I do have an interest in this subject - my brother is Aspergic)

Unknown said...

Nadilfan, I do have to ask, where are you getting the information that these parents are well-off. I know you're assuming that because they live in an UES co-op, that means they're rolling in it, but believe me, that isn't necessarily the case. Also, why does their bank balance have any place here? If they were a working class family in Queens, would that make a difference to you?

I'm also confused at the oxymoronic term "well-off middle class" but that's neither here nor there.

You also make the assumption that you, who have never met this child, have never met his parents, have never met the doctor, know the best course of action for his treatment and well-being. You seem to think that because you have experience with one person with Asberger's, you know what's best for all. You don't. Now if you were a psychiatrist and had met with the kid and his parents and his doctor, and then you pronounced that he didn't need a dog, then you would have a valid opinion.

As is, be careful of passing judgment. Like this statement: "...he seems to have survived so far and done pretty well." How do you know? The article says nothing about this. Yes he's survived, obviously, but you don't know if he's doing well or horribly.

And as for comparing a dog to a pony, well, that's like conflating Asberger's with autism.

Anonymous said...

nardilfan I have to agree with a j here! Your comparison doesn't actually jive. Just because you have some experience with one person with Asberger's doesn't mean you know what somebody else with the same disability needs are. There are different degrees of the same disability. That is like saying all blind individuals should only go around with a white cane, when we know that the different needs for each gives them the right to choose what medical aid works for them whether be a white cane or a guide dog.

Also just because the boy didn't have a dog from the beginning doesn't mean that he is not in need of this dog now. People with disabilities needs changes. The degree of their disability could have gotten worse and chances are it did. Therefore a professional doctor prescribed a service dog that would help more then the other resources for this boy. However it may not be what another individual with the same disability would need. As people with disabilities are individuals with different needs.

As for a pony verses a dog, this analogy also doesn't wash either because that is not the issue here. Also the laws are quite different when it comes to different types of service animals (ie meaning excluding exotic and farm animals). It's clarified more in the new laws (ADAAA of 2009) in which the FHA does follow mostly and just add a couple more benefits as well. (ie emotional support animal, sd in training, in home companion trained animal).

Anonymous said...

I would guess that the kid's parents are quite well off from the phrase in the original article, "Aaron's parents - lawyer Maria Mostajo and hedge fund director Mark Schein" - I have no idea what a UES co-op is, so can't make any assumptions from it. You need to live in the real world - there are a lot of well- off people who will use their money to gain advantage, and you gain nothing by assuming that everyone is as honest as you are and would never cheat the system by using their money. You'll notice I did not say that was the case with this couple, just that the possibility existed, which would explain why the housing co-op was reluctant initially.

I wonder why the laws are different for different service animals? The pony thing was really just an attempt to bring some light-hearted perspective on to the situation; just a gentle reminder that not everyone has the ADA to fall back on (incidentally, the ADA's a weird thing for the US to have - chances are, there's a good wedge of those disabled people got that way because the US isn't civilised enough to have a proper socialised medical care system).

I'm afraid I didn't realise that it was not allowed to speculate about the circumstances, disability and honesty of someone who has decided to use the press to publicise their situation.

Obviously, saying that someone "seems" a certain way is tantamount to claiming that I personally know them and have the medical expertise to formulate a diagnosis and make a prescription.

AJ: there's nothing oxymoronic about the term "well-off middle class".

Heck, we've all got _something_ wrong with us. Service dogs for all!