“Please Don’t Pet Me I’m Working.”
The article was “Creature Comforts” by Rebecca Skloot. It is a perfect storm of Political Correctness colliding with Common Sense and the Department of Justice. It’s a well intentioned article, but each paragraph seemed more like a comedy sketch for Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler or maybe Lucille Ball.
I’m certainly not making fun of disabled people, mentioned or the amazing work of traditional “Service Animals”, like Seeing Eye Dogs. But it’s gotten slightly crazy now that there are guide miniature horses, monkeys, parrots and even a duck – no not the one from Afflack!
Edie has nothing against service dogs “I would never say to a blind person, ‘Run out and get yourself a guide horse,’ because there are definite limitations.” They eat far more often than dogs, and go to the bathroom about every two or three hours. (Yes, Panda is house-trained.) Plus, they can’t curl up in small places, which makes going to the movies or riding in airplanes a challenge. (When miniature horses fly, they stand in first class or a bulkhead because they don’t fit in standard coach.)
The world of service animals has gotten out of control: first it was guide dogs for the blind; now it’s monkeys for quadriplegia and agoraphobia, guide miniature horses, a goat for muscular dystrophy, a parrot for psychosis and any number of animals for anxiety, including cats, ferrets, pigs, at least one iguana and a duck. They’re all showing up in stores and in restaurants, which is perfectly legal because the Americans With Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) requires that service animals be allowed wherever their owners want to go.
This Noah’s Ark of service animals has many businesses, landlords and cities saying no because of health and safety concerns. Of course this has resulted in several legal challenges from animal owners with lawsuits, as well as complaints to the Department of Justice.
Here is another bizarre example. A man in St. Louis who uses an “assistance parrot”, to help control his psychotic tendencies. Jim Eggers, claims he has a “bipolar disorder with psychotic tendencies”.
In describing his condition, Eggers says it’s like when the Incredible Hulk changes from man to monster. His vision blurs, his body tingles and he can barely hear. When he gets upset, [his parrot] talks him down, saying: “It’s O.K., Jim. Calm down, Jim. You’re all right, Jim. I’m here, Jim.”
I think Jim Carrey could possibly use this as material in his next film.
The D.O.J. proposed limiting service animals to a “dog or other common domestic animal,” specifically excluding “wild animals (including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including any breed of horse, miniature horse, pony, pig or goat), ferrets, amphibians and rodents.”
Then there is “Richard”, a 25-pound bonnet macaque monkey belonging to Debby Rose of Springfield, Mo., who has agoraphobia and severe anxiety disorder with debilitating panic attacks
Rose was wearing brown pants and a brown-and-gold-patterned shirt. Richard was wearing a brown long-sleeved polo over a white T-shirt with jeans and a tan vest that said “Please Don’t Pet Me I’m Working.” If Rose pointed at a sweater or purse she liked, or a pair of shoes, his hand darted out to touch them. As we passed a pair of tan, fuzzy winter boots that Rose particularly liked, Richard leaned out of the cart and quickly licked one on its toe. Rose can even drive her car, but only if her monkey is with her.
In order for her macaque monkey to be safe enough to work in the community, Richard had his canine teeth removed, his tail and was neutered. Where’s PETA in all this?
In September 2006, the Springfield Department of Health informed restaurants that her monkey was a health risk to the general public because she would take him in food buffet areas and he would touch the silverware while sitting in a highchair.
Imagine going to your favorite Starbucks and seeing a disabled person in line with their miniature horse or at the grocery store while their monkey picks out your favorite vegetables. Okay, perhaps not, but I’ll expect to see it in the next Adam Sandler film.
Photo credit: Jeff Riedel for The New York Times
Posted: 2145PT 01/10/09