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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 117381
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Just looking to prove to people who are oblivious that my

Customer Question

Just looking for information to prove to people who are oblivious that my full fledged service dog - whom I have been working with for 3 years now - is actually one ( a PSD ) so I can bring him into the VA where I am doing a voluntary treatment program.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
You do NOT have to prove your dog is a service dog other than by providing a letter to anyone who asks. If they refuse to honor the letters or continue to give you a hard time, this is a violation of the law and grounds for you to sue these individuals who are denying you access with your dog for violation of your Civil Rights and seek monetary damages. That is the only proof they can require you to provide, just a letter stating the dog is a service dog.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I provided them with TWO letters from my home VA hospital. Unfortunately, we are dealing with the VA here and it is another VA hospital that is giving me the problem. They are insisting he is an ESA - which by no means is he. An ESA cannot wake you from PTSD nightmares, bring you down from a panic attack, bring you back from a dissociative state, give you the personal space you need around you because you cannot have people close to you, help ground (and grounding is actually a PSD task) due to being agoraphobic and having anxiety attacks, and the manic phases of being bipolar etc. He is also; although I have never had a letter written for this; a MOBILITY-STABILITY Service dog for me as I have very weakened/unstable knees due to destroying them in the service, a myriad of problems with my spine and severe fibromyalgia ALL of which cause problems with my balance, coordination and stability when walking which he has helped alleviate by 95% for over three years now. They think they are "helping me by taking my "crutch" away and making me deal with these problems on my own. They are in fact causing irreparable harm by taking away the one thing that allows me as a disabled veteran to function as fully as I can with the disabilities I have that are NO FAULT of my own.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
To give you some more info: I have been going to my own VA hospital for years with Cody with no problems and no questions, he has been on 18 planes - does TSA like a champ, been invited back to restaurants because he behaves better than some of their two-legged customers..........I could go on and on. I wanted to go back into a program that I was in starting in September of 2011 - because back then I was not ready or willing for what it had to offer to try and achieve some personal growth and overcome some obstacles - NONE OF WHICH HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH HAVING A PSYCHIATRIC SERVICE DOG. We stay on the ward Monday thru Thursday night however it is considered an OUTPATIENT program (which wouldn't matter anyway because their regs say a SERVICE DOG can stay with an in-patient as long as that in-patient, family member or staff can see to the dogs needs) and go home on weekends. I have been there 11 days and at this point have an extremely upset to the point of being almost sick service dog on my hands. You should not separate a service dog and their handler and if you can find that somewhere for me I would appreciate it. I tried to talk to the doctor who implemented these programs - as Miami VA was the starter program for them - as he did not know his head from a hole in the ground. An Emotional Support Animal is nothing more than a well trained house pet with NO SPECIAL TRAINING OR SKILL SET. He showed me the regs and said your dog must be able to do a "physical", "sensory", and "mental" task for you to be considered a service dog. I named one for all three and he said "Well, that involves emotion so he is an emotional support dog." What am I? a robot? I asked him to name me three and he could not and we went round and round. So, I am no longer upset. I am very worried about Cody. I want as many answers as I can find and I am angry.............especially since I am working with my psycholgist at my home VA to put together information to present to the mental health staff (and eventually hold a seminar at my VA for staff and veterans alike) concerning SERVICE DOGS (all kinds), Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Dogs - what the difference is and what they are all about. This is something I know quite a lot about, am very passionate about and being 100% disabled eventually want to do - help other veterans obtain service dogs and train them as much as I can until they can get into a service dog training organization since the VA cut funding forPSYCHIATRIC SERVICE DOGS in August of 2012 saying they did the veterans no good. If it were not for these dogs the suicide rate of 22 a day would be much higher - I know this for a fact.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I apologize it took so long to get back to you. I did not have the password. I really hope you can help. I probably not be back on till tomorrow evening.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply. I also apologize for my delay in replying as I have been traveling all day.
They cannot deny you a service dog, regardless of what they are trying to do. It is a violation of the service dog laws and of the ADA. At this point, if they are trying to say this is only a psychiatric service dog, when you can show it is more than that, you are now going to have to seek to sue them for violation of your rights. You can start by filing a complaint to the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, since they would investigate this type of conduct. If the US Department of Justice cannot resolve this situation, you are going to need a local civil rights attorney to proceed to court against them, since you have proof that this is a necessary service not just an emotional support dog.