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Monday, May 15, 2006

Greetings from NYC

Where Saturday, when I arrived, it was gloriously spring-like: clear, balmy, bright. Today it's winter again: chilly, rainy, and gray. Yuck! At least my parents' building is pet-friendly, so I can ward off the bad-weather blues by hugging Jordan the Golden retriever, or Tallulah the silky-eared Vizsla.

Which brings me to a story in yesterday's New York Times style section, about the increasing prevalence of emotional-support service dogs.

Now, it's no secret that our pets make us feel better: more secure, calmer, more positive. For some people with serious emotional issues like depression, they can mean the difference between functioning and psychological paralysis. The Americans With Disabilities Act recognizes this, as does the airline industry, which has made accomodations for service animals of all kinds.

But inevitably, there are people trying to game the system, abusing the priviledge and to my mind, endangering the rights of those who truly qualify for service-animal status.

I've done stories about the rigorous training that bona fide service animals must go through to be certified, and that's as it should be. People who cynically slap a service-dog vest on their untrained pet are going to ruin it for everyone, and that's just wrong.

Click here to read the story, and let me know what you think.