From the 2012 Resident Move-In Guide, I quote, "(We are) not a pet friendly community. If you are seen with a pet or are housing a pet, you will be fined appropriately." Never ones to back down from a challenge, my daughter and her three roommates went out and adopted a tiny black kitten. Before the girls even had a chance to name their new pet, it died. From the pictures I saw of it, the little thing looked sickly, so I wasn't surprised when it happened.
My husband and I counseled Paige against getting another cat, but our parental clout doesn't carry much, well, clout, from six hours away. Within a few days another kitten was installed, and the girls dubbed him Tito Paquito. From his pictures, Teets (their name, not mine) looks pretty healthy and appears to be thriving in that zoo called college life. But I'm not happy with the girls flaunting the rules, and I worry about what's going to happen to the little guy when (if) management gets wise to his presence.
When we expressed our dismay over the acquisition of a replacement cat, and the heartbreak that will likely ensue when management demands the girls get rid of it, we were told that Kelli, one of the roommates and Tito's rightful owner, was going to have the cat certified as a service animal, thereby getting around the pet ban. Honestly, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry over such chutzpah. Kelli, it seems, suffers from anxiety, and this will be the basis for getting Teets certified. Personally, I think the girls are certifiable, but that's another story.
Here's a true story: when my husband worked for Greyhound, they had a situation involving a service snake. Yes, you read that correctly. Snake. In a Greyhound version of Snakes on a Plane, a man boarded a bus carrying a snake in a duffel bag. At some point during the trip, the man took the reptile out of the bag. Naturally, all hell broke loose, forcing the driver to pull over and yell, "Enough is enough! I have had it with this $#&@! snake on this %#&!# bus!" Actually, I made up that last part. Anyway, when the man was told he could not have a snake aboard the bus, he showed papers stating that the critter was a service animal; its owner had emotional issues and the snake helped to keep him calm. The snake may have kept him calm, but I can't say the same for the other passengers. Regardless, man and serpent were allowed to travel to their destination, and there wasn't a thing Greyhound could do about it.
This got me to wondering if the feline variety can even be trained as service animals. Dogs, with their pathetic need to please, are naturals, but our two cats are trying to kill me, or at least maim me for life. They sit down suddenly in mid-stride when I am right behind them, dart out at my feet when I walk by, and force me to step over or around them while I am carrying large loads, hot pans, knives, boiling liquids, glass, nuclear warheads, scissors, and other similar items of death and destruction. One time, when I slipped and fell in the bathtub, instead of running to Richard to summon help, they both sat there and smirked.
Google, that wonderful on-line card catalog, tells me that there are service animals and emotional support animals (ESA). Under Department of Justice guidelines (the DOJ is charged with administering the Americans with Disabilities Act), a service animal is any dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The guidelines exclude all other species, both domestic and wild, trained and untrained, from the definition of a service animal.
An ESA, on the other hand, is not task trained and, in fact, requires no special training beyond that of a well behaved pet. These animals provide comfort, companionship and emotional support, and are not considered true service animals. If a medical doctor believes that a patient with a disabling mental or emotional condition might benefit from an ESA, the doctor can write a letter of support. If the patient lives in "no pets" housing, the letter is usually sufficient to allow the ESA on the premises, and to travel with its owner in the cabin of an aircraft.
CAN cats be trained to assist humans? Google had very little to offer on the topic. Some cats can warn their owners of an impending seizure. Supposedly these cats are ultra sensitive to the minute changes that occur prior to onset. By playing up and reinforcing the cat's natural radar, it can be trained to alert its owner before a seizure happens. As awesome as this is, it still doesn't get the cat into Wal-Mart or a seat at Chez McD's; only a real service dog has that right.
If you've never seen it, check out the season 3 episode on Malcolm in the Middle called "Monkey". In it, Lois' co-worker Craig, who is temporarily confined to a wheelchair while his broken bones mend, gets himself a helper monkey, a small capuchin named Oliver. Everything is going peachy until Oliver's homicidal tendencies surface, and Craig is in fear for his life.
Monkeys and kitties and snakes, oh, my!
Get notified of new content! Enter your email address in the space below to get started...