An Open Letter To Those Abusing The Freedom Of Emotional Support Animals

An Open Letter To Those Abusing The Freedom Of Emotional Support Animals

Please stop.


This isn't an anti-ESA rant. I am all for dogs providing a better quality of life for their owners, in whatever way that may be.

But I am against the growing number of people who throw the words "I'll just say I have an Emotional Support Animal, then they can't tell me I can't have my dog." I hear this too often, and I've held my tongue long enough.

Here is the simple truth: Emotional Support Animals ARE NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE PROFESSIONAL TRAINING.

Let me tell you how easy it is to acquire your own ESA. About nine years ago I was looking to move into an apartment, but was unsure about how having two large dogs would affect that. I was training dogs at the time and thought getting letters of recommendations from various clients that knew and interacted with my dogs regularly might help. I even asked our mail carrier, who not only agreed but also mentioned that pet guideline didn't always apply to certified Therapy Dogs - which both my Rottweiler and Silver Lab/Chesapeake Bay Retriever Mix were.

I was relieved to find out that not only would my dogs be allowed, but the pet fee and deposit would also be waived! Both of my dogs went through training and certification to become Therapy Dogs, which are dogs that volunteer their time and love to visit various places. This could be the hospital, schools, or nursing homes. My girls especially loved Saturdays at the library, where kids would read books to them.

Therapy Dogs are different than Service Dogs because their job is not to save someone's life but to simply cheer someone up. They are required to pass extensive testing to ensure they can handle the environments they will be exposed to.

Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and even libraries have a lot of activity and can be very loud. Beeping machines, small spaces, and constant activity mean a significant amount of stimulation. Dogs must prove that they can remain calm, and most importantly, cannot be aggressive in any way. Owners (also called handlers) must also show that they can act appropriately when handling their dog in public, meaning they can control their dog in a manner that isn't threatening or distracting to everyone around them. These dogs are not allowed to go everywhere with their owners, only to designated places where Therapy Dogs are asked to volunteer at specific times. A Therapy Dog will never be required to "work" for anyone full-time, or even part-time.

After finding an apartment complex that allowed my girls despite their policy about dogs, I knew when the time came to look again; we likely wouldn't have the same amazing luck.

I eventually came across a complex that would not allow my Rottweiler, because, well - you know. They're on the banned breed list which means every Rottweiler is aggressive and a danger to anyone within three states of it! It didn't matter that my big, goofy dog was thoroughly tested for any signs of aggression because she would end up spending hours on an uncomfortable floor while small children draped themselves over her and shoved books in her face "because the pictures are also important." However, one property manager had the perfect solution for me. If I wanted my dog to be able to live anywhere, all I needed to do was tell my doctor I had anxiety and depression, and that my Rottweiler helped me deal with it.

"Your dog doesn't even need training or certification!" He told me, also adding that if my doctor wouldn't sign off on this lie, PLENTY of other doctors would, and I didn't even need to know them or be their patient.

Basically, I was being told that any person with an aggressive and untrained dog had easy access to a document that would let their dogs live anywhere. Some even claimed that this meant they could bring their dogs wherever they went. It didn't make any sense to me, but apparently, this wasn't a concern to anyone involved in this scheme. Not only was this practice being done almost ten years ago, it's somehow survived and only gotten worse in recent times. A guy at the dog park said he had a few hours to waste because he wasn't allowed to have a dog in the townhouse he was living at. The owners of the property "had been staking him out" which was fine because he was meeting up with a friend who was bringing documentation that said his dog was his Emotional Support Animal and then he could go home because they wouldn't have the right to refuse him or evict him.

Okay, so now people were using drug dealing tactics to get fake papers for their fake Emotional Support Animals?!

I can't even imagine what this situation is going to be like just a few years from now. There are people out there who truly benefit from what Emotional Support Animals were originally intended to provide. But those who are abusing the use of ESA are hurting individuals in need, including those with Service Animals. Think twice before going around and bragging about your "Emotional Support Animal."

You might just piss off the right emotionally unstable person who doesn't have an ESA dog because they tried to go about it the right way, instead of the shady way you did.

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20 Of The Coolest Animal Species In The World

Animals that almost seem imaginary.

The world is full of amazing animals. So amazing, that narrowing them down to 20 felt nearly impossible. To determine who made the cut for this list, I used very important factors such as, cuteness and how much some of them looked like Pokémon . I know, very official. So here are some of the coolest animals in the world.

1. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest and cutest species of armadillo. It is on the list of threatened species and is found in the sandy plains, dunes, and grasslands of Argentina. The pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature that survives mostly on insects and plants.

2. Okapi

The okapi is an animal native to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Although the stripes make many people believe okapi are related to zebra, they are actually closer to giraffe. Okapi are solitary creatures and come together to breed. They are herbivores, mostly eating leaves, grass, and other plants.

3. Glaucus Atlanticus or "the Blue Dragon"

These little dragon-like creatures are often only about a few inches long and can be found in the Indian Pacific Oceans. The blue dragon floats upside down in order to blend the blue side of them with the water, and the silver side with the surface of the ocean. This tiny dragon feeds on creatures like the man o' war and can even deliver a sting similar to it.

4. The Maned Wolf

The maned wolf is often found in the grasslands of south, central-west, and southeastern parts of Brazil. It is neither related to wolves nor foxes despite its appearance and name, but is actually closer to dogs. The maned wolf hunts alone and primarily eats both meat and plants (about 50% of its diet).

5. Fossa

The fossa is a carnivorous animal located in Madagascar. Despite having many traits similar to cats, it is more closely related to the Mongoose. The fossa is only found in forest habitats and can hunt in either daytime or night. Over 50 percent of its diet happens to be lemurs.

6. Japanese Spider Crab

As the name suggestions, the Japanese spider crab inhabits the waters surrounding Japan. In many parts of Japan, this crab can be considered a delicacy but can be considerably difficult to catch. The Japanese spider crab can grow to 12 feet long from claw to claw. There is only one sea creature-- amongst similar species (aka crustaceans)-- that beats the weight of a Japanese spider crab: the American Lobster.

7. Pacu Fish

Look closely at the teeth, do they look familiar? This fish is found in the waters of South America. This fish, while related to the piranha, can actually grow much larger. They can also be found in rivers like the Amazon and is an aid to the fishing industry. Unlike the piranha, pacu mostly only eat seeds and nuts, though can still create nasty injuries to other animals if need be.

8. Slow Loris

The slow loris is a nocturnal creature found in Southeast Asia. While very adorable, the loris's teeth are actually quite venomous. The toxin on their teeth can also be applied to fur through grooming to protect its babies from predators. Often times these creatures forage and spend time alone, although can on occasion be seen with other slow lorises. Apart from their toxic teeth, the slow lorises have another defense mechanism, in which they move nearly completely silently in order to prevent discovery.

9. Angora Rabbit

These cute, fluffy rabbits are among the hairiest breeds of rabbit of both wild and domestic types. These rabbits originated in Turkey although managed to spread throughout Europe and was even brought to the United States in the 20th century. These rabbits are often bred for their soft wool which can be made into clothing, and often get rid of their own coats every 3-4 months.

10. Axolotl

The axolotl or "Mexican salamander" (who looks like a Pokémon , if you ask me) is often spotted in lakes in various places around Mexico. These little salamanders are amphibious although often spend their adult lives strictly in the water. However, the population of these cute creatures is dwindling due to non-native predators and the continued urbanization of Mexico. The axolotl eats small worms, insects, and fish in order to survive.

11. Liger

The liger, however made up it sounds, is a real (and cute) animal created by a lion and a tiger mating. Ligers only seem to exist in captivity or zoos because the lion and tiger don't share the same habitat in the wild. Unfortunately, these animals don't live very long or are sterile despite being bigger than both the lion and the tiger. While these animals are cool and unique, they are not strictly natural or sustainable.

12. Bearded Vulture

I don't know about you all, but this vulture reminds me of a phoenix which was initially why I looked into the creature. These vultures inhabit a range of places from southern Europe to the Indian subcontinent, to Tibet. This vulture, like other vultures, typically eats dead animals, although it has been documented that the bearded vulture will attack live prey more often than other vultures.

13. Goblin Shark

This unusual shark is also known as a "living fossil" because they are the last representative of sharks that lived about 125 million years ago. It is a deep sea shark that can grow between 10-13 feet if not longer. The goblin shark has been caught accidentally in every major ocean. The goblin shark is not a fast swimmer and relies on ambushing its prey.

14. Red Panda

This cute, small panda lives in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The red panda is rather small, only about the same size as most domestic cats. Its eating habits range from bamboo, to eggs, to insects, and several other small mammals. The red panda is primarily sedentary during the day and at night or in the morning does whatever hunting it needs to do.

15. Blobfish

This blobfish is, in a way, so ugly that it is cute (although reminds me of a certain Pokémon ) This fish lives in the deep waters of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The blobfish has a density only sightly above that of water. The fish primarily hunts by just floating along and letting creatures wander into its mouth, rather than expending any energy.

16. Leaf Deer

The leaf deer is usually found in dense forests in the northwest region of Putao. The adult leaf deer only stands at about 20 inches high and the males and females are nearly identical except for an inch long horn on the males. It is called a leaf deer because hunters could wrap the deer in a single large leaf.

17. Tiger

While tigers are a more common animal than many others on this list, it is still one of the coolest animals in the world. Tigers are the largest of all cats and once ranged from Russia, to Turkey, to parts of Asia — almost all over the world. These animals are fierce, powerful creatures, although they are on the endangered species list.

18. Narwhals

Narwhals are a species of whale that live in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The narwhal's diet changes depending on the time of year: in the spring the narwhal will eat cod, while in the winter the narwhal will eat flatfish. Narwhals can live up to 50 years and most frequently die of suffocation from being trapped under the ice.

19. Cheetah

Cheetahs, while more commonly heard of then some of the other animals on this list, are still incredibly cool. They often inhabit many parts of Africa and Iran. These amazing cats can reach up to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and use their tails to make quick and sudden turns. These amazing cats also have semi-retractable claws which helps with speed. The cheetah, however, doesn't have much besides speed to defend itself.

And finally....

20. Superb Bird of Paradise

This GIF demonstrates the mating dance used by male superb birds of paradise. Typically females reject about 20 mates before selecting one they want to mate with. They are often found in New Guinea although it is unsure just how many of these birds there are. As far as scientists know, the population has remained stable.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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The Reality Of Cat Shows

Go in with an open mind, because cat shows may seem totally bizarre, but are incredibly fun and special.


As a self-declared cat lady, when I decided to attend my first cat show I was hyped to pet all the kitties, and watch them do tricks, or show off their beauty. After attending a few, I know they're totally unique and amazing events that everyone should be attending.

Upon arriving, you will probably need to pay an entry fee, and maybe there's an area for donations for local animal shelters (yes, animal breeders support animal shelters!). You might be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of cats, as far as the eye can see. Having a game plan of cats to visit might seem fun, but just roaming and visiting is a lot more fulfilling, and you may discover breeds of cats you never knew you would love. Usually, cat shows will feature visiting areas for guests attending the show to view, and sometimes pet, the cats. As well as areas where cats are judged and given awards, sort of like miniature stages.

Visitor areas are pretty self-explanatory as you can roam around and look at the dozens of different breeds, of kittens and cats alike. The diversity will amaze you and the cats are all special and loved by their owner. Because cats can catch sicknesses while surrounded by so many other cats, it's important to sanitize your hands before petting, as well as asking the owner if you can pet their cat or kitten. Some may even let you hold their cat, but this would be rare and you shouldn't get your hopes up! While viewing cats, you may find some that are up for adoption and could find a new family member. Some cats are actually people's household pets, and are scored differently from a cat who was bred for its looks!

The competition side is where the cat shows get interesting. You can view any and all competitions, although there will be many occurring at a time. That's because cats will initially be ranked against the cats of the same breed as them, and within those breeds, by gender and color style. Winning best in the breed is the first step to becoming the champion of a cat show. Watch as owners get nervous and excited as the tiny plastic awards go up, showing which cat was victorious. Although all judges can be different, it's fun to see beautiful and friendly cats win awards and look pleased with themselves as their owner smiles with pride.

Later in the day or weekend, one cat will be chosen as the grand champion out of the best in breeds. Usually, fans can vote on their favorite as well, and award a special cat a top prize, although unofficial, for its cuteness and spirit. A hairless cat has won fan favorite at every show I attended!

Go in with an open mind, because cat shows may seem totally bizarre, but are incredibly fun and special. The group of people who participate will love to tell you about their amazing cat and let you in on cat show secrets. A place where cat lovers unite, what could be better?

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