Service animals

I’m wondering about the practice of using service animals in universities because one finds the climate very negative.  I do know some academics who have service animals that are to help with anxiety and depression, so there is some precedent.  The picture of lots of women in philosophy suddenly showing up with service animals is very appealing, to me at least.

A second question is whether anyone knows whether anyone has employed one or more cats to be psychological service animals.  To me the following two kittens could even look as service animals in training:

They are, by the way, blue pointed traditional siamese; “traditional” is contrasted with the newer and more tubular siamese.

newer kind

6 thoughts on “Service animals

  1. That second cat looks like it might be trouble.

    What I know, though, is that if my cat didn’t get motion sickness when I take him on transport, I’d turn every day into “Take your cat to work” day.

  2. My understanding is that as of a couple of years ago, in the U.S. dogs are the *only* animals legally allowed to be considered service animals, and only if they perform a specific function. The point was indeed to rule out ‘comfort animals’ (for stuff like general anxiety and depression) about which there were worries of people taking unjust advantage. I have, however, encountered dogs specifically trained for anxiety and PTSD–trained basically to judge people’s body language and body type (I guess sex/build/maybe race or age?) and whether or not they likely posed a threat to the handler.

  3. I think this is going to far.
    If people will take cats (which I love), dogs (which I fear) or snakes (no comment) to help with “anxiety or depression”, then I should also be allowed to smoke cigars indoors. These cigars really help me to fight depression and anxiety!

  4. Andrea, but my cat won’t harm your lungs.

    Cats can be trained nd can be very good at detecting changes in smell that indicate severe anxiety, etc.

    I think we also need to ditinguish between clinical depression and anxiety disorders from ‘merely’ needing comfort. It seems entirely against the spirit of the ADA to say that only those with visible disabilities can have service animals.

    And perhaps we’d need to advance an entirely separate argument for making animals available to women phils if they want them. Perhaps they could be service-preventive animals.

    Another thought: if there’s an all-male conference, behaps women in the area could show up with pets who could calm everything down. I expect it would be easy to train a dog to object stenuously to an argument one indicated was bad. And of could monkeys could be very quick.

  5. It seems entirely against the spirit of the ADA to say that only those with visible disabilities can have service animals.

    Yes, and this is not the case, e.g. seizure detection dogs for people with epilepsy, stranger alert dogs for people with PTSD. I expect that some dogs (especially sighthounds, maybe?) are well able to pick up on early signs of an oncoming panic attack and could be trained specifically for people with PA-prone anxiety disorders.

    I don’t think the point of the restrictions was necessarily to rule out service dogs for depression and such; I’m sure there are ways to train a dog specifically to handle certain functions that could help a person with depression. The idea was to prevent people from claiming their ‘ordinary’ pets were in fact service animals so they could take the pets places where animals are generally not permitted. It’s very helpful for people who are so allergic to animals that they can’t be in the same room with one, to the extent of leaving a restaurant in the middle of a meal if a service dog/cat comes in. It’s just another nasty case of a few rotten people ruining it for the ones who genuinely need the companionship to function. (n.b. I volunteer with a service dog training organization, and my father is in that group of allergy sufferers).

    Actually, I’m interested in ethical perspectives on the service animals vs allergy sufferers conundrum. (I’m not talking about sniffles but ambulance-garnering asthma attacks and days-long itching misery.) Is there a universally accessible solution?

    The academic service dog: barks to end your conference presentation when the time limit is up, saving your professional career.

  6. ” Andrea, but my cat won’t harm your lungs.”

    It will harm the lungs of people with cat allergies.

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