Dogs are more and more like family to us. Why do some public places still bar them?

By Cinnamon Janzer Washington Post

In her 2014 New Yorker essay “Pets Allowed,” author Patricia Marx explored the proliferation of fraudulent emotional support animals (ESAs). Marx began by asking why so many pets are allowed in places they “shouldn’t be,” followed by an image of the author in a drugstore with an alpaca at her side. By telling a therapist a made-up story about her childhood, Marx obtained ESA credentials to tote “five un-cuddly, non-nurturing animals” around New York City. She took a turtle into an art museum, a pig into an airport and a snake into a fancy boutique.
Marx smartly and humorously illustrated how easy it is to game the system, blaming the phenomenon on a lack of understanding and regulation around ESA laws combined with animal lovers who have no problem bypassing their own doctors and going online to buy ESA credentials, likening transgressors to able-bodied adults whose vehicles sport handicapped license plates. Marx isn’t alone in her displeasure with pets being where they “shouldn’t be” — others have railed against dogs in stores, dogs in restaurants and dogs who have a high spot on their owners’ priority lists.
I have experienced anxiety and depression for years, and I’m one of the pet-owners Marx’s piece and those who share her sentiments take aim at: I’m an unmarried, childless millennial whose dog is at the center of her universe. When those inevitable days hit when getting out of bed is a battle, my dog Gus’s enthusiastic requests for food and a walk are sometimes the only things that motivate me to start the day. However, even when I’m not in the middle of a bout of anxiety, I still want him with me often when I go out in public. And I’m not the only one. For me and millions of Americans, discrimination against pets in public spaces reflects an antiquated conception of the role pets can play in people’s lives.

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