This is my confession of how I became an ESA and not a pet. I can’t reveal my name, but let’s just say I’m a dog who is pretty good at typing. This a true story. (Just trust me on this.)
I was born into a litter of five. Someone said something about a “puppy mill” but my mom denied it. My first master thought I was cute and adopted me. I lived in an apartment and one day pushed the screen out to play with some other dogs across the complex. Later that day, a man came by and put a noose around my neck and hauled me off to a big building with a bunch of other dogs. There was lots of barking there, but also good food. I noticed every two weeks some of the other dogs would disappear and never come back. The girl that brought me my food seemed sad.
One day a mother and her daughter came and took a liking to me. I licked their hand and they smelled good to me so I happily went home with them. They lived in a thing called a cooperative housing association. They called me a pet. It seemed a pet was a good thing and so I didn’t object, at least at that time. Besides all I had to do was lie around, eat and occasionally push my nose into my master’s lap. Yet, my master ignored me most of the time. To top it off, my master’s daughter who initially said she loved me spent most the time on her phone texting her friends and ignoring me. It seemed they wanted me, but didn’t need me. Perhaps the Governor’s lockdown had driven them all a little crazy. I began asking myself: “Is this how one should treat man’s best friend?”
On top of it all, for some reason they kept me inside all the time. Whenever I barked they told me to be quiet. I couldn’t go outside and play. This seemed cruel because dogs were meant to be outside. At least that’s what my mother told me and she watched church on television in the old days which made it true. Every day I would go to the window and look out, but to my amazement I never saw any other dogs. It seemed like I was the only dog at the cooperative.
One day a lady came to the door and asked my master about paying something called “delinquent carrying charges.” My master said she would do so. I was so excited that I began barking. The lady at the door noticed me and began asking questions about why I was even there. She said I shouldn’t be there. She said that the cooperative had a “no pet policy.” At first that didn’t bother me because I was a dog, but then I remembered my master called me a pet, too. Boy, I figured I was a goner. The lady gave my master two weeks to get rid of me. I was torn emotionally. Should I stay and be caged in a small
Attorney Kerry L. Morgan is Of Counsel to Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak, P.C. Disability law is among one focus of his practice areas. He has extensive experience in advising housing clients in avoiding and resolving ESA issues and development of legally compliant pet and ESA policies. Prior to his current legal affiliation, he served as an Attorney-Advisor with the United States Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. He also was appointed as the Director of the U.S. Bicentennial Project for Regent University. He resides in Redford, Michigan with his family, two shelties who roam the property, and one tabby cat he keeps a close eye on, named Mr. Kekers.
building the rest of my life or should I run away and be free? I remembered what someone once said on my master’s radio: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (I’m pretty smart for my breed.)
I didn’t see my master much after that. She was on the internet day and night. She kept searching for something and I knew it had to do with me. She finally found this website of other pet owners who had dogs called pets. She ordered something on Amazon and it came a few days later. She made me wear this silly vest with big words printed on the side declaring I was a service animal or a guide dog or an emotional support animal. What an embarrassment. I wasn’t a cat. I wasn’t Mr. Tinkles like in my favorite movie “Cats and Dogs.” If I didn’t take a stand, I just knew I would end up like Mr. Tinkles, who every self-respecting dog knows can be dressed up to look ridiculous.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt3vT8WA8HM&ab_channel=LilyPrado
My master stopped calling me a pet. She now was calling me an ESA. What is an ESA I though? If I was going to be an ESA it seemed like I should know what that meant. My master called up the lady who came to the door two weeks earlier and said I was not a pet but had converted to an ESA. It seemed like a religion the way everyone talked about it.
I’m pretty good with the Internet too. I looked up ESA. Was she talking about the European Space Agency? That can’t be good. I once watched a horror picture about a master race of cats titled “The Cat from Outer Space.” Sure, that cat had more charisma than most actors today, but nobody is going to put me in outer space or make a cat out of me. (Though I think Elon Musk is pretty cool and I wouldn’t mind being his dog at Space X.)
Or maybe it meant I was now an enrolled member of the Eastern Surfing Association. That didn’t sound too bad. I always wanted to get outside and go surfing like the other dogs I saw on my masters daughter’s phone when she was surfing the Internet. Here is a link.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEJ4aDlBArA
I thought, “Who knows I might even meet Tulsi Gabbard out surfing one day.”
But when no space ship came in the mail or even a little surfboard, I knew ESA meant something else. If I was no longer a pet and now an ESA, what could it mean?
I soon learned there was going to be a big meeting with my master, her daughter and the lady at the door. I was even invited. My master made me wear that silly cat-suit vest. The shame of it all. My master told the lady at the door that I was an ESA because I ameliorated the effects of her daughter’s depression and enabled my master to share in the benefits and privileges of the cooperative on an equal basis with all other members who did not own ESAs. She said her doctor had written a note to this effect diagnosing her daughter, and how I was medically necessary as a reasonable accommodation. Yah, right.
The lady at the door then met with a group of other people who seemed nice and then they all left the room to talk to a man in a suit. They said we couldn’t go into the room but I went over and with my super dog hearing listened in on what was going on. The man in the suit used a bunch of words I didn’t understand, but seemed like he knew what he was talking about. He said this was all a bunch of dog poop (which I found personally insulting.) He said my master was just making this all up in order to come within the scope of the ADA in order to keep me. I didn’t know what the ADA meant and assumed it meant Advanced Dog Academy. I later on learned it meant Americans with Disabilities Act. I’m not sure anyone else understood the man in the suit either, but everyone said his views were just like a Supreme Court opinion because they turned everything upside down. I was a pet, but now I was not a pet. I was a dog, but treated like a cat. I was now an ESA. . . . . See what I mean, upside down?
None of the people in the room really liked things turned upside down and they argued with the man in the suit. But since the man in the suit kept referring to new suits, they just followed what he said. Personally, I thought his suit was really nice as I noticed some dog hair on it. He didn’t need a new law suit, whatever that was.
After that life returned to normal. I eat and sleep most of the time and occasionally nuzzled my nose into my master’s lap. My master’s daughter never plays with me and she watches videos on her cell phone just as before. They never went back to the doctor, or made me wear the evil Mr. Tinkles cat vest, and they still introduce me as their pet to this very day. Sometimes my master takes me for walks outside where I dream of surfing with Tulsi. Yet, I still suffer emotional distress from being caged in a home. I still have nightmares about Russian ninja cats taking over the world.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeF3Q6eTU5k&ab_channel=Movieclips
But my veterinarian has prescribed some pills for my emotional disability. She prescribed more human contact too, but that has yet to occur. It’s day-to-day with me, but that’s a dog’s life. And that’s my confession of how I became an ESA with a disability of my own, and not a pet.