ESA Weekly News Report April 17th: The Mystery of Missing ESA, Scooby, Solved… and More!

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In your weekly dose of ESA news, we bring you the latest stories relating to emotional support animals (ESAs) around this country.

This week we look into the missing ESA Scooby, positive effects of emotional support animals at a Minnesota workplace and follow the struggle of a Virginia middle school student to bring her ESA to school in order to help her with her disabilities.

Read on to find out more about the latest news stories from this week.

Scooby Dooby Doo, Where are you? Chilling Story of How a Missing ESA Was Found

Timothy Overgaard and Amber Blanchard are the proud pet parents of a Great Dane appropriately named Scooby. Timmy, aged 22, was injured while working for the Coast Guard and now relies heavily on his emotional support animal Scooby.

The couple recently went through a horrible ordeal when Scooby went missing. As they were making home renovations, they tried to find a board situation for Scooby. A woman from a rescue group offered to look after him but went off the grid once he was in their care.

Amber did everything they could to find him. She got the news and police involved and after many phone calls trying to trace the whereabouts of Scooby, the search ended in success. The rescue organization turned the blame on Amber and is threatening to sue Amber, who was only trying to find her dog.

“Tim and I are both just so happy to have him back and cannot thank everyone enough for their help in finding him,” said Amber. “We are not going to sue the rescue group, but they are going to try to sue us, so we’ll see what happens. I’m just glad to have [Scooby] home.”


Workplaces, Retailers in Minnesota Go Dog-Friendly

ESAs are no strangers to controversy, often facing criticism when taken out in public. But it appears attitudes are slowly changing, with more and more bosses and businesses realizing the benefits that pets can bring both to profits and productivity.

Retail initiatives such as dog-friendly periods in shopping malls have been popular in the state of Minnesota, encouraging shoppers to flock to the centers in record numbers.

Retailers and firms that have gone dog-friendly say that it has helped recruit workers and even lure new customers. They also acknowledge it’s opened the door to some difficult situations, like when owners don’t clean up after their pets or try to pass off their dogs as trained service animals so that they can bring them anywhere.

But these incidents appear to be in the minority.

Digital business consultancy Nerdery has been welcoming dogs alongside their employees for years, like Josh Ellingson, who brings his Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Penny to work with him each day.

“It kinda helps me during my day to feel less stressed out,” he said, noting that Penny seems to do the same job for his colleagues as well. “People come by and say hi to her all the time, and that seems to be a stress-reliever for them.”

Employees need to keep their dogs leashed and supervised at all times at Nerdery. In the last four or five years, only one dog has been “suspended.”

“The general feeling and general view is that in this place, this company cares about its people and cares about their families,” said Chris Rush, the company’s facilities management director. “The dogs are just an extension of their families.”


emotional support animal sitting on office chair

Danville Student Struggles for ESA Permission

A student is struggling to keep their ESA alongside them at a middle school in Virginia.

Student Katrina Smolinski has what she calls “blackouts” and her dog can tell when she’s about to go into one. Katrina suffers from PTSD, ADHD, and dyslexia – all diagnosed in her before the age of five.

Meanwhile, Rusty, her emotional support dog was hit by a car.

Their bond over shared traumatic experiences is a vital part of their strong connection, and the Smolinski family says that the school is breaking the state’s Disabilities Act Law by not allowing the dog alongside her at school.

The school, however, says that only service animals are covered under the law—and therefore the same protections do not apply to emotional support animals. 


CertaPet’s View on This Week’s ESA News

Although ESAs are recognized as assistance animals in the US, they do not have the same protection as service dogs do. ESAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). There is no law that allows them in other public places.

ESAs are only allowed in places that are “pet-friendly”. However, because we know how important ESAs are for the wellbeing of people suffering from mental illnesses, we strongly encourage people to put their best foot forward and ask whether their ESA may be permitted, instead of threatening with legal persecution.

If you’re thinking of getting an ESA for yourself to take to work (with the permission of your employer of course), there’s no more convenient option than using Certapet’s process

It’s simple to take our free online 5-minute pre-screening, and if your answers indicate that you may qualify for an ESA, we will connect you with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). You could then have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hrs, with no fuss.

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