Owner of "emotional service" cat frustrated by registration abuses

2 years 3 months 6 days ago Tuesday, July 14 2015 Jul 14, 2015 Tuesday, July 14, 2015 7:03:51 PM CDT July 14, 2015 in News
By: Dani Sureck, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - As she finished packing the last of her boxes to change apartments, Christina Rees said she relied on her emotional service cat, Cici, to keep her calm through the transition.

"She allows me to be who I am and not be afraid to have breakdowns," Rees said.

Rees got Cici in May 2014 with the intention to register her as an emotional service animal. Rees said she grew up with cats and needed a reminder of home to help with her anxiety and depression after her freshman year of college.

Rees said she spoke with her counselor who agreed to the idea of an emotional service animal.

In November 2015, Rees got a second cat, Raja, which she plans to train as a therapy cat in the future. Rees said her cats help with her anxiety and depression.

"If I'm crying, my cats wipe away my tears," Rees said. "They purr and it actually calms me down and brings my heart rate down."

As a registered emotional service animal, Cici is considered a "reasonable accommodation" under no-pet housing rules under the federal Fair Housing Act. Rees said she did not experience trouble with the landlord of her future apartment, but she had previous landlords who argued that Cici was not considered a medical need.

"To be fought on my service cat that I have rights for was insane," Rees said.

Emotional service animals differ from therapy animals because emotional service animals are not specifically trained to perform tasks for a disability. Therapy animals are trained to be taken out in public places and are trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Rees says some people might not think emotional service animals are necessary because the owners might not have the kind of obvious physical needs typically served by therapy animals.

"I think there's still such a stigma around emotional and psychological disorders," Rees said. "I think once we understand the psychological disorders more as a society, we'll be able to understand the pets that can help it."

Rees said she feels some people take advantage of registering pets as emotional service animals.

"It's really frustrating because some people abuse it," Rees said.

The registration includes identification cards, a vest and a certificate. Rees said she has seen the vests for sale online with no certification required.

The registration takes just a few steps online, and Rees said, when she offered a counselor note to the website for confirmation, the company said it was not necessary.

Rees is not the only one who fears the registration process is to easy. Debbie Danner, a licensed therapist, said she feels the emotional service animal registration process needs improvement.

"It's basically a scam because there's no federal law saying that they have any protections at all," Danner said. "The point of it, I don't understand."

Danner uses her therapy dog, Chloe, in some of her sessions. She said animals can have a dramatic effect on a person's mood.

"The emotional impact of animals for specific people and specific situations can really be tremendous," Danner said.

Rees said she has benefited from Cici and will train her new cat, Raja, to be a therapy animal once she is old enough.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Elm Street will open on Friday after five months of construction. Patricia Hayles with Columbia Sewer Utility said... More >>
19 minutes ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 6:59:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that public defenders may not turn away clients without first getting permission... More >>
41 minutes ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 6:37:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA– A shuttle service responsible for bringing residents back-and-forth to campus is citing a communication breakdown for its slow response... More >>
53 minutes ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 6:25:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens has appointed a Republican Missouri House member to serve as an associate circuit... More >>
1 hour ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 5:31:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA -- The City of Columbia received recognition for its efforts in working towards LGBTQ equality. The city earned... More >>
1 hour ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 5:20:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — An official from a company working to commercialize high-speed Hyperloop transportation says Missouri is among the... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 4:23:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
FULTON -- A South Callaway High School student is accused of sending out a threatening Snapchat. Police said the... More >>
3 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 3:54:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman had pleaded guilty to failing to pay taxes on at least... More >>
4 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 2:55:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A woman has admitted that she lied about her nursing credentials to work at a St.... More >>
4 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 2:33:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
FULTON – Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center is in the middle of a 55-day outage, where crews will replace fuel... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 1:42:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Students were speaking out in frustration Thursday about how professors handled Wednesday's active threat on the MU campus.... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 1:40:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Access to health care can be a matter of life or death. Callaway County's only hospital almost... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 12:47:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The question of whether to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary, in part because of its Confederate roots, will... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 12:44:00 PM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The attorneys general for 49 states and the District of Columbia reached a settlement with General Motors... More >>
7 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 11:57:11 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - Sheriff's deputies said a teenager was shot in a home on Bethany Drive on Wednesday. The... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 10:43:00 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Police are investigating a home invasion on Clark Lane after victims said two men broke in and took... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 10:07:00 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - For Harold’s Doughnuts owner Michael Urban, big customer turnout and big sales are Homecoming traditions he looks forward... More >>
11 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 8:13:00 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Homecoming weekend is a big deal in Columbia with thousands flocking in for festivities, including tailgating prior to... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 3:35:00 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
8pm 67°
9pm 64°
10pm 63°
11pm 62°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00p
Superstore
7:30p
The Good Place
8:00p
Will & Grace
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Arrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Superstore
7:30p
The Good Place
8:00p
Will & Grace
8:31p
Great News
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Arrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld