That a dog provides comfort to owners is a given. That’s why we call them pets. But now, under the guise of subjective criteria of any physician or licensed therapist and the perceived needs of certain individuals, some are claimed as a necessity that others must tolerate in the public sphere.
Some are claiming and demanding that their pets have therapeutic impact and address an emotional disability and must accompany them on planes, at work, in restaurants, and in pet-free housing. Others claim their animals can retrieve dropped items that they can’t stoop down for, or have the uncanny and improbable talent of detecting and stopping seizures.
Please note that highly trained service animals such as seeing eye dogs actually DO something and deserve respect and access to any setting. But a clear line must be drawn when it comes to animals whose sole talent is BEING. By all means, enjoy your pet, dress it up in silly costumes, feed it from the table, and pay for its chemotherapy. But someone else’s pet provides zero social good to society at large. It will never pay taxes, teach our kids, or shovel the snow off your walk out of altruism. They have earned no dispensation or right to privilege or sacrifice from the rest of us. As one commenter queried, she derives comfort from their husband — can he fly free and sit at her feet on a plane? One’s perceived needs and wishes need not be indulged by society, or endorsed with misguided and abused rules.