Is this a scam?

frankie88frankie88 Posts: 106Registered Users
Since I moved out a year ago, I have really been missing my dachshund (She has been my best friend since I was 10, I'm 20 now) who had to stay at my parents house. I wish she could live with me. Unfortunately though, my landlord charges $450 pet deposit (doesn't take payments) and charges pet rent each month as well. I could afford the pet rent since it's $40 a month, but I can't afford the pet deposit in one payment.

So I was reading online that you can get your dog registered as an "emotional support animal" and even if they aren't trained to be a therapy dog, they are still classified as a service dog. Apparently, in that case landlords cannot charge pet deposits or deny the animal since it's a "service animal".

However, you do have to get something written up from your doctor explaining that having an emotional support animal would benefit you.

Here is the website where you register your animal ESA Registration Of America: Official Organization ESA Registration Of America

Is this true? I would almost feel like I am being dishonest by saying my dog is a therapy dog when in reality she's just a dog. But I would love to be able to actually spend time with her especially as she is getting older.
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  • PerriPPerriP Posts: 6,613Registered Users
    Therapy dogs are real things. Sometimes they are also pets. But a pet that makes you feel good emotionally is just a pet. I think that therapy dogs are necessary and exceptionally helpful for many many people. To call your dog one when he isn't one is dishonest in my opinion. only you know if you're okay with that. For me it falls into the same area as people who don't need handicapped tags for their car but use them bc they are able to get them. It makes it harder for people who need them to get them.

    If you actually need your dog as a therapy dog, that is different.

    Eta maybe you can make payments in that pet deposit to yourself until you have the full amount. But, know that the dog living with you will come with extra expenses. Food. Vet visits. A dog walker whenyou have to work late. It won't be only the $40 pet rent a month.

    Might I suggest you find an area rescue group where you can hang out with the dogs, pet them, brush them, bathe them. Love on them. It'll also give you a way to meet people

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  • spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Posts: 17,495Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Is your lease almost up? If so, I would just find another apt that accepts dogs on terms that you can afford, so everyone is happy. If not, you might discover your lease is not being renewed for some ~mysterious~ reason.

    I don't think you should feel badly about deceiving anyone...if you can meet the legal standard for needing a companion animal (I think medical documentation is required).

    But would your dog be happy moving to your apt? Maybe it would be better for you to start over w/ a different dog that no one wants rather than trying to uproot a dog that already has a home? IDK...just a thought.

  • sKorpio1190sKorpio1190 Posts: 1,862Registered Users
    I would look for an apartment that allows them or charges a lower pet deposit. It was very hard for me to find a place that let me have my dog, but not having her wasn't an option for me. She's 14 years old and has been my best friend her whole life. Leaving her behind was just not going to happen. If you have a strong bond then make it happen. However if the dog is happier at home with ur parents then I would leave her there. Since my dog is very attached to me and sleeps all day anyway since she's old, I knew she would adjust well
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  • CurlyInTheFogCurlyInTheFog Posts: 876Registered Users
    I don't want to be harsh--I love my dog as much as you love yours--but yes, it's being dishonest and fraudulent, and the worst thing is, it makes things that much more difficult for people who really need service dogs. There's a limit to what questions you can be asked to prove you have a service dog, so there are many people claiming to have service dogs when they really don't, and when those dogs growl, bark, snap, attack other dogs, etc., it makes real service dogs look bad and sometimes causes access problems. So please, unless you really do need one, don't try to get your dog certified.

    I recently read an article on this problem, and at the end they quoted a woman who said she thought it was wrong to play the system, and didn't really need her dog with her, but did it anyway. Ugh. I know people with disabilities, and they have enough trouble without having to deal with this. I think volunteering with a rescue or shelter is a great idea!
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  • pprMACHEheartpprMACHEheart Posts: 1,665Registered Users
    I say just take a month or two and save money from your checks to save up for the deposit. What 3 maybe 4 paychecks later you could have your dog from home in an honest way. No harm or foul.
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  • CamaroSDCamaroSD Posts: 1Registered Users
    I was searching for something and this thread showed up in my search, so I wanted to sign up to clear up some of the misconceptions and answer your question.

    There are different types of working dogs, and they all have different levels of training and different levels of access. They are not interchangeable. I am a service dog handler, Camaro is my son's service dog, I am very familiar with the laws regarding these 3 types of working dogs.

    Service dog: Disabled owner that is substantially limited in performing one or more major life function. Dog is specifically trained to perform a task (do work) to allow that major life function. With few exceptions can go to any public area with its handler. No certification.

    Therapy Dog: Anyone can own. Trained to be nonaggresive and well behaved, can go to hospitals, sr. centers, etc. with their permission to provide comfort and therapy to those it visits. Most places will require certification. Aside from visiting hospitals and the like is only a pet, no public access and not allowed in no pet housing.

    Emotional Support Animal: Must be a disabled owner same as service dog. Dog needs general obedience training and housebroken. Must in some way mitigate the owner's disability but does not need to be a task (comfort is acceptable here but not as a service dog). Allowed in no pet housing, and airline travel without fee, but must prove that the animal helps with a disability, doctors note, etc. No public access.

    You do not have a therapy dog or a service dog. So now for what you asked, can it be considered an ESA? Do you have a disability? If the answer is no then you cannot have an ESA. If yes then does your dog mitigate your disability? If no then again it is not an ESA.

    There is a link on ESAs from the Michigan State College of Law website on animal laws. If you think you might qualify and want more info this is a great resource. I can't post the link but search for "animallaw ovusfaqhousingand pets" and you should find it.

    Now for the topic. Is it a scam? Yes and no. Yes it is a scam in that it preys on those that are uninformed or want to cheat the system. Those registrations for ESAs and Service Dogs have no value whatsoever, they are not needed anymore than if you were 'registered' as a cell phone user. They mean exactly as much as if you wrote one up yourself using the back of a menu and a crayon. Not a scam, in the fact that there are people that are able to train their own service dogs themselves or with the help of a trainer and even though they know they do not need any certification having something "official" makes them feel better.

    I tried to keep this brief and purely factual, if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them. I hope this helped.

    Edit: Just want to add that falsely claiming a disability in order to get the benefit of a waived pet fee is federal fraud. So if you are not disabled and pass him off as an ESA and the landlord finds out he can evict you and report you for fraud and HUD could go after you.