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In your patient's apartment, I wouldn't feel bad about. 'They get to take their pet into restaurants,' I'd feel medium bad about. 'They get to take their pet to work, regardless of the allergies of other people in that workplace, and everyone else just has to figure out how to live with it' I'd feel real bad about.

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I've only ever seen this apply to apartments and airplanes.

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Can vouch for Scott here. Restaurants that do not want non-service animals in their restaurant/are interested in actually enforcing the health code don't care if they are an ESA. Restaurants where the staff go "I'm not paid enough to tell people to take their beloved dog outside" don't even ask, so the ESA status also never comes up.

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Restaurants I think I've heard of, but only second-hand. Workplace we're about to be dealing with from a transfer. I am not looking forward to it, or to the avalanche of other employees wanting to bring in their pets since X gets to.

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If it's a legitimate service animal/ESA animal for a real psychological or physical problem, it shouldn't be too bad (the animal should be trained or the person knows what is involved to make this work). If it's someone who finagled a letter from one of these online services because they want to bring Mr. Snuggles to work, that's a problem. Any news from the previous workplace about how it went?

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I think Scott makes it pretty clear that it isn't possible to sort the situations in to the two neat buckets you describe.

Moreover we can even imagine cases where the animal is *genuinely a huge help* to the person's mental state, and still has weird or terrifying downsides for other people in the vicinity.

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This is definitely not a service animal (amongst other things, I don't think they've even got seeing-eye cats). I haven't circled back with the other workplace, because this isn't my problem and I'm worried that the more I look into it, the more it may somehow become my problem 'EC-2021, you've looked into this, why don't you--' Nope, not my monkey, not my circus. Figuratively or literally.

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This whole essay is about how there is no such thing as a legit ESA. It's just a pet + $100 and a piece of paper.

ESA's are not trained. It's literally just means dog that makes me feel good to pet, which basically rounds to dog.

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I think we all agree the status quo is absurd. I guess it speaks to my particular world view that I think we should resolve this by forcing landlords to accept dogs.

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My understanding is, legally, private businesses don't actually have to accommodate emotional support animals. Practically speaking though, many people get emotional support animal documentation under the misapprehension that this entitles them to take them into private businesses without restriction, and will argue over this point with business owners. I suspect that this is only a small proportion of all people who seek ESA accommodations though; at least, anyone who'll hold that kind of argument in public probably isn't suffering from anxiety.

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May 9·edited May 9

This seems about right to me. I've seen a lot of people bringing dogs into businesses where they probably shouldn't be the past few years, for instance. Though it's hard to know if this is because they consider them emotional support animals ("rightfully" or not), or if it's just because they see other people bringing dogs everywhere and assume it's ok. Also hard to disentangle from the more general breakdown in rule following, though that's another issue itself.

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I've seen that movie in restaurants more than once. I've also seen signs on restaurants informing patrons that the ADA does not obligate them to accommodate their emotional support animals.

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I think in New York at least, it's technically illegal to take any animal other than a trained service animal into a place where food is served, and the state law doesn't make an exception for emotional support animals? A business who allows them anyway could potentially get sued by another customer.

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I think you're conflating general clinical anxiety with social anxiety. I'm fairly at ease in social situations but that doesn't stop me from having to go to the emergency room every now and then due to chest pain stemming from my anxiety disorder. Anxiety has many faces.

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May 9·edited May 9

A decade and change years ago I worked in reservations at a large hotel. As part of the training we had to do a module on service animals and ESAs, and it was always a point of humor that we were legally required to accommodate dogs, cats...and miniature horses.

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Where exactly is the boundary between miniature and full-sized horse? How large a horse can I bring into the hotel?

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I imagine if the horse can support armored barding and carry a man into battle it's too big.

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What if the man is a midget?

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How do these stat up against halfling riding dogs?

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Hell, yeah! Bring on the fury.

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May 9·edited May 9

According to http://www.guide-horse.org/faq_horses.htm, the limit is 26 inches. But that seems to be the size they accept for training, I don't know if there's a legal limit

Edited to add: Also it turns out that horse height is an idiosyncratic measure: it is to the withers (shoulder) so the head is higher than this.

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> Also it turns out that horse height is an idiosyncratic measure: it is to the withers (shoulder) so the head is higher than this.

Most animal measurements are stupid in this way. For example, animal length is conventionally measured from something like nose to anus. Though for some reason humans are measured differently.

This looks especially bad when the animal is a whale. The part of a whale that you would think of as the tail comes quite a distance after the anus.

In defense of the horse measurement, I imagine the position of a horse's head can and does move, making the measurement we actually do much easier to perform.

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Not to mention the various things that can happen to tails, thus changing the length/height.

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I think the boundary is when they tell you to get off your high horse.

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This is one of those times when I wish we could "like" comments here. This is the good stuff and I appreciate it.

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You can.

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May 9·edited May 9

34 inches at the withers (top of the shoulder / base of the neck) to qualify for the American Miniature Horse Association, though the American Miniature Horse Registry will accept up to 38 inches

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But not ponies? What if it's a ... little pony?

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It could still be a dangerous kelpie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6AWRlhrYbk

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I think life spoiled me; that almost feels like a furry "Succession" prequel fanfic...

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Miniature horses for the blind is a thing. Some people are allergic to dogs or dog phobic, so there are fully trained guide horses, and apparently they work pretty well.

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May 9·edited May 9

Horses are infamous for their fragile dispositions and tendency to spook at inoffensive, inanimate objects.

Those traits seem like they'd be absolutely disqualifying in a guide animal. Do you know anything about this? Have docility and stoicism been ruthlessly bred into the guide horses?

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Well, I only know what I just read on http://www.guide-horse.org/faq_training.htm

under "How do you train a Guide horse not to "spook"?" which is that they desensitize them - and the problem is not new, since cavalry and police horses have the same issue. I would guess that a decent fraction fail out for this reason. Guide horses do not seem to have been around for long enough to be bred for stoicism, but I don't know what was criteria were used to breed from the miniature horses that they source from - other than size.

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The problem isn't new, but it's also not easy to deal with. To my understanding, one of the primary strengths of war elephants was that they can't be charged by cavalry - regardless of how easily the cavalry could beat the elephants, horses just won't approach them.

You can solve that by accustoming your warhorses to elephants. That works and it was done. But to do that, you have to have elephants to subject the horses to.

I've seen someone in a discussion of horse behavior complain about the tendency to spook at things like "the old rusted-out tractor that hasn't moved in six years, but it's extra scary today" (paraphrased), which drew a lot of commentary along the lines of "yeah......". This kind of thing makes me squeamish about the idea of relying on a guide horse.

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" since cavalry and police horses have the same issue"

Happened just a fortnight ago with horses of the Household Cavalry:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2kLMpNDZCc

Allegedly the miniature horses are bred from, amongst others, pit ponies so they might have the traits of docility built in. I have no idea, though.

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Surely if they managed to get horses to do useful tasks in WWI, they must be pretty trainable with loud mechanical noises around? I think there were also mine horses?

My neighborhood has feral horses, which seem indifferent to cars, but spook if a person approaches on foot, so it seems to be very much dependent on what they're most used to.

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OK, but do you need your guide horse more when you're in a familiar context or an unfamiliar one?

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And yet historically there have been many warhorses. There's a lot that proper breeding and training can accomplish.

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Yes, but I've already mentioned sidethread that warhorses still spook at unfamiliar circumstances, and this was a common cause of military problems. Obviously there was a lot of investment in preventing this, but it happened anyway.

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How about guide cats for the blind?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je4A6S2jYdA

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Thanks for posting that - it's hilarious :-)

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May 9·edited May 9

Oh I didn't question it - horses seem pretty smart. But the image of a dainty little shetland with a yellow "service animal" harness on, clip-clopping through the lobby and leaving little shetland horse-poos on the shiny floors as it guided its blind owner was so incongruous as to be really funny. Plus, someone would inevitably suggest installing a hitching post and water trough next to the valet station with all the Teslas and other fancy cars.

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Funnily enough this kind of happened on the office park I used to work in - this was before Tesla, but there were plenty of mercs and BMWs. It was a tech hub, but there was a traveller pitch site nearby, and one of the travellers used to illegally graze his horses on the green areas in the office park. It was only on a tether, and sometimes used to escape.

They actually built a new route with a separate cycle/footpath/bridleway connected to the park, and I used to joke about commuting by horse.

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I don't know if this is the place to link Limerick's contribution to world culture, but (note the warning about "this video is intended for a mature audience") - Horse Outside:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljPFZrRD3J8

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Horses actually have some decent advantages over dogs for guiding the blind or helping people with mobility issues. They're a bit larger and sturdier, for one, and they also live about twice as long as dogs, so the money/time it takes to train them has better ROI.

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Blind people who aren't in a hurry should get Galapagos tortoises. Large, sturdy, and live a thousand times longer than dogs.

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There was a fun SNL sketch about that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq8Xlbb3bOw

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I thought airlines had cut down on this tolerance a few years ago; is it still the case?

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I fly a lot (30-50 flight segments per year) and have seen maybe one animal on a plane and two in an airport over the last 3 years, though I wasn't particularly looking out for them. I guess if you're very allergic that might still be slightly annoying but the biggest problem is that people still -- even after covid -- like to violently cough all over you inside the airplane.

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May 9·edited May 9

Yeah ~6 years ago a guy had a fucking LARGE German Shepherd (not even a normal one) in the middle seat with him. In coach. So the thing was literally all over my legs/feet and the other passengers. And he was jsut like "this isn't bothering you is it?" Which was fucking ridiculous.

I have hated these people ever since, but luckily since COVID I have barely seen any.

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A large German shepherd is an above average middle seat neighbor, to be honest.

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May 9·edited May 9

No it was a full sized man+ a German Shepherd.

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So the answer to "man or bear?" in this case is "man or German Shepherd?" and pick "German Shepherd" 😀

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I would have probably enjoyed that, actually, but I can certainly see how it could be a problem.

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Is this referring to Snakes on a Plane?

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I was so disappointed when I couldn't take my snake with me on a plane when moving from California to Pennsylvania. I ended up having to send her in the mail (presumably, shipped on a different plane).

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How do you move on a plane? As someone who's made similar cross-country moves a few times, it's always involved driving for me, if for no other reason than "if I don't drive, I have to ship my car, which will cost a lot and then I end up at my destination without a car for the crucial first few days." Add up the costs of shipping the car, taking a plane, and renting a car at the other end, and you're probably not saving money over just moving by car.

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In Florida, there are prominent signs in front of grocery store entrances indicating that ESAs are not service animals and not allowed in, citing the relevant state law. It’s definitely become an issue in other businesses.

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I don't think we need snakes on a plane.

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May 9·edited May 9

If the human leaves the ESA home alone, isolated, naked and afraid (when the Roomba fires up), could that not potentially make matters worse (for the ESA *and* for the guilt of the ESA's human)? And should that scenario be part of the rubric for the emotional support animal evaluation?

The ESA may not care the human works, may even experience relief, but may not. Potential solutions to ESA isolation include ESA daycare (but then the human is left working for daycare), or one of those Roomba things on Kickstarter that provides stimulation for pets instead of doing housework (but what if the KS campaign goes long- or fails?).

An ESA that needed stimulation but left home during working hours may come to wish someone would just take it and a 12 gauge out behind the shed.

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I work for the government, and we have ESA around. I have ... mixed feelings about it.

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founding

It only officially applies in a few places like those two. But normal people don't memorize the complete list, and normal people in low-level public-facing service or retail positions really internalize "the customer is always right, or else the boss will yell at me".

Result, I distinctly recall a news magazine article by a woman who went around seeing if she could get increasingly ridiculous "emotional support animals" into increasingly ridiculous places. E.g, and IIRC, an Emotional Support Llama in a restaurant. Almost nobody offered a hard "No" until the ridiculosity reached the level of e.g. an Emotional Support Crocodile.

When I tried to find this article via Google, I learned that Emotional Support Llamas are now a Thing.

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I think those last two only apply for service animals, AFAIK.

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May 9·edited May 9

"Laws prohibit employment discrimination because of a disability. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation. Allowing an individual with a disability to have a service animal or an emotional support animal accompany them to work may be considered an accomadation." https://adata.org/guide/service-animals-and-emotional-support-animals

Not vouching for accuracy, merely what is being stated by advocates.

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A lot of that is leaning on the word "may" to cover what's lacking. There is an interactive process when dealing with the ADA, and an employer can suggest or even require an alternative accommodation that allows the employee to complete the job. If the employee *can* complete the functions of the job without their requested accommodation, the employer doesn't have to offer the accommodation.

A lot of people have been pushing those boundaries and it's easier for employers to give in when the requirement is not too intrusive.

The employer can also determine that a function of a job is required, and deny employment to someone who cannot complete that function.

For an easy example, a person who worked at heights who said they needed an emotional support dog could almost certainly be denied, as the dog working at a height would be an issue. Even clearer, working in a clean environment (manufacturing clean room, allergy department at a hospital) could absolutely deny the accommodation.

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May 9·edited May 9

I don't doubt any of this, but in our situation another office made the 'sure, we can accommodate that' decision and now the employee is transferring to our division. It's going to be really hard to claim we can't accommodate it, as it's the same job, just in a different office building. And I'm not massively concerned so long as it remains this one person, but then again, I'm not allergic to cats...

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If you were allergic to cats, that would be extremely relevant. You don't have to offer accommodations that are literally incompatible with other employees' health. That's the sort of situation where any sane HR department will bend over backwards to offer an alternative accomodation.

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Yeah, from an overall employer perspective that's going to be very difficult to deny, unless there are relevant factors different between the two areas.

One potentially relevant factor would be allergies among existing employees. At that stage the employer is dealing with two potentially incompatible accommodations and may need to find a significantly different solution, such as offering one or both employees alternate assignments, or something like an air purifier.

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Did you read Scott’s article on Civil Rights laws? Reasonable Accommodation law is by far the most complicated and confusing of them. Any time an emotional support animal is requested, you need to do an interactive process with the employee to determine if the accommodation would be effective or if a less disruptive accommodation is possible. This involves getting documentation from the doctor, and bargaining back and forth on whether another accommodation would be effective. Would a stuffed animal work? A room with better lighting?

The employer can also argue it is an undue hardship, which is the most common route, but the law on that is very complex. Coworkers having dog allergies is a good one, hygiene is another good one, nowhere to have it urinate and dedicate is another. But that is also interactive. The employee could reply, what if I stayed at work an extra half hour and then in the middle of the day lengthened my breaks by 15 minutes so I could walk to the park and back. Oh and this whole process has to be done in 30 days.

In truth, I’ve never even seen a case where an employer denied an Emotional Support Animal, and then lost a lawsuit over it. But you never know if you will be the first and just the pain and expense of litigation is substantial.

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There was a blind guy worked for the local council and he brought his dog everywhere (including, I imagine, to work) so in some cases I think the employer *would* have to permit the animal or make accommodations for the employee to have it around.

But just asking if your ESA crocodile can come to the office does seem like it would be in the employer's favour to refuse.

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Yes, I was specifically talking about Emotional Support Animals. Service Animals, such as for blind people, are even harder to restrict, though theoretically possible

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May 9·edited May 9

The main thing I know about disabilities law is ~20 years ago I was working somewhere where the ground floor was all showroom with a half dozen offices upstairs and only stairs to get up to them.

And this woman applied for a job there, came and interviewed and walked up and down the stairs just fine for the interviews, proceeded to be bad at her job and do no work. When called on this and put under discipline she then sued the company and they had to spend ~$2million putting in an elevator for her (because of debilitating back pain allegedly), and halt disciplinary proceedings despite her still not having done her job after like six months. And then another six months after that when the damn elevator was finally finished at great cost/disruption she abruptly quit and maybe had only ever used the damn thing like twice.

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Well, a math professor of my acquaintance was presented with a letter from a student and a demand that he allow the student to bring her emotional support bat to class. An emotional support bat, not gonna lie.

What I want to know is how this works with another student who is terrified of flying mammals and gets triggered by the mere presence of the emotional support bat? I get triggered by dogs.

Too long, I tell you, too long has the feline community been forced to confront this injustice! Right the wrongs!

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Ah, sweet flittermouse! But yeah, bringing your bat to class is taking the piss. Though the bat could well be smarter than the student and thus gain more from the lectures.

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Good point. What if the emotional support bat is providing an unfair advantage?

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How do we know the bat is not the one secretly memorising the information and then passing it on to the student during exams?

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Zackly.

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At this point, it’s the bat-student unit that you’re training. You don’t make the student take the exam without their eyeglasses, do you?

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So which is the owner and which is the pet, then? If Bat Masterson wants a university education, let them sign up for it in their own right and not be exploiting a poor dumb college student!

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What's more exciting about this is the prospect of student-student units. "Hi, we're Johndoug. We're taking four math classes this semester as a student-student unit, here's one standard tuition." And then they walk off, stuck together from hip to ear.

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"What I want to know is how this works with another student who is terrified of flying mammals and gets triggered by the mere presence of the emotional support bat? I get triggered by dogs. "

The conservationists might be able to help here!

"When One Protected Species Kills Another, What Are Conservationists to Do?"

-- Scientific American, June 2019

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A girl at uni routinely brought her possum (australian possum, significantly cuter than the north american opossum) to lectures and tutorials.

It was fairly small at the time and she mostly kept it in her cleavage as it was both nocturnal and required extra warmth since it was still a baby.

Nobody seemed concerned, and most people liked having it around. The girls thought the possum baby was cute and the boys, ahem, enjoyed the view...

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Someone renting a nominally "pet-free" apartment and having to live with a yappy dog next door isn't amazing...

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Does ESA status expire? If not, this should at least mitigate almost all aspects of the (admittedly infuriating) problem.

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Ugh. Googled quickly. It typically expires every 12 months. Of course it does.

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It's better than having the ESA expire every 12 months, especially if it's legally mandated.

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Technically yes, but practically speaking, if you're using it to bypass landlord bullshit, once you've shown them paperwork when you move in, nobody ever asks for it again, so in reality it expires once every however frequently you move.

Presumably if using it for flying you would need to keep it more up to date, but that seems like such an excessively stressful situation that I'd bet less than 1% of people who get an ESA use it for that.

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At least in California, the letters are only good for a year and the professional has to say that the patient has been under their care for at least 30 days.

But if you try to get rid of a tenant with an expired ESA letter (or force them to get rid of the pet), you are really playing with fire. I've done it once and it thankfully settled.

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May 9·edited May 9

There was an incident in RI last month where an ESA pitbull killed and partially ate another dog at an apartment complex. No doubt one of many such incidents. I hadn't heard of the aspect of evaluating safety before. It seems like there must be some sort of protection for the authors of these letters, particularly those churning them out for such low fees, or the lawyers would have bankrupted them by now. Is that the case?

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My understanding (IANAL) is that the prescribing doctor isn't liable. The sites I read say that the doctor just prescribed a pet, and it's the patient's fault that they picked a bad one. But all the psych literature says you should also evaluate the patient's specific pet for behavioral issues. Maybe this is just a courtesy and not legally necessary?

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My ESA letter has language about the pet and its behavior being my sole responsibility. Presumably this is them covering their asses, but I'm unsure if it has any legal weight.

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May 9·edited May 9

I looked up some sample letters online (all from sites swearing they're legit and all others are fakes) and it seems a very grey area.

One site's sample letter did require you to put in the name, breed and weight of the pet, so if you are trying to certify that Patient really does need their Emotional Support rhino, I think that the emanation of a penumbra of "why the hell did you give a letter for a rhino in a small apartment up five flights of stairs?"responsibility might hover round your head:

https://fastesaletter.com/emotional-support-animal-letter-sample/

On the other hand, another site's letter is just "Patient needs their pet" with no mention of what type of pet it is, so I suppose you might get away with "but they never informed me they were going to go out and get a rhino":

https://esadoctors.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Sample-travel-ESA-letter-e1556728226865.png

EDIT: Gosh, there are a plethora of sites out there offering these services, but this one seems to have some factual information:

https://esadoctors.com/emotional-support-animal-letter/

"An ESA letter should also contain the licensed healthcare professional’s signature and license number. It’s important to note that an ESA letter does not name the client’s specific diagnosis or provide detailed information about their condition or medical history. Under HUD’s rules, tenants have a right to privacy regarding sensitive information regarding their mental health.

An ESA letter may or may not have specific details regarding the ESAs themselves (i.e., their names, breed, size, etc.). This is because not all healthcare professionals are capable of verifying these characteristics of the client’s ESA. An ESA letter can also be issued prior to the client actually adopting their emotional support animal. An ESA letter is a recommendation on the part of the licensed healthcare professional, not a verification letter of the specific attributes of the animal that will serve as the client’s emotional support animal.

An ESA letter should be signed but does not have to be notarized. Housing providers also cannot insist that licensed healthcare professionals use a specific form or insist that the healthcare professional make statements under penalty of perjury. HUD instituted these guidelines to stop landlords from denying ESA accommodations by putting up additional barriers to tenants who had submitted appropriate ESA letters."

So you're not obliged to put in "I recommend that Jon Jonnson get his Emotional Support rhino", just that Jon would benefit from having an ESA. If he then goes out and gets a rhino, well, that's nothing to do with you.

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Okay, there is genuine official guidance out there! From the Department of Housing in 2020 regarding service and assistance animals:

https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/6660/hud-notice-fheo-2020-1-assessing-a-request-to-have-an-animal-as-a-reasonable-accommodation/

"Description

This notice explains certain obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) with respect to animals that individuals with disabilities may request as reasonable accommodations."

https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/PA/documents/HUDAsstAnimalNC1-28-2020.pdf

This is more to help landlords deciding if an animal is a pet or not, but there is sample of what is considered a reasonable animal (if you really need your rhino, you need to make that case) and what the mental health professionals should include in the recommendation letters. They're very adamant that an assistance animal is *not* a pet, and that merely companionship, etc. are not reasons to get the classification as an assistance/therapeutic support animal, but there seems to be a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to the "therapeutic" part:

"Assisting a person with mental illness to leave the isolation of home or to interact with others,

• Enabling a person to deal with the symptoms or effects of major depression by providing a reason to live, or

• Providing emotional support that alleviates at least one identified symptom or effect of a physical or mental impairment."

"As a best practice, documentation – typically a short letter - that is being requested as part of a reasonable accommodation is recommended to include:

Patient name

Whether the health care professional has a professional relationship with that patient/client involving the provision of health care or disability-related services

The type of animal(s) for which the reasonable accommodation is sought

Whether the patient has a physical or mental impairment

Whether the patient’s impairment(s) substantially limit at least one major life activity or major bodily function, and

Whether the patient needs the animal(s) to do work, provide assistance, perform at least one task that benefits the patient, or provide therapeutic emotional support related specifically to the disability. For example, a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure for a person who has seizure disorder, and helps that person remain safe during the seizure is an example of an animal that does work to benefit that person specifically related to their disability. Alternatively, a cat, while not trained to perform a specific task, may provide assistance to a person with anxiety by helping the person deal with the symptoms of or alleviate disability-related stress—this is an example of an animal that provides therapeutic emotional support specifically related to an individual’s disability."

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You would not be able to sue for much anyway. Sadly, the law treats pets as property, and their value is limited to the actual money value, irrespective of emotional value.

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Well, in this case it was a dog that was attacked but 4.5 million times a year it's a human. The incident in RI reminded me of that somewhat viral video from a few years ago in Colombia where she was also attacked in an elevator by a pitbull and almost lost an arm, then the vid from last week in Philly, etc. It seems like even if it was a dog on dog attack the owner here would have a strong case for suffering/distress civil damages after her watching her dog disemboweled and eaten in front of her.

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I also think it would be difficult to sue the doctor who authored the ESA certification, because the doctor is not qualified to evaluate, nor is she or he assuming a duty to evaluate, the safety of the dog itself. The only “treatment” being provided by the doctor is answering the question of whether this patient requires an emotional support animal. The responsibility for an attack and injury rests with the dog’s owner- who many times doesn’t even have insurance so you’re SOL even if you successfully sue.

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I would hope that these doctors aren't dumb enough to prescribe a specific pet, as opposed to something vague and general like "my patient needs to have an emotional support animal for X reason and under Y circumstances." By not endorsing the specific animal that should alleviate much, maybe all, potential liability. Case law around pets is pretty clear that some pets are considered safe and normal, so there's no presumption that, for instance, all dogs are potentially a menace and lead to liability concerns.

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From Scott’s description it sounds like part of the process is evaluating the specific animal; nobody gets “prescribed” a new pet, but rather a certification for an existing pet.

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The HUD gave guidance on what kinds of animals may be classed as service or assistance animals:

"Animals commonly kept in households.

If the animal is a dog, cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, other rodent, fish, turtle, or other small, domesticated animal that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes, then the reasonable accommodation should be granted because the requestor has provided information confirming that there is a disability related need for the animal.

For purposes of this assessment, reptiles (other than turtles), barnyard animals, monkeys, kangaroos, and other non-domesticated animals are not considered common household animals.

Unique animals.

If the individual is requesting to keep a unique type of animal that is not commonly kept in households as described above, then the requestor has the substantial burden of demonstrating a disability-related therapeutic need for the specific animal or the specific type of animal. The individual is encouraged to submit documentation from a health care professional confirming the need for this animal, which includes information of the type set out in the Guidance on Documenting an Individual’s Need for Assistance Animals in Housing. While this guidance does not establish any type of new documentary threshold, the lack of such documentation in many cases may be reasonable grounds for denying a requested accommodation. If the housing provider enforces a “no pets” policy or a policy prohibiting the type of animal the individual seeks to have, the housing provider may take reasonable steps to enforce the policy if the requester obtains the animal before submitting reliable documentation from a health care provider that reasonably supports the requestor’s disability-related need for the animal. As a best practice, the housing provider should make a determination promptly, generally within 10 days of receiving documentation.

Reasonable accommodations may be necessary when the need for a unique animal involves unique circumstances …

Examples:

• The animal is individually trained to do work or perform tasks that cannot be performed by a dog.

• Information from a health care professional confirms that:

o Allergies prevent the person from using a dog; or

o Without the animal, the symptoms or effects of the person’s disability will be significantly increased.

• The individual seeks to keep the animal outdoors at a house with a fenced yard where the animal can be appropriately maintained.

Example: A Unique Type of Support Animal

An individually trained capuchin monkey performs tasks for a person with paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury. The monkey has been trained to retrieve a bottle of water from the refrigerator, unscrew the cap, insert a straw, and place the bottle in a holder so the individual can get a drink of water. The monkey is also trained to switch lights on and off and retrieve requested items from inside cabinets. The individual has a disability-related need for this specific type of animal because the monkey can use its hands to perform manual tasks that a service dog cannot perform."

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The worst ones are probably fly-by-night operations that just take the money and give you a letter, no questions asked, so good luck trying to track them down for legal liability afterwards (and they probably have some fine print that they were relying on what the applicant said and it was up to the applicant to be honest, in order to dodge responsibility).

The respectable or semi-respectable ones probably aren't venal enough to write you a letter for your ESA pitbull.

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I actually got denied adderall from one of those online services because I was naive enough to answer honestly. I actually do seem to have ADHD since I now have adderall and it helps exactly the way it’s supposed to. But doctors don’t prescribe for ADHD if you are depressed even if the depression is obviously caused by winter and Covid lockdowns.

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deletedMay 9
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That... is not how logic works.

Popular claim: Adderall causes Focus in ADHD people.

Reality: Adderall causes Focus in everyone.

Galaxy-brained but wrong claim: If Adderall causes Focus in you, you do not have ADHD (which is the same as the negation of the popular claim, that Aderall *doesn't* cause Focus in ADHD people).

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When I was in college, I saw this made as a completely serious claim, along the lines of:

* Painkillers kill pain in people who are in pain.

* Painkillers do not kill pain in people who are not in pain.

* The effect is different depending on whether or not you have pain.

* ADHD drugs have the exact same effect on ADHD people and non-ADHD people.

* Therefore, unlike pain, ADHD is not a real condition.

This was one of many arguments presented by this article in favor of the thesis that ADHD is not a legitimate diagnosis. (Not so much "you don't have ADHD" as "no one truly has ADHD because it doesn't exist.") It was interesting stuff, and I wish I could find it again now.

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You may be interested in Scott's Ontology Of Psychiatric Conditions series.

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Sounds to me like it's psychiatry that's the racket. Or, at least, **the practice of psychiatry under the social and legal conditions that prevail in the U.S. necessary entangle it with many rackety things**, emotional support animals merely being one of many examples.

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author

I don't know how you draw that conclusion from this post.

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You listed two rackets that psychiatry is essential to in this very post.

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Lawyers are essential to a huge number of rackets, including every racket in this post (since that's who drafts the laws). Is the law therefore a racket?

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I was pointing out how one could draw that conclusion from this post. Also, yes.

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I think another conclusion you could draw is that all of society is a racket, and therefore rackets are actually good!

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Or rather that "rackets" defined in this way is too broad a category to be particularly useful

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I can't tell - are you arguing, or stating the obvious?

There are non-racket uses of the law, but I think that, on the margin, the law is very much a racket.

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What are the alternatives?

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I think the law and the government that enforces the law are both rackets. And I also think there is no alternative. Unlike libertarians, I don't think reducing laws will necessarily help anything, because most of them were put in place to prevent private rackets. There is no solution, or rather, the solution is to learn to live with suffering

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"Is the law therefore a racket?"

Pretty much, yes.

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Maybe 60% of it? A huge amount of legal work is literally just protecting you from enemy lawyers. If no one had lawyers there would be wildly less need for them.

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As with the often fair attacks on civil rights law, I think takes like these don't give enough consideration to the problems with the status quo ante that caused the current protection measures, imperfect though they are, to be implemented.

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Absolutely. This is why I reject libertarianism and minarchism, in a nut shell. Reducing the size and power of the government will just open the way for worse, less accountable people to seize that power.

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"For someone who doesn't like lawyers, you sure keep a lot of them around."

"Listen, lawyers are like nuclear weapons. You got yours, so I gotta have mine. But the minute one of us pulls the trigger on them, the whole world goes to shit!"

--Dialogue exchange (roughly paraphrased) from "Other People's Money."

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I'm assuming they're talking about the plethora of entitlements given to the "disabled" under flimsy pretenses? Legally mandated accommodations, anti-discrimination laws, stuff like that.

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Anything can be a racket. Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

Why not say it's the legal system that's a racket? Lawyers are easy pickings for such things.

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When we were looking for a landlord while owning a cat, our landlord said they had police people living there and it's much worse than just a small cat. (not USA)

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Police people? Sorry, I don’t follow.

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Cops.

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May 9·edited May 9

I still don’t follow. Do cops present dangers to cats? The landlord found the police undesirable as tenants? Is this a known punchline?

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Violent corrupt authoritarians make bad tenants.

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How so

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It seems pretty clear to me that violent people make for bad tenants, both due to property damage (e.g. putting a fist through a wall) and due to making other tenants feel unsafe.

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Don't feed the trolls.

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My experience is that the best tenant is a reputationally-motivated rule-follower with a secure salary who stands to lose when colliding with the established authorities. Having law enforcement in the building and neighborhood also makes other tenants and neighbors feel secure and drives off the sorts of tenants you really don't want—criminals.

Certainly there is an argument that the guy who has a maybe-not-entirely-genuine medical marijuana Rx, or the lady who is keeping a cat that isn't permitted under the lease, will be made uncomfortable. But these are fringe tenants, not very desirable even if they have other good qualities.

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The claim many libertarians will make is that most people engage in some behavior that is legally questionable, and are made uncomfortable by the presence of cops. Same way that kids are embarrassed by having their parents around.

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I read this and imagined a uniformed Emotional Support Officer in a stab vest reassuring the patient with their presence.

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The majority of housing where landlords are involved is the sort where the tenant next door having a dog is bad for one's mental health. Having a dog, oneself, only compounds the problem.

If the law were that every ESA has to have its vocal cords surgically removed, we could debate if that's humane but at least it would be in the 'mental health' direction.

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When I found miniature ponies are a legitimate service animal (but that you need two or they become distressed)… well, thank God I met my wife shortly after that and she doesn’t find that as funny as I do.

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How does that work with the landlord part of things? Surely nobody's keeping a miniature pony in their apartment?

I aspire to someday own an emotional support alpaca, but apparently they're supposed to be kept in trios

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Get a small carriage and offer them rides. Can’t fail.

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I need a few dairy cows to help with my anorexia, all that milk and butter keeps me weight-stable.

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They should also keep you in a good moood.

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That comment certainly helped, though I'm a bit miffed that I didn't think of it myself.

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I'm quite certain there are people who keep a pony in their 300 square foot apartment, judging by the number of inappropriately-sized dogs in apartments.

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Apparently miniature horses can be the size of large dogs, so if you can wangle it to keep a large dog in the rented property, why not a miniature horse?

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Its very appropriate that this follows the discussion about discrimination law because it seems to stem from the same issue with overregulation and failure to fully consider all the costs and imperfect implementation that go along with legally mandating something.

Unfortunately, I fear this may be an insoluble problem in a democracy. The issue is that it's just not in the voter's interests to vote based on what policies make the world better but, rather, to vote based on what best advertises their values and expresses their feelings. A problem social media has only made worse. You advertise that you care about disabled people by supporting laws which make it illegal not to accommodate them or, when the pendulum swings back, laws which signal you think emotional support animals are bs by completely banning them and at no point to the incentivizes favor really weighing likely consequences much.

My best solution is to make voting more indirect (eg original electoral college but make electors your actual city/state legislators so they can't become purely a formality). But that's still not great.

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A meaningful federalism (with sub-entities actually competing for people to live in) might be a solution, but I suspect this is not at all realistic.

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Or outright splitting into more countries.

All hail city states!

(I put my money where my mouth is, and moved to Singapore.)

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I was the one stumping for city states earlier, but you have indeed outdone me.

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Singapore is the promised land!

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How's local fertility?

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About what you expect from a big, rich city in he developed world at the moment.

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May 17·edited May 17

This. Splitting into more countries is the only solution that doesn't make my skin crawl.

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Feel free to vote with your feet by also moving to a smaller, or at least more federated country.

Switzerland is pretty good at both being small-ish, and leaving her states lots of of authority.

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I wish. For cultural and personal reasons I would be racked with guilt if I left my family behind in this country. Hell, It would feel very weird to live more then 500 miles away from my siblings, even if I was in the same country. Enjoy your freedom.

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Fair enough, we all have to make our trade-offs and compromises.

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I'm not sure it does - in the areas where local laws control things we end up, rather than getting a diversity of approaches, getting some municipalities in a race to be maximally exclusive (e.g. Atherton) while others are either stuck with the poor people and problems (e.g. detroit) or just too ideological to function (San Francisco). There's relatively little race for comparative advantage in preferential policies going on.

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Per David Schleicher there's negligible partisan competition in cities because politics has become so nationalized that everyone chooses their party on the national level and hardly pays attention to the local level. https://volokh.com/posts/chain_1228735775.shtml https://www.econlib.org/archives/2008/12/whats_wrong_wit_7.html Eliminating the national level would change that.

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Is your assumption that no one getting to have pets in their apartments is a better world?

This seems to me like a case where capital is making the world a lot worse, and regulation is opening a loophole to help some of those people.

As Scott said, this would be less of a problem if the housing industry were so healthy that landlords were competing for tenants and had to offer attractive perks like allowing pets. But that's far from the state of things in most cities.

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No, it would be better if people got to have pets in an apartment if and only if the owner of said apartment allows.

Capital isn't making the world worse here, nobody would be better off if the capital in question (the apartments) didn't exist.

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People would be better off if they were not owned by capitalists, and instead by the occupants.

And if your next line is something like 'but they wouldn't have been built if the capitalists couldn't make money off them'... then yeah, that's part of the point.

Wealth inequality is so great that only a tiny cabal of elites can build anything of value, and they will only do so if they can use it to exploit everyone else to their own gain. The result is that our societal wealth and productivity is directed towards building systems that benefit the populace to only the barest level required to get their money.

Which, again, can work ok in very liquid markets with lots of competition. But works very poorly for things like real estate and housing.

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Most people own a home, it's not a tiny cabal whose wealth corresponds to the cost of building a home.

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A bare majority, yes, but something like 38% still rent.

But my point wasn't about who owns a home, it was about who has the ability to build new housing.

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May 9·edited May 9

The vast majority of the 38% who rent will be owners later in life. Being a tenant is just a stage of life.

And some of those 38% are themselves landlords (own in one place, rent in another).

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I'm honestly trying to understand your point, but I'm confused. You said

"People would be better off if they were not owned by capitalists, and instead by the occupants."

I interpreted that as meaning "People would be better off if the occupants owned the apartments."

That's home ownership, albeit not a single-family home.

But home ownership doesn't always make sense. People may not have enough cash on hand to buy a home, even if that is just one apartment. They may not want to get a mortgage at that particular time in their lives. And even if they do want to get a mortgage, doing so comes with its own costs (fees and taxes). If you can't or don't want to commit to owning the same home for a while then you may not recover those fees and taxes unless housing prices go up considerably. In some markets that might be the case, but it's still risky. The housing market is weird.

Plus, when you own a home, you liable for all the repairs. The cost of repairs goes into rent, of course, but it can still be time consuming and stressful to find a repairman that you trust, and sometimes costs go up unexpectedly. Having a landlord that is responsible for dealing with all of that can provide peace of mind.

Then you say that your point isn't really about who can afford to buy a home, but who can afford to build new housing. But all of the above still applies. You still have to have a lot of cash on hand or be willing to take on a mortgage, with all that entails. And if we are talking about multi-unit dwellings and not single-family homes, then you have to have even more cash, or take on an even bigger mortgage, to build a bunch of units you won't occupy (in which case, you become a landlord), or somehow coordinate with people who are willing to share the cost of construction and then occupy all the units. But that's a huge coordination problem, because everything I said above about home ownership still applies, except now it applies to dozens, if not hundreds, of people who are strangers to one another and who may not want to enter into the type of legally binding cooperative agreement to build an apartment build that would be required to make that work.

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> People would be better off if they were not owned by capitalists, and instead by the occupants.

This is offtopic, but it took me a second reading before I realized you weren't talking about slavery and multiple personalities. :-)

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May 9·edited May 9

A modest proposal going in exactly the opposite direction: split the concept of home ownership down the middle. Specifically, decouple responsibility for the bricks and mortar from the right to collect the rent.

Hear me out: the tenant shouldn't be forced to move out before the landlord can sell. Short of altering the structure of the building, the tenant should be able to do what they like to the property they live in - the cost of restoring it to a sellable state when they end their tenancy can be priced in and/or insured against. It shouldn't matter to the tenant whether their landlord is a rich individual, a giant faceless corporation or a government.

Meanwhile, it shouldn't matter to the landlord whether a tenant wants to paint their room red or yellow, pin up a poster, change the curtains, have their friend stay over, or own a pet; or, indeed, who the tenant is or whether it's the same person paying rent today as yesterday (provided they do pay rent).

When a landlord buys to let, to a first approximation, they have a lump sum and/or leverage that they want to put to work - what they want is to turn this into a revenue stream; that is, they want to buy a recurring payment and also some risk, a bet on being able to sell the revenue stream to the next landlord along in the future for a profit.

When a tenant rents a place, meanwhile, they want to live their life there - they want to be able to decorate and furnish their living environment as they please, they want to be able to share it with who and what they please, and they don't want to be kicked out and have to find another place on the landlord's whim.

Maybe not all tenancies should look like this. It's reasonable for the retired person renting out their spare room to want a say over what goes on there. But when a house is purchased by someone who do not themselves plan to live there - indeed, only interact with it between tenants, if at all - they really shouldn't get much control over the people who do.

Let landlords buy and sell the revenue streams they actually want to, without having to bother with the burdensome reality of owning a physical house and dealing with the actual people living in it. Let tenants live in rented property how they want, for as long as they want, without being unreasonably restricted or kicked out, provided they can afford the rent. It's simpler all around.

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Georgist economics says letting landlords buy and sell revenue streams is the root problem, proposes fully centralizing that sort of rent-collection in a form that's accountable to the voting public, and decoupling it from more personalized property-management services. Possibly redistributing the revenue as UBI.

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May 9·edited May 9

Historical experience shows over and over that free markets work better for making resource distribution decisions than central planning.

The worst problems arise when some of the participants are not free to shop around or walk away (as, e.g., with urgent healthcare decisions); the property market, tight and terrible as it currently is, is not yet in that place. The way forward, therefore, is surely to manage externalities and reduce the trade to its essence as much as possible.

As a user, when my ISP, telephone company, credit card provider etc tells me another company has bought them, I don't actually care: I still get the same service for the same price.

Meanwhile, the ISP shouldn't get to control what sites I visit, the credit card provider shouldn't get to control what I spend money on, the telephone company shouldn't get to control who I call; if they attempt this, I walk away. My ability to do so depends on there being a market for these things, with many participants; if there was only one, centralised, supplier, they would have more control over what I can do, not less.

If I am a tenant, I am buying housing as a service, and a change of landlord shouldn't affect me. The extent to which it does is a failure of the market and legislative environment. The landlord shouldn't get much say in how I use the service. The extent to which they do is a failure of the market and legislative environment. At least, though, if it gets really miserable, I do still have the option to look for somewhere else. Having only one, centralised, landlord would remove this.

Meanwhile, given the current shape of the world and the experience of the last decade or two of politics, I have very little trust in accountability to the voting public being any kind of strong driver of outcomes that align with my preferences. IME I am much more likely to be able to get things closer to what I want if there exists a large set of things to choose between than if there is one thing I allegedly have some tiny nebulous influence over.

IMO the problem with the housing rental market is that we treat it as one market, whereas it should be two separate ones. The landlord market for trading lump sums and revenue streams should be decoupled, as much as possible, from the tenant market for housing-as-a-service; just the same way that when we buy anything-else-as-a-service we don't have to concern ourselves with who the shareholders of the company we're getting the service from are or what trading decisions they make day to day; and neither do they care about us, save perhaps in aggregate.

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> Georgist economics says letting landlords buy and sell revenue streams is the root problem

As a card carrying Georgist, this isn't correct. The root problem is that the price the landlord is able to charge for rent is in large part a product of the land value cause by the improvements created and paid for by the community surrounding the parcel of land. ie, if a parcel of land is next to a train station it will be worth a lot more, but what the landlord is effectively charging rent for is proximity to public transit that they didn't build (read: aren't taxed on proportional to the value they're able to extract from the improvement). Georgists have no complaint with a property developer building a massive apartment building next to a train station and then selling that building to a landlord. The issue is that the revenue stream for that property is a combination of the land rent and the building rent. We have no issue with the landlord acting as a property manager and charging the rents required to cover the loans for the construction, property upkeep, some profit margin, etc, but it makes no sense that they capture the land rent from the train station.

The prototypical case of this is the landlord who finds out that a train station will be built in X location in 5 years, and buys an empty lot next to location X. The next year when the construction of the train station becomes public knowledge, the value of their land doubles because the market correctly prices in how much more demand there will be to live there. At this point they sell the empty lot to a developer for a tidy profit, having done absolutely nothing to create value in the process. A Georgist economist would say that the land speculator's profit in that case should be taxed at 100%.

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The problem is that a lot of tenants will just completely trash a place then move out after a few years and actually getting the money out of them to pay for returns is legal hell even if they have it (which they often don't).

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This happens already and is independent of the renting mechanism.

The market prices this risk in. In addition to the rent, typically there is a deposit, which is kept to pay for cleanup if the apartment is trashed.

For people who find the risk of cleanup/repair costs for a place exceeding the deposit and whatever profit they make from rent to be unacceptable, there already are management companies that keep a larger portion of the rent but in return undertake to cover maintenance / cleanup during and between tenancies, and also cover the rent payments in the event of a large gap between tenancies.

I do feel that there is a gap between those extremes that is waiting to be filled - some kind of end-of-tenancy insurance, perhaps - but that is by the by.

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" the cost of restoring it to a sellable state when they end their tenancy can be priced in and/or insured against.

...Meanwhile, it shouldn't matter to the landlord ...whether it's the same person paying rent today as yesterday (provided they do pay rent)."

Do you not see that the second part contradicts the first? "Oh, it wasn't me knocked a hole in the wall, it was the previous tenant who was a friend invited to stay by the original tenant who is now in Australia", good luck chasing after the money to do the repairs, and insurance companies will charge an arm and a leg in premiums to cover "so your tenant trashed your property then disappeared and now you have to repair it".

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May 9·edited May 9

If I wake up in the morning and find that my car has been vandalised overnight where I parked it, I don't need to work out who did it before my insurance covers the repairs (which is great, since the police round here lack the capacity to do anything of that nature).

Why can't this work the same way?

The landlord shouldn't have to chase the tenant for the repair costs. This is a thing that's broken in the current system and shouldn't stay that way. Either they already have the deposit, or there is insurance in the picture (or a management company, which performs the same function and balances risk across their portfolio internally) or they've deliberately decided to bear the risk themselves so they get to keep more of the rent and therefore now have to pay out of their own pocket I guess.

If we expect landlords to give tenants more rights than presently, we do need to help balance their risk accordingly. I don't think we particularly need to invent anything new for this, though, we already have tried and tested mechanisms for this sort of thing.

That said, if we're imagining new possibilities, an insurance package tied to the tenant could also work - landlords could reduce rent / lower deposits to tenants with such a package, and tying it to the tenant would let insurers price discriminate based on risk assessment / past history just like they do for cars, including no claims bonuses etc.

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"Short of altering the structure of the building, the tenant should be able to do what they like to the property they live in - the cost of restoring it to a sellable state when they end their tenancy can be priced in and/or insured against."

Would you consider a requirement to put about 10% of the value of the property in escrow an acceptable way to ensure the ability to restore the property to a sellable state?

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No, because around here 10% of the value of a property is twice the annual wage for a cleaner, and I don't believe it's physically possible to do damage that will cost that amount to fix without doing things like breaking down load bearing walls.

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No, sometimes you just want to live in a certain place for a couple years (like going to college), and buying a house and then selling it again is not worth the hassle compared to just renting one for a bit.

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Buying and selling is a hassle in the current market where most people only do it once or twice in their life and it only applies to separate houses which are huge purchases.

If we had a system where people could buy their apartments, it would create a market for much more frequent and smaller transactions, and the market would respond with appropriate financial implements to that situation. Like car loans.

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Buying your apartment is called a condo

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I don’t think that makes sense. There’s a lot of fixed costs in transferring real estate ownership, and a lot of specialized tasks in maintaining real estate, and so there are real efficiencies and social benefits in having some people specialized to do that while others just rent, particularly for short term situations. It’s a lot of the same advantages for why restaurants exist instead of all cooking being done in individually-owned kitchens.

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Communist USSR is not exactly known for its excellent housing

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Thank you Godwin.

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I don’t think owner occupancy solves the problem. You still have to decide whether the building allows pets in the individual unit, or doesn’t, and instead of an owner-operator for the whole building, you have a community of owner-occupants that need to set a collective policy. Any way that policy is set will be bad for some owner-occupants. What matters is having sufficient buildings that there is a market niche for some to do each policy, more than how ownership of those buildings is structured.

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There's a big difference between passing a rule that applies to you and passing a law that only applies to strangers. To say nothing of democracy vs dictatorship.

Assuming that the co-op model is what would happen for apartment complexes, sure, every rule will be bad for some occupants. But the rules should be much better on average, because they're made by and for the people they affect. And it should be much easier to find a co-op that matches your preferences, because different people with different preferences can cluster, but all landlords have basically the same incentives.

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Honestly I don't think pets belong in apartments at all, with the possible exception of fish. If you don't have a proper backyard you definitely shouldn't own a dog and probably shouldn't own a cat either. Animals shouldn't be cooped up indoors 23 hours a day.

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...this sentiment in one ear, and "the outside world is dangerous and full of cars, and also pets have a huge, terrible effect on the ecosystem; they should never ever be let out; keep them indoor only!" in the other. Net result: no-one should have pets,ever.

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I'm sympathetic to both of these, so I took it out of my own hands by getting a cat with serious health problems that means it can't be let out, both for its own health (needs meds twice a day) and that of other cats (FIV+).

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Apartments and outdoors aren't the only options. There is such a thing as non-apartment housing, such as... houses.

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Have you read this? It goes a bit farther.

https://mattlakeman.org/2020/03/21/against-dog-ownership/

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Landlords are also capable of owning and renting out full houses, although it probably wouldn't be profitable in San Fransisco or New York.

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Unless you're vegan, this argument doesn't make any sense to me. The animals we eat can sit cooped up in cages for basically their entire lives, and that's okay, but people can't have pets that they love and play with in their own apartments?

There also lots of small pets, like rats, hamsters, pigeons, snakes, lizards, etc that can get everything they need in a small amount of space. I mean, just look at how small the enclosures for some creatures are even at zoos.

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May 9·edited May 9

Perhaps, but consider also The Repugnant Conclusion.

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Many apartments have rodent problems, and (human) pest control that the landlord has to call is significantly slower than the domestic cat.

I've never owned a cat, but in retrospect perhaps I should have...

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Why do you think landlords ban pets?

As far as I can tell, its 1) They accelerate degradation/increase maintainance cost of the building 2) Other tenants are annoyed by them.

Both of those are still problems with some kind of collective ownership. In general I dont get how capital is supposed to profit off something like that: Whatever money the ban makes them, why dont they just make that into an upcharge for getting a pet allowed, if that was so attractive?

The housing market is a lot better over here. Still, most appartments dont allow pets.

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For a furnished apartment, there is also 3) the risk of the pet destroying an apartment's worth of furniture. The cost of replacing that (or the loss involved in moving from the furnished to the unfurnished rental market) can be much higher than the cost of cleaning and repainting an empty apartment that an animal scratched up / excreted in.

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In a rental, there's a pernicious principle-agent problem (or maybe that's not the exact term, but related).

The renter doesn't care what happens to the property or property values as long as they can keep renting (indeed, they directly benefit from falling property values).

The landlord doesn't care about quality of life for the tenant, as long as they can keep their rooms full at market price (indeed, they can save a lot of money with various QoL-lowering measures, and having more churn makes it easier to increase their prices to keep up with the market/inflation).

So the renter and landlord have an oppositional relationship with wildly divergent incentives about how the unit should be used and treated. This encourages landlords lowering QoL and tenants disrespecting the property and neighborhood in a constant downward spiral.

That includes, in this case, landlords outlawing all pets, even ones that are likely to not be costly to them in terms of damages and property values; and tenants not caring about whether their pets will cause damages or lower property values, and not caring to give them the proper training/clean up after them quickly/etc to avoid that.

There's a reason pets destroy rented apartments faster than owned homes. When you own your own property, all the incentives fall on you and you can balance them optimally. When the incentives are misaligned because of an adversarial renter/landlord relationship, dumb shit happens.

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May 9·edited May 9

I do wonder how much of this is (a) stated policy compared to actual policy and (b) a lack of "reputation."

Specifically, I rented an apartment for a while and was a "good" tenant. My rent was always on time, management didn't have to come talk to me about loud parties, the police didn't show up at my apartment late at night, etc.

Eventually I acquired a girlfriend and we decided to move in together to a larger apartment. Also, she wanted a cat. I explained to management that we wanted a larger place (which they had) and that moving there would be easier for us (short distance to move stuff, we know the management company and neighborhood, etc.). But we wanted a cat. Policy for the apartment complex was: No pets.

We were permitted a (single) cat in exchange for a slight increase in the rent.

I have no idea how common this is.

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>indeed, they can save a lot of money with various QoL-lowering measures

That only works if they can surprise the tenants. Pets/no pets is known from the outset and will be priced in. This was my point: "Capitalist greed" is rarely a reason not to offer something, only to change price.

>When you own your own property, all the incentives fall on you

Yeah, for some reason I thought you were talking about collective ownership of the building rather than condos. What might also contribute though is that in many places tenants cant be held accountable for anything except not paying the rent, if that. I mean, you said that landlords will decrease QoL to increase churn, instead of just... kicking people out. Thats kind of symptomatic.

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For 1, you're describing how things work in an efficient market with lots of competition and high consumer information and low friction costs. Maybe there are some lucky cities where the apartment rental market looks like that, but it doesn't describe any of the cities where we talk about the problems with housing all the time.

> you said that landlords will decrease QoL to increase churn,

I'm saying churn doesn't hurt them, they lower QoL mostly to save on costs.

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>For 1, you're describing how things work in an efficient market with lots of competition and high consumer information and low friction costs.

I dont think so. What would be the incentive against offering your building with pets allowed and a correspondingly higher price? It seems to me that even a monopolist landlord would have some of his buildings like that.

>I'm saying churn doesn't hurt them, they lower QoL mostly to save on costs.

You said that it helps with raising prices. And with that too, why cant they just do that? It seems very much like youre trying to fix the side effects of fixing the market, rather than a problem with the market itself.

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The real issue is that it's very difficult to deal with an irresponsible pet owner. In terms of the harm to the building or stuff that's easily handled by the deposit and/or a monthly pet fee. And most people are pretty responsible with their pets so don't impose much (if any) net harm to their neighbors.

The real issue is what about the person who leaves their giant husky home barking all day. Eviction is a crazy expensive process for a landlord and especially in this situation where it's hard to have a clear rule about what constitutes excessive barking so you may need to pull in the neighbors to testify in any eviction hearing.

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Voting is generally secret, it doesn't advertise anything.

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It depends what you mean by "democracy." If you just mean "people elect legislators to figure out all those 'law' thingies for them" and don't pay any more heed, then yeah, a known failure mode is "I demand you vote for all the nice-sounding things, and talk about trade-offs and complications is just defeatist!"

But "democracy" as it was practiced in its Tocquevillian heyday isn't just voting or legislatures. It means that ordinary people - not specialist legislators, bureaucrats, or other "public servants" - are the primary agents tasked with identifying, reviewing, and solving their community's problems, either through voluntary and fraternal organizations, or through communal participation in formal government bodies like town meetings.

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Democracy as published by the Greeks didn't really involve much or any voting at all. They knew that this would just lead to aristocracy.

No, true democracy means that we pick leaders at random.

See