For the Love of Dogs

For the Love of Dogs (ESAs)



Last summer, when the neighbor was caught breaking the rules of the Homeowners’ Association (HOA), she came out swinging, scratching and biting.  Instead of saying, “Ooops, my bad,” she pointed her finger at me and claimed, “Well, Julie has three dogs and they yap all day.”  (Our HOA CC&Rs allow for owners to have two pets.)


First, my dogs don’t yap all day.  At the time she called me out, I didn’t even have a dog door.  My dogs were NEVER outside without me.


Second, I don’t actually have dogs.  I have three EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS and one foster dog.


* * * * *


Wikipedia explains, “An emotional support animal (ESA) is a US legal term for a pet who provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship and affection.  . . In the United States, two federal laws grant special rights to some owners of emotional support animals.”


The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1988 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 establish procedures to modify “no pets” policies in most types of housing.


* * * * *


My parents gave me a Maltese-Terrier-Poodle mix for my fifth birthday.   I named her “Fluffy.” 


My husband, of less than a year, took me to pick up my Samoyed puppy when I was twenty-four.  We called him “Gorbachev.”  And, when I carried him away from his mother, I whispered in his pointed ear, “You will always have a warm, safe, dry home. . .you will always have plenty to eat. . .I will love you.”


With every animal in my life, I repeated that.


I have never owned an animal.  With humility and gratitude, I have accepted stewardship of animals. 


And, in exchange, they have emotionally supported me.


* * * * *


I gave both my HOA and my medical insurance provider a copy of my Emotional Support Animal letter.


I keep both hard and electronic copies of my letters. 


Those letters keep my promise to the animals and protect me.


* * * * *

With my HOA, I am protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act.  My dogs are safe.


A year ago, a friend adopted a Golden Retriever puppy.  Then, she read the CC &R’s of her HOA.  It restricted owners to having pets under 40 pounds.  Her puppy would grow to 90 pounds.


Because of a brain injury, she secured a letter explaining why she needed her puppy. 


* * * * *


Under the new health care act, expenses associated with ESAs are covered by Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and can be paid with pre-tax dollars.  Because my dogs are ESAs, I frontload my FSA with the maximum allowed.  I use that account to pay for food, veterinary care, and medicine for my ESAs.


* * * * *


Whenever I accept stewardship for an animal, I will make that animal my ESA.  She or he provides me with unconditional love.  The least I can do is offer the unconditional protection of an ESA letter. 








About Julie Hooker

I'm a teacher, writer, and editor. In addition, I'm an animal rescuer, yogi, and friend.
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