The topic of service animals has become an unnecessarily fraught one across the United States.
Service animals are well-trained, highly sensitive, and useful animals who very much have a job to do: keep their owner safe. They are usually not pests or in any way distracting or detracting from a space.
Redditor advice-throwaway1256 is planning on getting a service animal that her sister is already not fond of. After her sister threatened to limit the animal’s access to her home, our Redditor friend then threatened to limit contact with her sister.
Unsure if she was doing a fair thing, she went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for objective feedback on her choice:
“AITA for saying I would limit contact with my sister if she didn’t allow my service dog into her home?”
Our original poster, or OP, started by talking about her hypothetical service dog and her sister.
“I (19F[emale]) am a college student. My two sisters and I are all very close in age, and we’ll all be ‘leaving the nest’ at around the same time later this year.”
“I have a form of cerebral palsy that makes me unsteady on my feet, and keeps my hips from functioning properly.”
“Most days I struggle to get up the stairs and on really bad days I need to lean on someone’s arm just to step up onto a curb. Because of this, one of my goals before I finish college is to get a service dog.”
During a spirited discussion, things got heated.
“Tonight, we were discussing our plans for after college, and my youngest sister, Winter, asked if ‘the dog goes with me everywhere.’”
“When I answered that it would, she said ‘I wouldn’t let you bring it to my house’ (we’re planning to live in the same city and had been very excited about visiting each other prior to this conversation).”
“When I asked her why, she said she’s planning to have kids and doesn’t want the dog to hurt them.”
“When I explained how well service dogs are trained and that kind of aggression wouldn’t be an issue, she changed tactics and said that she wants to get a pair of large dogs herself and my dog, which would also be a larger breed—I’ve been told it will most likely be a German Shepherd—would ‘upset them by coming into their space.’”
“Again, I couldn’t see that being an issue if my dog is well-trained, but she stuck to her guns.”
“I will say that my family doesn’t handle my disability well: for a lot of my life, it’s felt like they try to pretend I’m just…not disabled.”
“Winter, especially, doesn’t like to acknowledge it. She comments on how embarrassing it is when I have someone come up to ask about my braces, and she doesn’t tend to believe me when I say I can’t do something unless she sees me attempt it and fail.”
“That’s actually part of the reason I want to get a service dog—in the past few years I’ve felt like I’m finally learning to take pride in my identity as a disabled person, and I want to embrace that instead of hiding it.”
Fed up with this treatment of her disability, OP went off.
“So I eventually lost my temper, which is where I might have been the a**hole.”
“I told Winter that if she didn’t let me bring my service dog to her house, I wouldn’t go to her house at all, and limit contact with her to restaurants and places where she couldn’t stop me from having my dog with me.”
“She said I was overreacting to a reasonable request and trying to ‘punish’ her for not wanting a strange dog in her house.”
“A few other family members have since chimed in, saying that limiting contact would be too extreme on my part and that I really hurt her feelings by threatening it, especially since I’ve gotten along without a service dog all this time and I probably wouldn’t be confronting a lot of stairs or curbs at Winter’s house.”
“In a way, I can see their point. I did kind of dial things straight to eleven by threatening to limit contact, and Winter does have the right to choose whether she wants my dog in her house.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors weighed in to say that Winter can take a hike.
“I may be biased because I have cerebral palsy, a service dog and several family members that used my disability as an excuse for their bad behavior but a thousand times NTA.”
“You aren’t suggesting bringing a pet around her home that you know she doesn’t like but a living, breathing, feeling, loving piece of medical equipment in the form of a service dog.”
“I always ask before I bring my service dog into a private residence but if I’m told no I make the same compromise you did and only see that person in places where my dog is allowed.”
“I wish you the best with your dog and hope he/she is able to help you as my dog has helped me.”-GothPenguin
“I don’t currently use a cane, but I have before and will again, and when I have used one I’ve usually been capable of walking without it. It just cost a lot more effort and pain.”
“If somebody told me I couldn’t bring my cane to their house, I would 100% respect that by never going to their house. OP is NTA.”-NorbearWrangler
“NTA. If her issue is kids, you won’t have that issue until she has them. If her issue is having her own dogs this would only reflect badly on how she trains her dogs.”
“If most dogs are introduced as puppies they get along well. And if her issue is having ‘strange dogs at her house’ she’s just creating drama where there is none.”
“Obviously you’re sisters and she would know the dog well. Your sister sounds spoiled and entitled.”-OfDogsandRoses
“NTA. Your family is ableist and disrespectful of your needs. Your sister was literally digging for any possible reasons to not allow you to bring a service animal into her hypothetical house to be around her hypothetical children and hypothetical large pet dogs.”
“None of that even exists and she’s already trying to exclude you from her life. Her only concern was that having you around would be a bother to her.”
“Your family have done you no favors by pretending your disability doesn’t exist, all they’ve done is not take you into consideration because it’s too inconvenient for them.”-Charlie_Parkers_Mood
Everyone acknowledged OP’s sister’s right to not have the dog in the house:
“NTA. People with service dogs have a right to have them escort them pretty much anywhere – including planes, toilets, nightclubs – you name it.”
“Your sister was being an ass and doesn’t like it when it backfires and she doesn’t get her own way.”
“If you feel like you need a service dog – you should look at getting one. Your family need to adjust to the reality of the situation. Good luck :)”-muz_j03
“NTA, what a weird situation. Your sister’s arguments don’t make any sense and I think you should ask her to say out loud what’s really on her mind.”
“Not coming to her house is your right as it is hers to not want you to bring a dog, so that’s fine. It would have been more diplomatic to say ‘well, then you have to visit me instead of me visiting you’.”-BillyT666
“NTA. Your sister has every right to not want ‘pets’ (animals) in her house but given the other info it seems like she just doesn’t want your (service) animal and it probably is to do with your disability.”
“May be some underlining issues and resentment if you needed ‘special’ considerations to accommodate your disability.”
“I use special in quotation marks as it is literally your right to have certain measures in place under equal opportunities and many many other laws.”
“Edit cause I used the word pet in a way that looks like I don’t see the difference between service animals and pets when I was trying to show its OP’s sister that doesn’t see the difference.”
“My bad! Also OP’s sister clearly has no problem with animals which makes her even more of an a**hole.”-AJSCRPT
“NTA – if she can’t have your service dog in her house, then it’s not feasible for you to visit in her space.”
“It really is that simple. This is not materially different from telling a wheelchair user they can’t bring their chair into the house. It’s her choice, and her consequence. The two go together.”
“Also, she’s intellectually dishonest and a hypocrite for claiming that she can’t have your big dog in her house because it might be a danger to her kids, but then plans to have TWO big dogs of her own.”
“Third, you didn’t threaten to limit contact with her. You only said it would have to occur in places where your service dog was welcome.”
“How much or how little contact that turns out to be is entirely dependent on how much she resists meeting you in those places.”-avast2006
But it doesn’t seem like the animal that she has an issue with.
“NTA. You need that service dog, it’s not an option to just leave it at home. Also, Winter sounds like an awful sister.”
“She complains that you having a disability (something you had no choice or control over) is embarrassing for her?”
“Then she forces you to do things even after you explain to her that you can’t and you’re going to hurt yourself trying? Seriously?”
“Even if she does let you bring your dog into her house, I would still go low contact/no contact with her. You don’t deserve to put up with your sister’s (or the rest of your family’s) casual albeism.”-ShastaWolf
“NTA – your sister is selfish brat. Mostly she has no idea about dogs. If she thinks big dogs would be upset about other dog in the house …she didn’t raise the dogs right and shouldn’t have one.”
“I would kinda understand if you wanted service dog for mental support but for actual physical help when you have troubles moving, she should be understanding.”-KrisTheMermaid
“NTA. It is entirely reasonable to not go to your sister’s house if you cannot take your service dog. Her saying you cannot bring your service dog would be like telling an amputee that he cannot use his prosthetic leg – just horrifyingly unthinkable.”
“If your sister does have kids the service dog can be introduced the to the kids at a distance outside of her home. Same goes for any dogs she might have.”
“In the meanwhile, if she wants to visit you then she can come to your home or meet your elsewhere out in public.”-que_he_hecho
“NTA. Your sister and family are not very empathetic with you. If no ones ever on your side, i know that could really hurt.”
“I’m sorry that’s that way they’re treating you. passive aggressively saying she’s is not bringing your dog in her home to make life a little harder for you and doubting your disability isn’t cool.”
“Like I would get it if it’s her house, her rules, but the way she’s going about it is not coming from a place of kindness or concern for your well-being imo.”-Lq38
If OP and her sister can have an honest conversation about why it hurt so much for Winter to say she wouldn’t allow her disabled sister into her home with a service animal, they may be able to make real progress.
Otherwise, OP may be limiting contact with her sister even sooner than she thought.