Pets require a lot of care and a serious responsibility for any household.
But this is especially true for service animals, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor corner-street55 was at her wit’s end, feeling like she was the only one caring for her brother’s service dog.
But when her family lashed out at her, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to walk my brother’s service dog and suggesting rehoming him?”
The OP didn’t like taking care of her brother’s service dog.
“I (17 [female]) live with my parents and my 20-year-old brother.”
“My brother was born with a boatload of different physical and mental disabilities.”
“He was suggested for a service dog.”
“However, since we got this dog almost 2 months ago, I have to do a lot for him.”
“He was trained through an organization, but he still needs his training to stay up-to-date.”
“My brother can’t really do this himself and my parents are busy, so I end up doing most of it. I also have to walk him every day, and feed him, and give him water.”
“He has to be walked separately from our older family dog, because she likes going slow. He also wakes me up at 5 every morning by wanting to go out. He’s just insufferable.”
The arrangement led to a recent argument.
“It came to a head this past weekend. Thursday I was out until almost 7. By that time, it was dark and I didn’t want to walk him.”
“Friday, I was gone until 9 and didn’t walk him either.”
“So he hadn’t walked for 2 days. When I got home, my parents were livid because he was too high-energy and my brother had to let him out into the yard to run around for a while and he missed an alert.”
“They said I was endangering his health by refusing to take the dog for walks.”
“They said if I could walk the older dog, who didn’t even ‘need’ walks, I could walk him as well.”
“I told them I hated the dog, and I was not taking care of someone else’s pet. This also caused issues because he’s ‘not a pet.'”
“I suggested they walk him themselves, which they said was not an option because they had to work.”
“They said I had agreed to walk him, which was kind of true. What actually happened was I said if I needed to, I would occasionally walk him.”
“I said if they couldn’t walk him they should get rid of him, and they said I was being ridiculous and my brother has a right to the service dog.”
“I told them I hated his dog and that he didn’t have a right to force other people to take care of an animal for him, even if it was a service dog.”
“He was in the living room at the time and we were in the kitchen, so when I raised my voice to say that, he heard and got very upset.”
The OP’s parents called her bluff.
“They said if we only have one dog, the dog we’re keeping is the service dog, and we would get rid of the family dog if I couldn’t take care of both of them.”
“I was tired and left the conversation after that.”
“Well, the past couple of days, we’ve had another problem with him missing an alert because he hadn’t gotten a walk in a few days.”
“I probably did have time but honestly hate walking him because he’s basically a people magnet, and I get a whole bunch of random strangers around me, so I didn’t.”
“They’re blaming me and I’m again suggesting the dog is gotten rid of, but they won’t hear it.”
“They say sometimes we need to make sacrifices for our family.”
“My brother is still very upset and has been having some issues the past few days.”
“I don’t think I’m in the wrong because it’s his dog in the first place, but maybe I should not suggest he get rid of his dog.”
“I wouldn’t have an issue if I didn’t have to take care of him.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the service dog was not the OP’s responsibility.
“I don’t understand how not walking the dog ‘missed an alert.’ The dog missed an alert because it was too hyper? Your brother missed an alert to take meds because the dog was running around? I guess I need more info and brother’s disabilities and why He is unable to care for the dog.”
“If the brother can let the dog out in the backyard to pee, why can the brother throw a ball for the dog to chase and burn off energy?”
“You have enough responsibilities with school, work, and other chores to be babysitting your brother and his service dog. Does your brother have a caseworker, you can contact to find better alternatives?”
“What are your parents going to do when you leave for college or move out? Are they going to deny you going to college, make you go to college close by to stay at home?”
“Work on getting a scholarship because it sounds like your parents aren’t going to help you. Hide all money because I see them stealing your saving to prevent you from leaving.”
“Your parents need a wake-up call that you will not always be around. And your brother and his service dog are not your responsibility.” – deeme5-4
“NTA. It is not your job or responsibility to provide full-time care, including feeding and walking, to a dog that isn’t yours and that you didn’t agree to be solely responsible for.”
“You said you’d help with the occasional walk, which is reasonable. Expecting you to train, exercise, and feed the dog every single day is not reasonable – because it is not your dog, you didn’t agree to this, and it is not fair to you or the dog whatsoever.”
“Your parents need to hire a dog walker and actually act like adults to ensure this poor pup is taken care of and has adequate exercise and care.”
“Your brother does not have a ‘right’ to a service dog. He has a right to reasonable and appropriate accommodations for his disability.”
“If the service dog cannot be cared for, then it is not reasonable for him to have this accommodation at the expense of the dog’s wellbeing. If it is essential he has the service dog, your parents need to step up and stop willfully neglecting an innocent animal.”
“Please don’t say you hate the dog, I’m sure he is lovely. Try and take a step back and place the blame where it belongs, fully on your parents, and re-assess what the dog has done wrong (which is literally nothing).”
“Please treat the dog with kindness and respect, even if you resent the position your parents have put you in, and although it is not your job, please advocate that the dog receives proper care because the dog doesn’t have a voice and it doesn’t sound like anyone is looking out for him in this scenario.” – jmaeww
Others thought this sounded like sacrifice and parentification.
“Parentification is abuse and it sounds like it’s happening here.” – tehwubbles
“I also wonder if the dog is a flashpoint for everything else she has had to sacrifice over the years in order to accommodate the brother.” – Key_Draft4255
“While reading I also had the feeling that the dog is just the last of several sacrifices OP had to do ‘because of family.'”
“And she is 17, who will care for the dog if she’s going to college?”
“Or have the parents blocked her from moving out to make some more sacrifices for the family?” – zedestroyer69
“My thoughts went immediately to, ‘They had a second kid after having a disabled child so they could make the second child become the caretaker for the first,’ based on how the parents seem to treat the second child.”
“Might be doing them a total disservice and perhaps they do have long-term plans for the brother that don’t include his sibling taking over care while the parents ‘retire.'”
“But either way, they are messing up their second child right now by basically making them the servant of the older one and making him a burden to the sister instead of just a sibling.” – PokieWeirdo12
A few said the parents should financially compensate the OP or someone else.
“Perhaps she can get a job as a dog walker, make money locally so she never has to leave home and, of course, supply her services to her brother’s dog free!”
“Well, except for OP, but we make these sacrifices for our family, don’t we?” – Budfudder
“Why don’t they pay for a dogwalker? I work from home and walk my dogs 3 or 4 times a day and still pay for doggy daycare once a week so the dogs can have fun.”
“Absolutely no reason not to hire a dogwalker to assist the brother… It’s terrible that you’ve been put in that position” – susiek50
While the OP had mixed feelings about what she said about the dog, the subReddit understood where she was coming from.
Agreeing to occasionally walk a service dog is completely different from caring for the dog every day, even if the OP was already caring for the family dog, who would have a completely different personality and needs.
Her parents needed to think about what was the most realistic for their family, and also, what they would do once the OP turned 18.