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Woman Called ‘Ableist’ For Refusing To Give Positive Reference To Dog Rescue For Friend With Autistic Son

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References and recommendations have a way of carrying us far, whether it’s to a new job or college or even being able to adopt a pet.

Of course, we would like to be able to give these recommendations to everyone we know, but there are exceptions, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Expensive_Assist_616 felt uneasy about giving her friend’s son a positive recommendation, given what she knew about him.

But when she saw her friend’s reaction to this news, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was being too strict in her judgment.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for refusing to give my friend a positive reference for a dog rescue?”

The OP was asked for a positive recommendation for her friend’s son.

“My friend was looking to rescue a dog, and the rescue requires personal references.”

“She is a single mom to a young adult autistic son.”

But she began to have second thoughts.

“At first, I thought nothing of it, but she frequently made comments about how she needs a medium-to-large-sized dog, because, in her words, he ‘sometimes doesn’t know how to be gentle,’  which is why she won’t get a small dog.”

“This made me very concerned for a dog’s safety. Even a medium- and large-size dog can get hurt, and even if they don’t have any fatal injuries, they don’t deserve to be abused.”

“Her son is over 6 feet tall and almost 300 pounds and is very, very strong.”

Her friend didn’t appreciate it. 

“I told her I was uncomfortable giving a reference under these conditions.”

“She yelled at me and called me an ableist, and she is now refusing to speak to me.”

“AITA?”

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 OP was right to value the dog’s welfare… as well as the son’s.

“NTA; it sounds like your concerns are perfectly valid. It’s not being ableist, it’s being concerned for the dog’s welfare.” – gherbi2356

“I saw some red flags while reading the original post. Getting a big and fully grown dog doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to be tolerant of the young adult.”

“Some rescue dogs have a history of trauma and significant anxiety.”

“NTA.” – LadyGreyIcedTea

“NTA you just save an innocent dog’s life.” – ksharonisok

“NTA. We have to remember that not only are we looking for a dog that fits us and our lifestyle, but we also have to fit the dog. Bringing a dog into that home would not be safe for anyone involved.” – Glass-NotCannon

“I mean, it could be anything from son just pets a little too rough sometimes to full-on Of Mice and Men problems.”

“From his mom’s words, it’s at least actually dangerous for the animal. If I wasn’t familiar with him and his actual interactions with animals, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with it either.” – thepugnacious

Others had their concerns about the mother.

“‘Why did no one warn me that these animals, who are descendants from some of earth’s fiercest predators and are full of sharp pointy teeth, can bit my wonderful, precious little baby boy?!?'”

“This is a disaster waiting to happen, considering the apparent self-entitlement of the mother.” – WhatThis4

“It’s not because the dog is big that it can’t get hurt. Your friend should not be getting an animal if she has a son that ‘sometimes doesn’t know how to be gentle.'”

“It’s like saying you’ll wait until your child is 3 until you’ll introduce them to your pet elephant because the elephant ‘doesn’t always know how to be gentle.'”

“This is honestly just a disaster waiting to happen.”

“NTA” – Kayla9877

“She wants you to LIE??? Then she shouldn’t put you down as a reference and I’d call every rescue within a 100-mile radius and give them a heads-up!”

“NTA. If you’re an ‘ableist,’ then she is enabling the abuse of a poor, innocent animal!” – Hugh_Jaynus_83

“People seem to think that being offended means you’re in the right. They can’t accept that their emotions don’t override reality. They can’t accept that fixed realities are unchangeable.”

“Your offense at the truth doesn’t magically make your dangerous son any less dangerous to others.”

“Your offense doesn’t magically make you skinnier when you ask to try on your 3 sizes smaller friends’ clothes.”

“Your offense doesn’t magically make you able to climb stairs when you are in a wheelchair and applying for a job as a move.” – DimiBlue

“NTA. So let’s see, she told you that she needs a medium to a big dog so that her son can abuse it and it won’t get hurt as bad as a little dog? And she has somehow held it against you that you don’t want to give her a positive reference?”

“No, it doesn’t work that way.” – ForwardPlenty

Some said the OP was right but said she could have approached this differently.

“I kind of wish OP had agreed to be a personal reference so she could have warned the groups to not let this friend adopt. Still NTA, though.” – SincerelyCynical

“She should also warn shelters in her area of the situation. Many won’t allow animals to be put in possibly dangerous homes. It doesn’t matter that he wouldn’t hurt the animal on purpose, it’s not worth the risk.” – GeneralDismal6410

“NTA. Call ahead to shelters and tell them about this woman.” – madcre

“NTA”

“Special needs parent here. We have had the opportunity to get a therapy dog but I have refused until I feel comfortable that my child has exhibited enough self-control and developed better motor planning skills so they are able to act appropriately with the dog.”

“As the parent, you want to provide as much help/care to your child as possible but it needs to not come at the expense of another.”

“Not knowing the family, has this child exhibited violent behavior in the past? Unable to handle frustration in a healthy manner? Gets too excited and has physical outbursts?”

“Also, just because someone has a disability, does not mean they are going to be totally out of control. I wish we had more information on your observations of this young adult’s behavior. Are you making assumptions based on them having autism and being larger in size?” – IBeatSARSx

The OP had mixed feelings about how she handled the situation, but the subReddit openly said it was for the best. Not only did she need to consider the health and happiness of the dog, but also of the son, who could also be negatively impacted if the dog was triggered.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.