His first job was training service dogs in prison.

It takes more than $50,000 to breed, raise, train, match and support a service dog trained through America’s VetDogs. After the puppies graduate from the prison training, they receive an additional three months of formal training, O’Brien said. The group then flies the veterans in and houses them for two weeks while they work with their new puppies. Veterans are never charged for the service; the organization relies largely on donations.

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ESA Gator

People Are Taking Emotional Support Animals Everywhere. States Are Cracking Down.

More Americans are saying they need a variety of animals — dogs, ducks, even insects — for their mental health. But critics say many are really just pets that do not merit special status.
The vast majority of emotional support animals are dogs, but some Americans turn to a wide variety of other species. Wally the alligator was approved by his owner’s doctor in York, Pa., as an alternative to taking medication for depression.

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Berardelli Ex Rel. MB v. Allied Services Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine

As a matter of first impression, despite the absence of a regulation specifically interpreting the RA’s mandate of “reasonable accommodations,” the RA generally requires that individuals with disabilities be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals, consistent with the mandate of “reasonable modifications” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Such requested accommodations are per se reasonable.

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Are people abusing the system to get free flights for pets?

So, how easy is it to fake it?

KDKA’s Amy Wadas decided to see how the process works, so she logged onto a website for a company called Certapet in hopes that she could get her 5-year-old cat, Simba, certified to become an ESA animal.

The site is one of several where a licensed medical professional will write an ESA letter for you if you pay a fee. Wadas had to answer a bunch of questions involving her mental health, like whether she felt down or had anxiety in the past week.

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