Should people who are disabled have pets?

runsnwalkenSeptember 28, 2008

First off- I have a disability, Autism,hearing, vision loss and am a great pet owner, I feed great foods, take my cats to the vet regularly, both are neutered non-de-clawed, have all their shots updated and are indoor only. I realize that not all people are alike here.

But it seems for like every good disabled person who has a pet 4 or 5 others are not possibly because they've got so much other stuff going on, prehaps because of money - I knew a woman who has MS that took in three dogs, had them on no heart worm preventive and fed them old roy- one of the worst dog foods, her cats haven't been to a vet, sense I first met her ( expect to have one PTS at 13 for cancer and behavioral reasons) and she has before moving allowed them to roam at large in a farming community. Many things have happened to her outside cats over the years, one got taken by a mean neighbor to a lab/some were hit by cars/ect. Then there's the person at my job that had to have her cats de-clawed when she moved into a group home as a result cats have taken to pooping outside the litter box and they have give her a nasty bite- which IMO think is great only because the group home now can suffer the consequences. Though I do wish she would have given the cats away so she didn't get bit/put other people in danger/ she's a great person and I think its sad it had to happen to her- not to the place she lived in.

Then there's another Group home cat that was de clawed and was on really bad food- Good-life,from purina, when I tried to help them the money manager of the cats owner declined saying it to much money to buy better food. A cat in another group home was given to a shelter because some buddy had allergies, probably de-clawed as well. Most people in this situation are on low income in the first place, shouldn't it be best they refrain from having a pet both for the welfare of the animal AND the welfare/safety of the people?

Again though, this is such a broad spectrum of people both good and bad, I knew a woman who found a stranded bird, a canary and is going to keep and take care of it, properly. And others I've known who had handicaps but possibly have forgotten throughout the passage of time took decent if not good/great care of their pets. I understand pets are great for disabled people and others too, its sad for me to post this-

but after talking with people at my job and through life experiences I'm thinking its a good debate.

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In most cases, YES they should.

My sister in law is physically and mentally handicapped after a drunk driver ran her over.

She lives in a subsidized apartment complex that has all physically handicapped people. They allow pets, many have service animals including one severely handicapped man who has a trained monkey.

My sister in law's life in enhanced by her kitty, who is not declawed but is spayed.

The man with the monkey could not live on his own without him though the building does have resident care givers, he provides a ton of services like fetching objects and turning on and off lights.

There is another man with a service dog that monitors him for seizures. It is a standard poodle that is perfectly groomed and spotlessly white.

All that I have talked with love their animals and are very proud of them and they are all very well cared for.

I know that some people become mentally ill and hoard animals or try to rescue them without having the real ability to do so but they should not be confused with handicapped people who often really need their companions and service animals.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 8:45PM
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The people in question above do NOT have mental illness, they take in pets because they believe they are doing the best- but cannot take care of them properly due to limited money/ bad advice from vets-ect. Money seems to me one of the biggest reasons against most handicaped people having pets.

Here is another example- with a brain injury this time.

I know a guy who took in a dog ( got the dog by having his girlfriend get it)/not himself as he isn't allowed by legal guardian to own a pet so gets his girlfriend involved) The dog was fed alpo dog food- a really low quality and was very old. pcas were upset he had the dog in his pocession and they nag him repeatedly to re home the dog, the dog was walked by friends and him,but one pca told me that he often forgets to walk/take care of a dog. He told me quite sadly that someone had shot the dog and that why the older dog ended up at the shelter ( and that he loves the S*** out of her)- later on the dog disappears- he tells me he gave the older dog to friends but pca later tells me the dog was placed back into the shelter.

Meanwhile he starts talking on and on about dogs,how he HAS TO have one- he wants aggressive bully breeds too- sometimes and other times it changes over to nicer more calm dogs, usealy though it remans something like a pitbull. Finely a friend gives him a de clawed older cat, he handles the pet like you would a stuffed animal, the cat begins hiding and only coming out for food/ect, then few weeks later due to feeding really cheap food cat dies at 12 from kidney failure- THEN his brother gets him a kitten that he allows to get ear mites and still even though pcas tell him otherwise has issues with care/ his brother gets the kitten back-thankfully.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 8:03PM
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Pets can be a lifeline to anyone, but especially to disabled people. However, it is very sad if they are unable to take care of the pets properly.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 11:47PM
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I agree and have in my travels met a few disabled people who took good care of their pets, somehow for me anyway, all of your good stories seem to me like what Gary Paulson stated in woodsong about the cartoon Bambi, and what a deers life really was like in the far north. Grapic writing but true. I think dogs fit in better in group home settings because they are held to a higher standard and IF something happens- if it were a dog there would be words believe me, but sense it was a cat that bit her, it seems unimportent even though cat scratch fever can be passed on, leading to a serious blood infection. Also you cannot maim a dog ( de clawing) to have it fit in better-cats are more wild and do NOT LIKE changes- most if not all group homes change constently with the clients-staff.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 10:16PM
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Animal hoarding IS DEFINITELY a mental illness, unfortunately. The following text is from straight from the American Psychiatric Association:

"Several psychiatric models have been suggested for problematic animal hoarding (Lockwood, 1994). The delusional model suggests that people who hoard animals suffer from a highly focused form of delusional disorder. Two pieces of anecdotal information support this model. First, in our pilot study, participants all firmly believed they had a special ability to communicate and/or empathize with animals. Furthermore, the hoarders insisted that their animals were healthy and well-cared for. This claim, in the midst of clear and immediate information to the contrary, suggests a belief system out of touch with reality. One interesting finding is that, outside the context of their relationship to their animals, many of these people appear reasonably normal and healthy.

Patronek (1999) suggested that animal hoarding may be a "warning sign for early stages of dementia," which would suggest a dementia model. This was based on the number of people who were placed in a residential facility or under guardianship (26%) and that the individuals showed no insight into the irrationality of their behavior. Furthermore, hoarding of inanimate objects occurs in about 20% of dementia cases (Hwang et al., 1998). There is little direct evidence for this model, however. It was not established whether institutional placement was due to dementia, and lack of insight is common in disorders other than dementia (e.g., obsessive-compulsive disorder or anorexia). Further, the hoarding of possessions is accompanied by an inability to recognize the problem (Frost and Steketee, 1998), yet our work does not show it to be closely associated with cognitive dysfunction.

Lockwood (1994) suggested an addictions model based on similarities to substance abuse, including a preoccupation with animals, denial of a problem, excuses for the behavior, isolation from society, claims of persecution, and neglect of personal and environmental conditions. Other evidence consistent with this model comes from research on impulse control problems. In particular, the hoarding of possessions is associated with several impulse control problems including compulsive shopping (Frost et al., 1998) and gambling (Meagher et al., 1999). Some animal hoarders report compulsive collecting of strays or shelter animals.

Small numbers of animal hoarders may be explained by a zoophilia model, in which animals serve as sexual gratification (Lockwood, 1994). Although in a few cases reported by the popular media collected animals were the objects of sexual activity, there is little evidence to support this model as a major determinant of this behavior.

Another possible model for animal hoarding is an attachment model in which the individual suffers from early developmental deprivation of parental attachment and is unable to establish close human relationships in adulthood. This situation may result from childhood experiences of absent, neglectful or abusive parents or caretakers. The chaotic households and inconsistent parenting observed in the HARC interviews, as well as the desire for unconditional love from animals described in Worth and Beck's report (1981), provide some support for this model. This model is also consistent with current theorizing about the hoarding of possessions.

Perhaps the most parsimonious model ties animal hoarding to OCD (Lockwood, 1994). Two major features are consistent with the OCD model. People with this syndrome appear to experience an overwhelming sense of responsibility for preventing imagined harm to animals, and they engage in unrealistic steps to fulfill this responsibility. OCD patients experience this same sense of excessive responsibility for preventing harm and engage in unrealistic ritualization to prevent it.

Runsnwalken - you need to do your research before making unfounded statements.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 4:31PM
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I see many many non-disabled people with pets in poor condition or without adequate veterinary care. I don't think being handicapped has anything to do with the care pets receive- it is a priority issue with the owner/caretaker. People who are concerned about their pets put in the effort to keep them as happy and healthy as possible. Other people have priorities that put their pets below having the best sound system for their home or TV, the fanciest clothes, etc. THOSE are the people who don't deserve pets. I understand prioritizing pets below family, but they should be a very close second to family and nothing else.

Older people who are on blood thinners often require a declawed cat for medical reasons. They would simply bleed to death if a cat accidentally scratched them. Other people are immunosuppressed and have declawed cats for the same reason. I don't think these people are bad for having their cats declawed- many are wonderful cat owners with happy healthy pets- they simply cannot risk death from a cat scratch.

Hoarders are a different story. These people are mentally ill and need help. They invariably love their pets, but are often unable to provide all of their care due to finances. I know even being a veterinarian I could not afford 20+ animals, and 20 is a low number for hoarders. Simply taking away their animals does nothing to help the person with their illness, and is cruel. Often they will simply acquire more animals shortly after one set being taken away, which does nothing to help the person or animals in general.

Studies have shown that people with pets are happier, healthier, and live longer. I cannot imagine being so cruel as to deny any particular group of people the joy of pet ownership. Of course, they must keep the pets happy and healthy as well, within the limits they have, as part of their responsibility of being the caretakers of another living being. But to simply state that disabled people shouldn't have pets is heartless, and does not allow for individuals who would make wonderful pet parents.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 5:34PM
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I agree and disagree
Yes some people with handicaps make great pet owners- Pat is a woman with MS who lives in an apartment and she keeps a very happy well taken care of cat- and the debate wasn't could it was "should', The woman I've spoken to sounds like she's the best thing that could have happened to the lost bird, i hope all goes well. However most group homes I've met are terrible homes for cats- dogs are better IMO because it they bite its held to a higher standard so the peoples safety isn't neglected. Most people in those suitations don't have enough $$ to support brands of pet food that don't use bad things in their food. This leads to an unhealthy pet and a possible recall again in the future maybe with human children this time not animals.

I say as long as the pet is taken care of properly all is well and you are right it is heartless to deny EVERYONE in that group. BTW the people who would bleed to death if a cat scratched them are ignorant, if they think de-clawing would solve the problem, a bite would do the act just as fast. Plus I'm sure most of them wouldn't do it anyway if they knew what the animal goes through. I had a woman at my artist work-co worker,that substained a serious cat bite from a de-clawed cat.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 8:20PM
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"I know that some people become mentally ill and hoard animals or try to rescue them without having the real ability to do so but they should not be confused with handicapped people who often really need their companions and service animals."
"The people in question above do NOT have mental illness, they take in pets because they believe they are doing the best- but cannot take care of them properly due to limited money/ bad advice from vets-ect."
Sephia-I don't think runswalken was saying that Hoarding is not a mental illness.Maybe you should read what he said again before making unfounded statements!
Runswalken-Sometimes the type of food isn't the most important thing.The fact that these people are taking good care of their pets,even though they might not be getting regular vet care or a high priced food,if they are loved and healthy,THAT is what matters.Old Roy is probably not the best choice of foods but I personally fed it to one dog I had and it lived a healthy life to the age of 16! I know of other dogs that were fed Old Roy for a number of years that also had long,healthy lives.When I was a kid and had 2 dogs at different times,we fed them table scraps (because that was what was done back then) and they lived outside in the barn or in a dog house in the back yard.They were loved and played with and were our companions.They both lived to old ages.My uncle had hunting dogs and would cook a mixture of corn meal and chicken and I don't know what else to feed them and everyone in our family thought he was nuts and that he spoiled them.LOL I wouldn't judge anyone by the type/brand of food they feed their dogs,but by the love and care they are giving them.
I am actually surprised that a group home would allow pets of any kind in the first place unless it was a service animal.They don't where I live and I can totally understand why they wouldn't.
To answer your question,I see no problem with disabled people having pets as long as they can provide proper care (food,shelter and the ability to take them to a vet if needed) and are in a living situation that allows that.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 2:26AM
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Hi lilliepad - my reference to hoarding being a mental illness was in reaction to the issue brought up about it. Meghane must have misunderstood as well because she also addresses the issue of hoarding being a mental illness. Not sure what you mean by my statements being unfounded - the text I copied into my message came straight from the American Psychiatric Association. I even cite references. How can that be unfounded? Unfounded means having no evidence to backup one's statesments.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 10:27PM
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I was referring to your interpretation of runswalkin's statement about hoarding being/not being a mental illness.It was late/early and my brain was a little sluggish.What I meant was that you should read again what he said before concluding that he doesn't believe hoarding to be a mental illness.That isn't what he was saying. I didn't say that the information you posted was unfounded.Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 1:54AM
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Old roy, has been stated in Food Pets Die for- to have contained the drugs used to PTS animals, in shelters and quite possibly the meat from dead cats/dogs. There is no regulations in animal feed- heck for all we know HUMAN meat from aborted fetuses could find its way into pet food. its very, very unlikely, but anythings possible when no regulations exist, or the regulations for pet food are so poor that they are the same as for feeding boiler chickens at a KFC factory were house.

You say you love you dogs, a dog is close to a child IMO, I wonder how many people would buy a food like that for someone who showed such love,loyalty and bonding to them? Possibly you didn't know about it, well now you do, Pet food companies do everything and anything to keep out good informed people from finding out the truth.

I subjest you look into Food Pets Die For by Ann N Martin.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 12:51PM
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runswalkin-I realize there are bad dog foods out there and am not suggesting anyone purposely use them.You seem to have missed my point,but I don't think it would serve any purpose to try to explain it so I'll just leave it at that.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 8:04PM
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Hi lilliepad - no offense taken. I probably should have read runswalkin's post a little more closely before responding. It was a knee jerk reaction regarding hoarding not being a mental illness. My brain might have been a little sluggish too - ask my boss - she'll vouch for that ;>)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 8:09PM
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My view is any buddy who cant( ruling out of course people who are sterile or have reproductive issues) or shouldn't have children due to disability.... retardation, limited moblity or other factors should rethink pets, or at least the higher forms like dogs and cats as these require almost as much work as a child. I'll bet that feeding proper dog/cat food over an increased lifetime per year adds up to a total about similar as putting a child though a low cost school- add $50-$30 a month-Orijen- Evo- and these are the decent canned kibble ones. Raw diets can cost even more. Dogs cats can live much longer on these diets because they are proper for the species. oldest cat 34, oldest dog 29- do the math.

I'd like to see a law in place banning cats/not dogs from Group homes as these are better IMO natures are different/ and if you are disabled outside of such a place you must register with the state to see the animal- dog or cat gets proper care.... its a free program though. This is to protect both people, group home property, and most of all pets, as bites from a de clawed cat can be/are serious/ its a bad and cruel thing to put a cat through, and i've seen people who are handicapped go through a I wanna agressive pit bull/high needs dog but shouldn't let my staff find out phase. Sense society sets such low standards for these people, sad to say, I actually think it may pay off because -safety first. Animals win, people are protected. job done. If passed I think law should exclude cats already in group homes, unless they pose a threat to safety or are not already de clawed.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 11:28PM
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People are people - whether they are disabled or not.

Some people make good pet owners, some people do not. Disability has little to do with it.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 12:00PM
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True, but it can alter the income levels or the living arrangements.... nothing good came from the group home cat "spirit" when the group home allowed her owner to keep cats... if they had to get de clawed, or would have caused issues then the intelligent thing to do would be just not have them in the first place. Get forms of life that cannot cause issues.

By having cats in group home placement they've

1. put others in danger from cat bites- and feline zootonic ( diseases that can jump from animals to people), like rabies,blood infection, ect. Clawed cats can give these too, so no de clawing isn't wise either-only soft paws would have helped- maybe

2. Mudalated an innocent animal, and deprived it of ever living a "Normal" feline existence. Example- Cats should be able to jump from tables normally-not take special rotes because of injured toes

  1. Due to limited income of the owner or the staff the poor cat is provided a diet that is low grade and a possible risk to people in the home (someone retarded might try to eat like kitty) more likely it gave/will give the cats teeth reason to make it a further danger if it is a biter, due to dental disease caused by kibble- (true this cat bites- because of the de clawing in the first place)

4. put animal at risk for abandonment if some buddy should be/get allergic.

5. put animal at risk for injury from the outside( spirit runs outdoors and has had a back nail injury from fighting with other cats) or abuse from people (I've known ex drug/porn mag members- (playboy) that have lived in group homes/ along with people who have been in jail/ or have tried to take their own lives)

6. Goes against the very domestic nature of such a placement-Free ranging cats are seen as nuisance wildlife in most if not all states( some states even stupidly require police to shoot cats on site), they can go wild faster and easier then any of mans animals expect for maybe the pig, rat or pigeon. cats wild or tame by nature are difficult to control.

Fish however, do not cause allergies,scratch furniture or people, and live in Aquariums. They do not live nearly as long either.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 2:58PM
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Would like to know what is a good pet that dosen't need too much care because I am disable.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:03PM
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Nuring homes, assisted living facilities and group homes all across the US have healthy happy pets of many species living in them either cared for by individual owners such as my sister in law that I posted about years ago or by the facilities.

The nursing home my mother lives in has resident cats, birds and fish and visiting dogs. Pets are good for people, that is why they allow visiting animals at hospitals and nursing homes that don't have resident animals...

Hoarders are an entirely different story, while I would not call them disabled, I would call them mentally ill....

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 2:19PM
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