Like many veterans from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, New Yorker Eugene Ovsishcher suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) as a result of a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. To help alleviate the symptoms, a psychiatrist suggested that Ovsischer get a dog, a proven treatment that we’ve posted about before.
Last August, Ovsishcher got an apartment-size Shih Tzu, which he named Mickey. By all accounts, the dog’s presence has helped relieve Ovsishcher’s stress and anxiety, and the dog will even wake him when he’s having a nightmare. There’s just one problem: the building where Ovsishcher lives with his wife and two children has a no-dog policy, and the building’s owners refuse to recognize Mickey as a service dog:
Mr. Ovsishcher’s tenant lawyer, Maddy Tarnofsky, has filed a federal housing discrimination complaint on his behalf.
“The heart of this story is that there is a guy who comes to this country and enlists and puts himself in harm’s way,” Ms. Tarnofsky said. “He didn’t have to do this, and he comes back damaged and they spit on him. A doctor recommends he have a support animal, and for some unknown reason they decide that they’re not doing this for him.”
So now he may face the choice of moving his entire family or giving up the dog who has made his life bearable. The effects of the case are even causing some of Ovsishcher’s symptoms to return.
This is a story about valuing rules over compassion, and it also features elements of politics and prejudice. You would think that a man who served in the U.S. Army for 7 years would be allowed to find a bit of comfort in a tiny dog that is causing no problems for others in the building, wouldn’t you?