Workshop: Mental Health is Going to the Dogs (and Cats)

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Mental Health is Going to the Dogs (and Cats) 

(as Proposed to Alternatives 2012 conference)

50-word abstract:

Discover the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities to pets in no-pets housing without deposits/fees, size, or species limitations and/or to have (and train) psychiatric service dogs who can accompany them virtually everywhere they go. Meet a psychiatric service dog, and learn how animals help their humans with mental illness.

50-word bio:

Joanne Shortell had a successful career for three decades until her bipolar and anxiety disorders knocked her out of the workforce. She travels the U.S. with Maeve, the psychiatric service dog she trained and Sibol, her emotional support cat, speaking about our rights to emotional support animals and service dogs under federal law.

OUTLINE: 

Mental Health is Going to the Dogs (and Cats)

Summary of content:  
People with psychiatric disabilities have powerful but little-known rights in all 50 states under federal civil rights laws to have and use animals to make their disabilities easier to live with. These rights are simple and inexpensive to exercise.  Pets can aid significantly in the recovery of people who suffer from psychiatric problems and service dogs can be trained, professionally and/or by their owners, to do a wide variety of tasks to assist someone with a psychiatric disability.

Outline

What animals can do for us

Meet Maeve, the psychiatric service dog and mental health advocate

What animals can do for someone who suffers from a psychiatric problem

Q&A

Our rights to pets under the Fair Housing Act

Details of our rights under the law

Q&A

Role-play: requesting an accommodation from landlord/management

Our rights to service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Details of our rights under the law

Q&A

Role-play: How to handle a challenge when one walks into a business with a service dog

Where to find help and resources

Objectives:  
At completion attendees will:

Know the legal definitions of: a person with a disability, a service dog, and an emotional support animal

Know the following about rights given by the Fair Housing Act: what rules cannot be applied to emotional support animals, what types of housing are covered, how to request an accommodation, where to go for assistance or to file a complaint if an accommodation is refused.

Know the following about rights given by the Americans With Disabilities Act: where a service dog can go, what questions can be asked of a person accompanied by service dog, what service dogs must do, what types of things service dogs may be trained to do. How to handle a public access challenge, and where to go for assistance or to file a complaint regarding public access.

Engagement of audience: Attendees will interact with Maeve, a psychiatric service dog, participate in role-playing, and ask questions of a fair housing expert and/or of a peer who trained and uses a psychiatric service dog and emotional support animal. 

Teaching methods used: lecture, discussion, Q+A, demonstration, role-playing, and handouts.  If internet access and a projector are available they will be used.


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