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Cat and dog dander allergies

I started this post to open discussion about a few of my frustration in dealing with allergic asthma and trying to attend public events.

One problem is service animals in my state are out of control… Not the animals.. Everyone has them here. And the law is not well written to adequately prevent falsifications, or abuse of need for pet, or ability of store owners, etc, to protect themselves and their customers.

In Florida, this is the part of the service snimal law that upsets me the most****:

(f) A public accommodation may exclude or remove any animal from the premises, including a service animal, if the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it, the animal is not housebroken, or the animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. ******Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to an individual with a service animal. If a service animal is excluded or removed for being a direct threat to others, the public accommodation must provide the individual with a disability the option of continuing access to the public accommodation without having the service animal on the premises.

Why would allergies not be valid reason??

Or a threat? What is more threatening than an Asthma attack, or anaphylaxis?

Then, it goes onto say in the statute that one reason a person may have a service animal is TO ALERT THE INDIVIDUAL OF THE PRESENCE OF ALLERGENS.

??? Really??? So you can HAVE a dog for allergies, THAT you lawmakers take seriously,  but you can't ask a person with a dog not to go into your store because of your allergies? Or someone else's? How about 30% of asthmatics, or 15% of the general population who are allergic to dog dander?

My allergists office had a person bring a dog in the waiting room on more than one occasion, I had to wait somewhere else. I didn't think that was fair… Most of the patients in there are there for allergies and asthma. I filed a complaint, the lady said, there is nothing we can do, they do not need to be labelled or have documentation anymore, she said. I'm wondering his often and well their carpets are cleaned in there. 

Hopefully my new medication Nucala will help my reactions be less severe than they have been in the past. Although this serious allergic disease I have is lifelong, chronic, and I feel so far from the point I want to be at. I do not want to fight these laws, because its too hard, and I am not qualified, but I cannot go on airplanes ever again, I have to move lines checking out ast home depot, and the malls and pharmacies are not even safe places. Its like, my disability is not compatible with their disability, and it is because allergies and allergic asthma is not taken seriously and there doesn't appear to be anyone fighting the battle for their rights. Our rights.

Studies have been done on Children with asthma/allergies who take classes with kids who own cats: "Children in classes with many cat owners ran a 9-fold increased risk of exacerbated asthma after school start compared with children in classes with few cat owners, after adjusting for age, sex, and fever and/or sore throat. Thus, asthma symptoms, PEF, and the use of asthma medication in children with cat allergy may be affected by indirect cat exposure at school."

Read More:

There have been studies where interventions such as not allowing cat owners in schools, or having school clothing has significantly reduced cat dander in air and on carpets:

 

No studies with dog dander yet on symptoms, but

Levels of Dog allergen in houses with Dogs may reach high levels, usually over 10,000 ng Can f 1, the major dog allergen, allergen/g dust (12). Explained from another angle, exposure to Cat or Dog allergen airborne in homes with an animal can be up to 100 times higher than exposure to mite allergen (13, 14). Levels in homes without Dogs are generally 10 to 100 times lower but can still be detected.
 
Occasionally, high Dog allergen levels can be found in households without a pet, if the former occupants of the same household have had a pet, or if Dogs often visit the building (14). Similar findings have been reported from other studies. High levels of Can f 1 (> 10,000 ng) were found in dust in all but 1 of 50 homes with Dogs and in 8 of 50 homes without Dogs (28).
 
 
It is hard for me to say, my reactions are very severe and my disease is not exactly common, (it is called Churg Strauss Syndrome, and I was diagnosed after taking Singular for 2 years while living with cats and a dog at my (now-ex)boyfriend/ child's father house, and the singulair worked initially very well, but it is being tied to an increasing number of Churg Strauss diagnoses, and I think it is because it covers up allergic symptoms, but does not resolve some of the quieter ones, like eosinophils…  But back to topic):
Doesn't the animal service law seem unfair? Or am I being weird? Am I wrong? Am I overreacting to a harmless substance… Because… It is not harmless to me. I had a heart attack from eosinophils (produced from allergic reactions to cat and dog dander) surrounding my heart, now I have a chronic disease I am having difficulty managing. I have since moved into a petfree home and become dducated on my triggers snd allergies since I moved out of the guys house after he chose his pets over my son and I (sad story). I have a 4 year old son with cat and dog allergies (some food and environmental as well).
And we have no protections in law, no safe places to go that aren't being taken over by… And I am sure most of these dogs in the malls and stores are pets.. They are chows, poodles, lap dogs… There are so many…!!!! … Fake service animals that are difficult to prove because they do not have to be trained or have documents… And others that are for any diagnosis a person can think of… Like a person who's dog winks at you when its your med time… Get an alarm?… More every day…. The law was meant for blind people not lonely people or people who substitute dogs foir family members…  This is not OK to me… Because it is hurting my health and my ability to do anything ���������� 
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Comments 9

  • Shea

    (I am sorry about the typos, I am on a small device and apparently over-reliant on spellcheck which I realize this does not have) It won't let me edit it for 15 minutes, I will try to come back and fix).

  • Kathy P

    I know it can be challenging typing on mobile devices. I've been known to churn out some doozies when I'm in a hurry.Our edit window is 15 minutes. If you need something edited, someone on the community team can do it.

  • K8sMom2002

    Shea, I hear the frustration in your voice — and the fear. And the isolation. It is absolutely mind-boggling to me that an animal would be allowed into an allergist's waiting room!

    You ask if you are overreacting to a harmless substance — I think the best person to answer that would be your doctors, and it sounds like they have. 

    We can only control what we can control, and it sounds as though in your state you don't have a lot of control over the way the animal service law is enforced. 

    Even though you say this:

    I do not want to fight these laws, because its too hard, and I am not qualified,

    I think you are VERY well qualified. You are passionate about this subject. You understand the way the law doesn't work. 

    Is there a compromise? I'm sure there is. Will it be hard to get? Yes, you're right about that. 

    But it has to start somewhere, and you are passionate and well-informed on the law in your state. 

    You could start by:

    • Turning the post above into a letter to your legislators and to the legislators who originally sponsored the bill.
    • Seeking out a friendly "ear" in the local media — the newspaper, the local TV network, a local all-news radio station and suggesting they do a story on this.
    • Asking your allergist if he could at least post a sign reminding people that, while service dogs are allowed in the waiting room, that the waiting room is shared by severe asthmatics who are allergic to pet dander. 

    I have faith that someone as passionate as you can be the change in the world they want to see. Can you solve it all by yourself? No. Should you have to? Certainly not! But can you start the ball rolling?

    I think you already have.

  • Kathy P

    Shea – I finally had a chance to really read through your post. Hugs…it's so frustrating.

    It does sometimes feel like there is a hierarchy of disabilities. The allergen alert dogs are for alerting to food allergens which are are mostly likely anaphylactic and life threatening. In general, environmental allergies are not (that is not to say that they can't lead to other life threatening situations such as an allergy-triggered asthma attack). We see these same type of issues in the food allergy space – how to keep kids with food allergies safe without interfering with the liberties of others. The debate is often very charged.

    If you were to advocate for changes in the regulations regarding service animals, how would you propose getting things more balanced? What policies would you like to see?

  • Jen

    And I am sure most of these dogs in the malls and stores are pets.. They are chows, poodles, lap dogs… There are so many…!!!! ..

    Shea – I brought this up in the roll call thread too, but will repeat it here.   The type of people you mention above is what really gets to me the most.  They are the ones who give those with a legitimate need for a service animal a bad name.  We are seriously considering a service dog for our son who has nonverbal autism, runs away, etc.  I sure hope that by the time we get around to that, people aren't so burned out on seeing pets everywhere just for the sake of taking pets places.

  • Shea

    Thank you for the responses. There is a lot to consider.

    K8SMom, I really like the idea of asking if the allergist can post the sign about being mindful of people with dander allergies, just so that it brings awareness to the issue, and the person with the disability can consider that when choosing whether to bring the dog into that particular venue is necessary or if it can be accomplished another way.

    Kathy P., to answer your questions about my thoughts on solutions, I would like awareness of dander allergies to be made more public and taken more seriously. 

    I would definitely change the law in section f from:

    Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to an individual with a service animal.

    to

    Allergies ARE valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to an individual with a service animal.

    How could it be legal to ask anything else from a person?

    And perhaps, if there are two disabilities that are incompatible, that both are respected… not a hierarchy of who's life is more valuable, or who is more adversely effected… or even who is more common, but we need to accommodate both of these people.

    How can we accommodate both of these people?

    My thought for solution is designated areas (like we have for smokers and nonsmokers)… some people have to smoke, some people cannot be around it. Obviously smoke is not good to breathe in and can trigger asthma and make breathing even in normal people more difficult. Also true, with the number of people with allergies to dander, and its effect on numerous diseases both common and uncommon ranging from asthma, to anaphylactic reactions (which can occur in response to dander), it is an indoor environmental concern and a human rights concern. So I would piggyback on smoking and non-smoking laws and policies.You have a right to have a service animal, just like a person has a right to smoke cigarettes, or eventually smoke medicinal marijuana…. what about the other sides rights… if you cannot contain the secondhand effects, then that is infringing on other peoples and establishments rights. Designated areas for service animals is the only solution I can think of.

    No allergic person should be forced to be in an enclosed space with an animal they are allergic to. If a person's disability cannot be controlled with a non-animal, they should not be refused service, but made alternate and reasonable accomodations. Both asthma, and service animals are now common enough for this to be addressed.

    Dander removal is difficult. Ask any severely allergic person looking for a home or apartment. Ask them why they cannot buy used furniture. Even if the dog is asked to leave because an allergic person is present…. there are times when dogs are on that carpet, in that room, when they are not present, and it does not just go away. And it is not fair of people to have to ask each time. Designated areas, rules on enclosed spaces, definitely helps. Whatever used to be a smoking section should now be a service animal section. Places that used to allow service animals inside enclosed spaces and/or near food preparation areas, should now require an outside designated area for those to wait and/or eat with service animals. Not inside because you cannot keep the place free of dander and that does place too much on the establishment, to ask them to make the area clean from dander when animals are allowed in and out all day.

    Service animals should be trained and the person with the disability should be required to show proof upon the animal, so that the people in the establishment know the difference between a person bringing their pet in and a person who needs this animal to survive. It would help deter the "fakers", like Jen brought up, if only the people who legitimately NEEDED that animal to function had them (like a blind person who NEEDS a seeing eye dog or they cannot get around at all and there is no mechanical alternative), then the numbers might be so small that the indoor pollution would not be effected significantly enough to cause high indoor dander levels, although allergies should still not be an invalid reason to not have a person with a service animal be in the same vicinity as the allergic or asthmatic person. That is why documentation is important, to reduce the number of fakers and help establishments enforce the law.

    I thank you all for believing I can make a difference and do what I can do, and it is helpful for me to be reminded of that. You are right, there are people I can contact, people in the office/establishment, lawmakers, and the media. There are solutions out there, ones I have not even thought of I am sure.

    My main concern, that is taking up all my time and resources right now, is keeping my son and I's HOME environment free from PETS (as opposed to service animals) that we are severely allergic to.

    My son's father has refused to find a home for his pet.

    My parents and 2 of my siblings did find a home for our aging family dog. They did clear there home of dander over a 6 month period. They do understand that, with my disease I cannot be around cat and dog dander, and that my son is allergic to dander as well. And that acknowledgment and positive response gives me hope. It gives me hope any time I hear an empathetic ear, or one that opens up options and solutions.  

    The courts, I am hoping will not force my son to have timeshares in a home with a dog he is allergic to, and not force me to send his belongings and clothing back regularly for the rest of our lives, back and forth, when my reactions are so severe and its negative effect on the often life-threatening disease I currently have. I will feel a lot better and more hopeful once that determination has been made.

  • K8sMom2002

    Shea, interesting on the dander free zone … that might be an option, not sure. I'm curious to know what the response would be if you sent in the letter to your legislators.

    When is your next court date?

  • Shea

    I am still waiting foir the guardian ad litem to collect medical info from my son and I's doctors, speak with them, and finish the investigation. She will then speak to Tommy and I, and give her report to the judge, and we will have a final hearing, but no date yet on that. My last email to the guardian ad litem included the following references and study, which may be helpful in her investigation and Antoine else who might need info on dog dander allergy: (I posted this info on the other animal dander foirum as well).

     

    > Reference 1: Mayo Clinic> Cats and dogs>> Allergens from cats and dogs are found in skin cells the animals shed (dander), as well as in their saliva, urine and sweat and on their fur. Dander is a particular problem because it is very small and can remain airborne for long periods of time with the slightest bit of air circulation. It also collects easily in upholstered furniture and sticks to your clothes.>> Pet saliva can stick to carpets, bedding, furniture and clothing. Dried saliva can become airborne.>> So-called hypoallergenic cats and dogs may shed less fur than shedding types, but no breed is truly hypoallergenic.>> >>> Reference 2: Dog dander allergens> "Direct or indirect contact with animal allergens frequently causes sensitisation.>  > Animal allergens are major components of house dust."> reference 2:  online source:> >> Reference 3: WebMD> Your Environment and Dog Allergies>> Most allergists agree that although medication may help, the best way to control dog allergies is to avoid contact with dogs. Here are some tips:>> Keep your distance. Don't touch, pet, or kiss a dog. As best you can, avoid going to homes with dogs. If you have to stay in a house with a dog, ask if it can be kept out of the room in which you'llsleep for a few months before your arrival.> Use your medicine. If you know that you'll be coming into contact with a dog soon, start taking your medicine a few weeks ahead of time. By taking medication preventatively, you might stop an allergic reaction before it starts.> Be wary of visitors who own dogs.Dog dander can cling to clothing and luggage. So even if your house guests leave their dogs at home, they can bring the dander with them — and that can cause you a lot of trouble.> It often takes months before the level of dander in the house drops down to a level resembling that of a house without a dog.>> >> Study A: Dander Exposure and Allergy/Asthma Symptoms> "The results show that dog hypersensitivity is an important cause of allergic disorders in asthmatic children, and that the common presence of dog dander antigens in our environment may induce dog allergy even without direct exposure to dogs."> study A Online link:> >> study A reference source:> Vanto T, Koivikko A. Dog hypersensitivity in asthmatic children.> A clinical study with special reference to the relationship> between the exposure to dogs and the occurrence of hypersen-> sitivity symptoms. Acta Paediatr Scand 72:571-575(1983).

  • K8sMom2002

    Shea, best of luck on your hearing … you sound as though you've really worked hard to prepare for this and get your ducks in a row. I hope the judge is very understanding of health issues in general and allergies and asthma in particular.