A Chicago man was denied permission to have a service dog by the administrators of his high-rise condo on Lake Shore Drive. He wanted the dog to help relieve his chronic depression, because he feels having a dog makes him more productive as a person and in his art work. Two letters from doctors stating the depressed man would benefit from having a service dog were sent to the condo association, but had no effect, because of a no-pet policy in the building. Other residents of the building do have service dogs, however, and some allegedly keep pets secretly.
Depression can isolate people, as many people withdraw from social interaction because of external judgment or a desire to be alone. Research has shown depression can interfere with one’s capacity for empathy, and empathy for others is a key way of understanding and communicating. A lack of empathy can increase social alienation and isolation, which can worsen depression.
The Chicago man who was denied permission to have a service dog was right to seek out a close relationship with a social animal, if socializing with humans is very limited. The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners says dogs can help people with mood disorders: “Scientists view it as a biological problem, not purely psychological. With some persons, the condition becomes a lifelong struggle. A service dog can improve the safety of his partner whenever the mood disorder becomes life threatening.”
The Illinois Department of Human Rights has filed a lawsuit against the condo association on his behalf.
Image Credit: Per Harald Olsen (Perhols) / Wiki Commons