Vet faces eviction over PTSD dog
What at least one doctor prescribed, a New York housing complex says must go — a Shih Tzu that helps a seven-year Army veteran cope with his post-traumatic stress.
Eugene Ovsishcher returned from a nine-month combat tour in Afghanistan suffering nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety, leading a psychiatrist and his family doctor to advise he get a dog.
Last August he did — a Shih Tzu puppy that he named Mickey because he crawled like a mouse. Mickey woke him from nightmares and served to calm him down when he was alone and anxious.
“Take a look at his face,” Ovsischcher told the New York Times. “You can’t stay anxious or angry or whatever. You look at that face and you start laughing.”
But those in charge at his housing complex, Trump Village in Coney Island, aren’t laughing. They’ve ordered him to get rid of the dog, in accordance with their no-pets policy, or leave.
Ovsishcher says he’d rather give up his home, where he lives with his wife, Galina, and their two children, Philip, 15, and Yaffa, 10.
“I can’t get rid of a family member,” said Ovsishcher, 42, who enlisted in the Army five years after immigrating from Moscow in 1994. “If they asked me which I want to keep, the kids or the apartment, I would keep the kids. Same thing with the dog.”
Ovsishcher says that the building staff has seen him with his dog since Mickey showed up in August and that nothing was done to remove him until February, when he received a warning letter. Under New York law, a loophole allows dog owners who don’t receive notification to get rid of a dog within 90 days to keep their dogs. He also says he applied to register Mickey with the building as a comfort dog, but he was turned down.
A subway repairman, Ovsishcher served with NATO troops in Kosovo, and then as a field artillery sergeant in Afghanistan, where enemy rocket fire took a toll on him psychologically.
Ovsishcher’s 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.”
(Photo: Ángel Franco / The New York Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
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