SAN DIEGO - It’s a prescription. For a dog. From a doctor. You never have to see.
A website called “TheDogtor.net” raised red flags with a laundry list of people this week.
Karin Willison, who has cerebral palsy and relies on her service dog Aria for daily tasks, sent a link to the website to 10News.
“I looks phony to me,” she said.
She said the website offers prescriptions for “Emotional Support Animals” for people who live in “no pets allowed” rental agreements. Support animals are used to cater to a patient’s emotional and mental needs. Many military veterans returning from overseas use the animals to help with PTSD and depression.
TheDogtor.net asks users to fill out an on-line survey and then sells you a doctor’s prescription that gives the right to have the dog at home, even if a landlord forbids pets.
“It bothers me because there are these fakers out there and they make it more difficult for those of us with a legitimate need,” said Willison.
After taking a 74-question on-line survey, the user is asked to choose a plan ranging between $149 to $199.
“No surprise. It was bound to happen,” said Alan Pentico, executive director of the San Diego County Apartment Association.
Pentico said they’re worried people who don’t really need a pet will take advantage of a system that protects those who do. A prescription from TheDogtor.net also means a tenant doesn’t have to pay the higher charge for pets.
“This bypasses those sort of things so we’re always going to be careful and cautious of the damages,” said Pentico.
“I just don’t think it’s appropriate for doctors to be prescribing anything to somebody they’ve never seen,” added Willison.
10News sent the website to psychologist Michael Mantell. He has written prescriptions for emotional support pets after meeting a patient in person. He said not seeing a doctor in person and doing an on-line self-examination is “not likely the best or safest way to get proper medical help.”
10News contacted TheDogtor.net but had not received a response by Friday evening,
Willison hoped the site doesn’t do anything to jeopardize the rights of people who really do need the help.