Remember that time I had to go to the police about an applicant? One we invited to interview, but they reacted super negatively about it to the point that I actually needed to go to the police station? After that, I, for some reason, thought that dealing with charity applicants would be plain sailing.
Surely, I thought, I will not have another applicant who is anywhere near as shitty? Bless you, past Letti, in your wrongness.
You might remember that I have been worried about an applicant, not only about raising the money to pay for supplies for them, but also about their general situation. They told me they broke both arms, and their spine, because of having seizures. They said they have seizures at least every other day. They said they lost their job because of epilepsy.
Their first contact with the charity was because they were buying a German Shepherd x Collie for the purposes of seizure alerting. I did warn that this is not something that can be trained into any old dog; because we still don’t know how it is that dogs detect oncoming seizures, it is impossible to train for it, and dogs need to have an aptitude that can be shaped. Seizure response tasks are somewhat easier by comparison.
So yeah, I explained that it wasn’t a guaranteed thing, and they should know that before bringing a dog into their lives who will, more often than not, not be able to do what they want. They got as much free advice out of me as they could, but at some point I told them they were going to need to apply to the charity.
Honestly, every piece of communication with them was so much harder than it needed to be, and this should have been my first warning.
They contradicted themselves a lot. They talked about “taking a dog everywhere.” They were more interested in jackets and the earliest age the dog could qualify, than the training involved and the actual assistance gained.
The actual application form contradicted some of the points in the emails. This was a 20 year-old woman with a similarly-young husband. She said she couldn’t leave the house or get a job due to epilepsy, but listed an employer on her form. She said their house had no outdoor area for a dog to toilet (in which case, getting a dog is a bad decision), but I’ve seen pictures of it online, so why say they don’t have one? There are so many bizarre, off-the-cuff lies and contradictions.
Another huge red flag was that the people in this woman’s life were pretty damn alarmed to find out that she suddenly had epilepsy and wanted an Assistance Dog. We’ve seen a lot of her social media, and it’s just a clusterfuck of ~*Special Snowflake Syndrome*~.
The reactions of people she actually knows have been very telling.
But anyway, I went through the verification process. Because of the severity of the symptoms described, though, I did a dumb thing. I got too emotionally involved and I worried too much. I actually LOST SLEEP imagining this person seizuring down the stairs and dying because I took too long to teach their dog anything useful.
So I decided to invite them to interview before waiting for the medical and veterinary reports to come back, not only for the above reason, but because they had just bought a damn puppy and so they urgently needed to start following the training booklet before the ideal socialisation window passed.
I expected things to move pretty fast from that point. I made a training booklet, printed the member handbook and the CIO constitution for the application pack (and had to buy new ink cartridges!) bought a folder to put it all in, put together the stuff I would need to assess the dog, wrote out custom interview questions etc.
And then it stalled, because they really dragged their heels. I suggested dates and times, and they initially agreed before later coming up with an excuse. The one before last was that she had accidentally been scheduled to work, despite originally telling me she couldn’t get a job because of epilepsy and had almost daily seizures.
For people who were absolutely desperate to have a trained Assistance Dog, they had suddenly gone very cold on the idea of doing anything about it. It became virtually impossible to get an email response out of them.
And then I found out why.
The epilepsy specialist nurse that this woman had listed on her application, wrote back to me. This woman was not a patient, and was not on the hospital database.
Wow, right? It happened again! An applicant referenced a medical professional they have never been to, and just assumed that we wouldn’t check up on whether they were actually disabled.
The dog’s vet said that although the dog was registered, it had never been to the clinic. This especially pissed me off, because I told the woman to send the application in AFTER her puppy had it’s first check-up. She just plain didn’t take it for one.
Obviously, I sent an email about this, which took a while to get any sort of response. The veterinarian issue still has not been addressed by the applicant, but they were all “I’m going to ring the specialist because I’m definitely a patient” and this of course never came to anything.
I said we were still willing to go ahead with the interview and discuss it. The night before we were due to meet, at 8:30 in the evening, they said they were trying to find transport.
Sorry, but what the fuck? You leave it ’til 8:30 the night before to arrange a lift to Hampshire, when you’ve had more than a week’s notice? These are not the actions of somebody who is serious about, and in need of, Assistance Dog training. Why would you be so woefully unprepared for your dog’s assessment and your application interview?
Then, at a ridiculous time in the morning, I get an email from a new address; it’s in the applicant’s pre-nonbinary-transgender name, and claims to be written by her husband, while sitting in A&E because the applicant has had a really bad seizure, and now they won’t be able to attend the interview.
I have several questions about this. Namely, why the hell, if the husband needed to contact me, would he use an email address that deadnames his wife, instead of just his own email address? And why the hell did they both continue to post online throughout this time, about shit like bees and having a title from Sealand.
So at this point, I’m not sure if they are both in on this scheme, or if the applicant herself is just fucking awful and used her old email address to pretend to be her husband, because she couldn’t use his without him knowing.
I lean more towards them both plotting together, because they both have a pretty incriminating social media trail we’ve had to save to a folder.
Both the husband and the applicant have made statements that we’ve “signed off on” doing things and that the applicant has already passed the verification process. When actually they are FAILING it rather dramatically.
They already bought a lead sleeve and hi-viz jacket, have totally misrepresented our role so far, and generally seem well prepared to fake their way through.
Plus they have been pretty fucking horrendous at handling this puppy.
This is NOT FUCKING OK
We found the aforementioned arm-breaking incidents, but they were apparently from running and not a seizure at all! And only one of the occasions actually resulted in a broken arm, not the second. The broken spine turned out to be a crushed vertebrae from a fall, not a seizure. Rather than losing a job because of epilepsy, the position was made redundant.
I just can’t wrap my fucking brain around it to be honest. Being disabled sucks fucking arse and I don’t understand why anyone would wish for it. I’m sure I talk about it enough on here already but, Jesus fuck.
The problem with Assistance Dogs becoming more well known, is that people who thrive on attention decided that they must get them. And you will frankly not believe the lengths that people will go to, just to be seen with a dog in a shop. I could tell you some stories!
Even IF, somehow, there is an explanation for what the epilepsy specialist said, and for them continuing to post online when they should have been in A&E, they have still fucked us around so much and told so many lies. It’s vile.
While I would like to say “How dare you, you EVIL BITCH” we have actually just decided to politely rescind the interview offer until they can show us the same verification paperwork that we ask of everybody else. And I will become the uncle of a literal monkey if they can actually do it.
There’s more that I could go into here, but, I don’t actually want to at this point. I’m fed-up.
I’m sure it will all turn out to be OUR fault that their doctors don’t know who they are and OUR fault that they told a bunch of lies all over the internet.
Ironically I’ve had seizures quite close together because I’ve been so stressed about all this, and I had an Ehlers-Danlos “fake heart attack” that really knocked the wind out of me. It’s been fucking grim.
It’ll probably be fine in a while. These people will fade into obscurity just like all the other applicants who have tried falsifying a disability so far. It just sucks that I’m trying to raise money to run the pilot programme, and then the people that I’m advocating on behalf of don’t even turn out to be genuine.