Skippy the Service Iguana Makes the Wall Street Journal

Cosmie and Skippy Jake Poehls.jpg
Jake Poehls
Cosmie Silfa and Skippy have hit the big time...
Frequent SF Weekly readers -- and riders of the 14-Mission bus -- may be familiar with Cosmie Silfa. Actually, while Silfa is a fine fellow, he's not nearly as memorable as his constant companion, Skippy. Skippy the service iguana.

Silfa and Skippy were featured prominently in the 2009 SF Weekly cover story, Service with a Snarl regarding the proliferation of service creatures in our fair city. We also chronicled Silfa's successful struggle to keep his service lizards (yes, plural) in his subsidized apartment.

Well, now he's hit the big time. Silfa happily called us up today to note that "Skippy made the Wall Street Journal -- national!" And it's true, too.

Silfa and Skippy are contrasted with Maxx, a small dog its owner knowingly passes off as a therapy pet -- when it's really just a pet. Silfa, the article notes, carries his doctor's "prescription" for Skippy with him at all times. We can attest this is true; he proudly showed it to us in his reptile-crammed, incredibly hot apartment:

"To whom it may concern, I am the treating psychiatrist of Mr. Cosmie Silfa," reads the well-worn letter written on his behalf by Dr. Cynthia Resendez. "I have been treating Mr. Silfa for depression. His pet iguana, Skippy, helps him to maintain a stable mood as she provides companionship and motivation for him to stay well. She is an essential component of our treatment plan, and I recommend she continue to be able to live with Mr. Silfa in his apartment."

As the WSJ article notes, however, changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act slated to take effect next month will limit the creatures acceptable as "service animals" to dogs and, in some cases, horses. Iguanas did not make the cut.

It remains to be seen how this will affect Silfa's life. In the meantime, he says he was very pleased with the WSJ article, and bought one for his son in Rhode Island. He'd have bought one for us, too. But at $2 a pop, that'd be pushing it.

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John Colby
John Colby

This shouldn't affect Cosmie Silfa's right to keep Skippy in his apartment as an "emotional assistance animal" or "therapy animal" under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) of 1988. The FHAA covers all housing, including housing covered by the ADA.

However, Silfa may not be able to use the other provisions of the ADA to take Skippy on public transportation, to take Skippy into restaurants, into hotel rooms, and into other public and private venues covered by the ADA.

Please refer to:

http://www.bazelon.org/LinkCli...

San Francisco: don't let The John Stewart Company wrongly try to take Skippy away from Cosmie Silfa . . .

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