Man Letting Stepdaughter Defy Family's Wishes at Funeral Blasted: 'Leave'

A dad has been slammed for allowing his stepdaughter to take her pet rabbit to a funeral, despite explicitly being told not to.

Reddit user u/Apprehensive_Ear6657 posted that his 17-year-old daughter, from a previous marriage, recently lost her stepfather. The poster was invited to the funeral, along with his new wife and stepdaughter.

Before the funeral, his oldest daughter asked her father not to allow his 9-year-old stepdaughter to bring her emotional-support rabbit to the funeral.

Girl Brings ESA Rabbit To Funeral
Stock images of a woman at a funeral, and of a girl with a pet rabbit. A man has been blasted for allowing his youngest daughter to bring her bunny to a funeral, despite being asked not to do so. PeopleImages / Serafima

The poster explained that his stepdaughter has "horrible social anxiety" and struggles attending social gatherings. The only thing that provides her with comfort is Luna, the emotional-support rabbit she takes along with her.

The Emotional Service Animals [ESA] Registration of America lists rabbits as a possible ESA. The animals can provide a calm and reassuring presence for those with anxiety or depression. While being lower maintenance than dogs yet still easy to train, they can offer the support required for someone in need of an ESA while out in public.

However, unlike a service animal, an ESA doesn't have a legal right to go everywhere with their owner. They can be turned away from businesses or events when necessary.

"Since this funeral would be pretty crowded, we decided to let Ava bring Luna to the funeral. Isa had a problem with that," the original poster wrote on Reddit.

"Isa quickly told me she didn't think it was a good idea. Pets were not allowed at this particular cemetery. I told her this was a rabbit (what harm could it do?) and Ava had a medical reason for bringing her rabbit," the poster added.

"She begged me not to, saying her step-dad's death was already hard enough on her mom, and she didn't want any drama to make it worse. I told her I'd think about it and keep that in mind."

Despite his eldest daughter's wishes, the poster allowed his youngest to bring Luna to the funeral, creating a huge conflict between the family. He wrote that, upon seeing the rabbit, his eldest daughter "freaked out and started yelling" before she "told us to leave."

Ultimately, the poster left the funeral with his wife and stepdaughter after causing so much upset on an already painful day. He wrote that "Isa has been giving me the cold shoulder" ever since.

While there's no doubt that a pet can be an encouraging presence for someone who has a difficult time at social events, not everyone is completely sold on the idea of a rabbit coming to a funeral.

Etiquette and manners expert Lisa Mirza Grotts, from San Francisco, told Newsweek that the trend of having an ESA is getting out of hand.

Grotts said: "Birds, boxers and now bunnies. I've seen it all on buses, trains and planes. It seems the support animal of choice is never-ending.

"Said animal, normally a dog, is trained to assist; birds and rabbits do not fall into this category. Further, it's one thing to travel with an animal to a long-distance location, but it's another to be without your animal for a short period of time, such as at a funeral."

Aside from the individual requiring support, Grotts added that it's important to contextualize the event that the animal is being taken to, and factor in whether it is respectful to take it.

"If someone brings a bunny rabbit to a funeral, the small mammal is going to take away from the reason for the service, to pay respects to the deceased.

"If you're sight-impaired, you will need your therapy dog. If not, consider attending the service on Zoom, or finding an emotional-pet sitter," said Grotts.

Since u/Apprenhensive_Ear6657 sought advice from fellow Reddit users on February 12, the post has received more than 8,700 votes and over 3,000 comments. Most people agree with Grotts that it was disrespectful to take the rabbit to the funeral.

One person commented: "Since when did this funeral become about you and a rabbit? You were told explicitly not to bring animal, but you went ahead and decided to disrespect a grieving family's wishes, on probably one of the hardest days of their lives."

Another person wrote: "I am over this emotional support animal nonsense. I understand that some people have social anxiety, but that doesn't give you a carte blanche to be an AH [a******] insisting that you get to bring your pet everywhere."

Newsweek reached out to u/Apprehensive_Ear6657 for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.

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