Veteran with PTSD may lose home because of his dog

When Eugene Ovsishcher returned to the U.S. after a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, the shell-shocked serviceman suffered from flashbacks, nightmares, and debilitating anxiety attacks.

Eugene Ovsishcher and his Shih Tzu, Mickey. (Photo credit: Ángel Franco/The New York Times)

After a visit with his doctor, it was determined that Ovsishcher suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The doctor suggested that the veteran get an emotional support dog to help him manage his symptoms.

Following doctor’s orders, Ovsishcher adopted Mickey in August 2011. Mickey, a Shih Tzu, has proved to be the lifesaver that the veteran needed.

“He helps me to calm down my anxiety. And sometimes when I’m stressed out, he helps me to overcome without using the strong medicine,” says the seven year U.S. Army veteran. “He is my medicine,” he adds of Mickey.

Ovsishcher can’t imagine his life without Mickey. “Take a look at his face. You can’t stay anxious or angry or whatever,” says Ovsishcher of the little Shih Tzu. “You look at his face and you start laughing.”

But unfortunately, things aren’t all smiles at the New York co-op Ovsishcher and his family call home. Trump Village has a no pet policy, and despite the Army veteran’s requests that the housing complex make an exception for his therapy dog, Trump Village has refused.

Ovsishcher, his wife Galina, and his two children, Philip and Yaffa, face eviction from their apartment if they do not get rid of Mickey.

In response to the ultimatum given by the housing complex, Ovsishcher contacted attorney Maddy Tarnovsky and has filed a discrimination suit against Trump Village.

“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,” says Tarnofsky. Ovsishcher immigrated to the U.S. from Russia in 1994 and joined the U.S. Army several years later, Tarnovsky explains. “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.”

After all the little Shih Tzu has done for him, Ovsishcher says he will not give up Mickey, no matter what.

“I can’t get rid of a family member,” Ovsishcher says of Mickey. “If they asked me which I want to keep, the kids or the apartment, I would keep the kids. Same thing with the dog.”