Washington woman keeps turkey as emotional support pet

A Washington woman with lupus is trying to have her pet turkey certified as an emotional support animal.

Mary K. Pearce, of Spokane, got her pet Sammi when the fowl was a baby, KHQ reported. The bird is now six months old.

“A turkey can be domesticated just as well as a dog or a cat,” she told the news station.

Pearce, who requires a wheelchair, deals with chronic pain from her diagnosis and suffers from depression. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease characterized by flares and remissions. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, more than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country. In 2015, an estimated 16.1 million, American adults, about 6.7 percent of this group, had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Depression carries the heaviest burdens of disability among mental and behavioral disorders.

More on this...

Keeping Sammi around helps Pearce cope with her health issues. The bird loves eating bread, enjoys taking baths, and plays with Pearce’s pet dogs.

“I've never thought about having a turkey as a pet,” Pearce said. “But now that I have her, I don't ever want to give her up.”

Pearce is working on getting Sammi certified as an emotional support animal, which requires a doctor’s prescription. Emotional support animals differ from service animals in that they do not perform tasks directly related to the individual’s disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act National Network. Emotional support animals are not covered by federal laws protecting the use of service animals.