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Tag: ada

Scrooged: Shopping mall Santa turns away a little girl with a service dog

A young girl’s hopes to have her photo taken with Santa were dashed when she and her seizure-detecting service dog were turned away from an event at a New Hampshire shopping mall.

Feeling Scrooged, her mother took to Facebook to voice her disappointment about the shopping mall Santa snubbing her daughter, who has a neurological disorder called Rett Syndrome and suffers from seizures, CBS in Boston reported.

olivia“When he said Romeo can’t go in it made me sad,” said 11-year-old Olivia Twigg, whose dog attends school with her, alerts her to oncoming seizures and lays across her chest when she is having one.

“It was horrible. I just wanted to go home from the mall. It was awful,” said her mother, Jill Twigg.

The family waited in line with Romeo at the photos with Santa event at Nashua Pheasant Lane Mall, and had no intention of the dog being in the photo — just Olivia and Santa.

But as they moved up in line and neared that supposedly merry old soul, they were told not to come any closer, because Santa was allergic to dogs.

romeo“The woman taking the pictures told me I needed to remove the dog off the red carpet. I said no I’m not going to move him,'” Jill Twigg said. “He has to be able to see her. She said that was not acceptable.”

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, “allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.”

Jill Twigg said the family was told to return for “pet day,” or for the special needs event.

Twigg said she had no interest in that. “I want her to have a normal experience. She’s on a normal cheerleading team with normal children. We want to make sure she feels completely comfortable going wherever she wants at whatever time she wants.”

Cherry Hill Programs, the Santa experience provider for Pheasant Lane Mall, said they welcome all service dogs and planned to make a special appearance at the Twigg’s home.

It’s not my decision, but if I were them, I’d tell them to stuff it.

Judge allows sorority sister to keep the dog that helps her with panic attacks

entine-and-coryA judge has decided that a dog who helps a sorority sister get through anxiety attacks can remain in the Chi Omega house at Ohio State University — at least for now.

U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley on Friday granted a preliminary injunction to prohibit the university from banning the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, named Cory, from the house on the grounds that the dog was creating health problems for another sorority member.

The preliminary injunction will stay in effect until the case goes to trial, at a yet to be determined date, according to the Columbus Dispatch

Sorority vice president Madeleine Entine petitioned the court after being informed that Cory had to leave the house because he aggravated another sorority sister’s allergies and triggered her Crohn’s disease.

Given that, in the university’s view, both students were protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the university based the decision on the fact that the other student, Carly Goldman, had reserved her room in the sorority house first.

The judge, in granting the injunction, said that while Entine’s attorneys presented evidence that she had ADA protection, Goldman’s attorneys had not.

The judge said the university “did not even establish that it was Cory who aggravated the symptoms of Goldman’s disability.”

“Under clearly established law, Entine and Cory prevail,” Marbley wrote in a 21-page opinion.

Entine, a second-year undergraduate at Ohio State, has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. She has panic attacks that leave her gasping for air and at times immobile.

Goldman says she is allergic to the dog and that those allergies aggravate her Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel ailment. Attempts to sequester the dog brought her no relief.

“This case is about a thorny and largely unmapped legal issue: how the University should reconcile the needs of two disabled students whose reasonable accommodations are (allegedly) fundamentally at odds,” Marbley wrote.

While he said he sympathized with Goldman’s condition, he wrote, “While the Court does not intend to minimize the difficulty Goldman faces by living with Crohn’s disease, allergies and asthma, she has simply not established that it is Cory’s presence that causes her harm.”

Dueling disabilities at Chi Omega

541878_521680384529713_204742216_nA dog that helps a sorority sister at Ohio State University through debilitating panic attacks is causing another sister debilitating allergy attacks.

Apparently unable to work it out between themselves, or put it to a vote among the sisters, the matter of who must exit the Chi Omega house is now in the hands of a federal judge.

Madeline Entine, a second-year undergrad, obtained a temporary restraining order Oct. 26 against the university after it decided that Cory, Entine’s assistance animal, needed to move out of the Chi Omega sorority house.

A federal judge heard arguments in the case last week and said he would decide this week whether to issue a permanent injunction against Ohio State, allowing Entine and her 8-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel to stay at the sorority house.

Entine sued under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

But, as the university sees it, that act applies to Chi Omega sister Carly Goldman, as well.

Goldman says she is allergic to the dog and that those allergies aggravate her Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel ailment.

Goldman said that when she returned to the sorority house in August, her allergies flared, leading to digestive issues.

Entine says she suffers from panic attacks severe enough to restrict her breathing, cause her to hyperventilate and render her immobile.

Her dog Cory is trained to react to her condition by climbing onto her torso.

Although the dog isn’t allowed on the second floor, where Goldman stays, his hair or dander can still end up there, Goldman testified in a hearing on Entine’s request for a permanent injunction.

Cory rested in Entine’s lap while she watched Goldman’s testimony last week, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

L. Scott Lissner, the university’s ADA coordinator, said the university decided that, since both students are protected by the act, Goldman should be given priority because she signed up for her room first.

He said the university offered to move Entine and Cory to other university housing, but she declined.

Entine is a Chi Omega chapter vice president, which requires her to live in the house, she says.

U.S District Judge Algenon L. Marbley is expected to rule on Entine’s injunction request this week.

(Photo: Entine and Cory, from Madeline Entine’s Facebook page)

Mom misses son’s wedding after church refuses to admit her PTSD service dog

A church in Michigan refused to admit the mother of the groom to his wedding, saying its rules prohibited dogs inside the church — even service dogs.

Mary Douglas says her PTSD service dog, Stella, wasn’t allowed into the Word of Life Outreach Center in Quincy, causing her to miss the ceremony.

According to its “statement of faith,” as presented on its website, the non-denominational church believes in “One True God” and “Divine Healing” and “speaking in tongues.”

But apparently it does not believe too strongly in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As a result, Douglas was left saddened and angry about missing her son’s wedding.

“I’ve sacrificed as any single mom, any mom really, does for their children. For that not to be reciprocated, that honor not to be due to a mom on her son’s wedding day, it’s heartbreaking,” Douglas said.

Douglas has had the service dog for almost two years, and says she feared having a “relapse,” if she entered the church without Stella, according to WWMT in western Michigan, which first reported the story.

“I’ve cried a lot. It was a very sleepless night last night,” Douglas said.

Douglas has filed a civil rights complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Pastor Robert Montgomery said the church tried to work with Douglas in the weeks leading up to the wedding, giving her “three options” to attend.

He didn’t specify what those options were, and neither did the news report.

It also didn’t address why the son and his bride-to-be held the wedding at the Word of Life Outreach Center, given in all likelihood they — or at least he — should have learned at some point that his mother would have difficulty attending.

Montgomery says the church has a “no animal policy” and that the policy that includes service dogs.

“The difficulty we find in letting animals in, so people know, if you have people that have a fear of animals or an allergy to animals, it makes it very difficult,” he said.

How many ways can we say helper?

new-yorker-dog-cartoon

Ahhh, words. They can be almost as fun to play with as dogs — and that’s just the beginning of what words and dogs have in common.

Words, like dogs, can be used to befriend, repel or attack, depending on the person behind them. Both can inform us, frustrate us, console, entertain and enthrall us. Words, like dogs, can bite or soothe. Both need to be used responsibly.

And, given we humans created both of them, it is up to us to safeguard them and, once in a while, stand up for them — as in, for example, when they are being abused.

Generally, both words and dogs are at their best when they are unrestrained.

And yet sometimes they need to be restrained.

And yet too much restraint can make them dull and lifeless, sucking out all their natural spirit and joy.

It’s not this week’s presidential debate that’s sending me off on this wordy tangent. It’s the word “facility,” and the growing use of the term “facility dog.”

In a post last week, I lauded the University of Southern California’s decision to add a “facility dog” to the staff of its student health center — but I poked a little fun at the term.

“Facility dog” is a cold, undescriptive and institutional-sounding label, in my view, that just doesn’t go with the goldendoodle’s playful given name, Professor Beauregard Tirebiter.

Beauregard is trained as a therapy dog. Calling him a “facility dog” — no matter the reason behind it — disguises that fact. Words are supposed to clarify, not obfuscate.

I don’t like the idea of labeling a dog based on the building in which he works, as opposed to the noble work he is doing.

But, most of all, I just don’t like the word “facility.”

USC didn’t come up with the term “facility dog;” it is being used increasingly to describe a dog — generally a therapy dog — that is based in a particular hospital, nursing home, school, prison, mental institution or other … well, facility.

emotionalIn journalism school, I was taught not to use the word “facility,” because its meaning is so vague and the mere sight of it tends to put people to sleep.

But it’s also, in its vagueness, a safe word — the kind bureaucracies like, not just for their political correctness, but because it lets them avoid plain talk, clarity and specificity.

“Facility dog is an official certification as designated by Canine Angels Service Teams,” reads a comment sent into ohmidog! from someone at USC’s health center, in response to the post.

“While his credential is ‘Facility Dog,’ the University of Southern California has given him the title ‘Wellness Dog’ as his intended purpose is to enhance the wellness of students on campus.

“He does not work in a therapy/counseling setting, but rather as a staff member in the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion. As such, he is not a pet and does not violate the USC policy referenced in the article.”

(I pointed out in my post that USC has a no-pets policy, only to suggest that maybe it’s time — given all dogs do for us, given “wellness” should be achieved campus-wide as opposed to just at the Student Health Center, given all dogs, in a way, are “wellness dogs” — to give those antiquated rules another look.)

I almost hate to say it, but I’m not too keen on “wellness dog,” either. It, too, is vague and touchy-feely and fails to describe the work Beau is doing.

But it’s a little better than “facility dog.”

“Facility dog” makes it sound like Beau is manning the boilers. “Wellness dog” makes it sound like he’s dispensing medication, taking blood pressure and giving nutritional advice.

Google the term “wellness dog” now and you get links mostly to the dog food that uses that name, or pet insurance companies only to happy to provide your dog a “wellness plan.”

But “wellness dog” will surely join the ranks of terms used to describe dogs that are trained to help us humans cope.

There are already enough of those terms to thoroughly confuse the public —
service dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, comfort dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs and seizure dogs — and my personal favorite “companion animal.”

“Companion animal” is what we used to call a pet. As in:

“Hi, I’m John and this is my dog, Bowser. Do you mind if we use the facilities?”

“You are welcome here, just make sure your companion animal uses the fecal matter containment system.”

“You mean a poop bag?”

“We try not to use that term.”

The surplus of terminology for dogs who help us is first and foremost a reflection of just how incredibly much dogs help us — with disabilities, with illnesses that range from diabetes to epilepsy to PTSD, and with all the other obstacles, fears and anxieties that get in our way.

Those distinctions become important because different dogs, depending on their label, have different rights.

service-dog1Under the legal definition, service dogs are those trained to perform tasks for an individual with a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental disability.

A service animal is entitled to accompany that person anywhere members of the public are allowed.

Emotional support dogs, comfort dogs and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Assistance dog” is a catch all term to describe them all, and is not a legal category.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need all those distinctions — and any dog that is helping a person cope would be allowed to accompany that human to a restaurant, workplace, etc.

But, in an ideal world, the word “facility” wouldn’t exist, either.

Canine Angels, the outfit that provided Beauregard to the university, says on its website that it trains and provides service dogs, “social dogs” and “facility dogs.”

It defines facility dogs as those that “are placed with teachers and health care/rehabilitation professionals whose clients/students can benefit from the therapeutic qualities that a well-trained dog can offer. These dogs can provide emotional and unconditional support and can be used by their handlers to motivate and reward clients/students. Facility Dogs live with their handlers and are only allowed public access to the specific facility at which their handler is employed.”

Sometimes, those handlers are called … wait for it … facilitators.

I doubt that there is any significant difference between what a therapy dog is trained to do and what a facility dog is trained to do. Similarly, I’d go out on a limb and say a “wellness dog” and a therapy dog likely receive identical training.

Therapy dog is a perfectly fine term, and there’s no need to put a mask on it.

When a university decides it wants to have a writer on campus, allowing him or her to pursue their mission while their brilliance rubs off on the student body, they call him or her “writer-in-residence,” not “facility writer.”

Dogs deserve at least that much respect.

Euthanasia, or murder?

zeus1“Euthanasia” isn’t really the correct word for what animal shelters do to dogs.

When a dog is in pain, the use of the word may be apt.

When it’s not a mercy killing — but an act that takes place because a shelter is overcrowded — calling it euthanasia, as much as that may make it more palatable to the public, is a misnomer.

And it’s definitely not the word to use when a shelter worker takes their neighbor’s dog — without their neighbor’s knowledge — drives it to the shelter and gives it a lethal injection.

An animal welfare employee in Ada, Oklahoma, has has been accused of animal cruelty after allegedly doing just that.

Marteen Silas, a certified animal euthanasia technician for the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), took her neighbor’s dog — a pure white Siberian Husky named Zeus — because it was chasing her livestock, according to court records.

She then allegedly drove the dog to PAWS and “immediately euthanized it with a schedule II controlled dangerous substance,” KFOR reported.

KFOR obtained a recording of a telephone conversation in which a former PAWS employee, Jim Nowlin, says Silas tells him why she killed the dog.

A voice he claims to be Silas’ is heard explaining the dog was “a punk” who was “chasing our cows, and chasing our horses.”

Two employees told investigators Silas knew the dog was her neighbor’s, and that she told employees to keep the procedure a secret.

PAWS officials said Silas is no longer employed at the shelter.

A Facebook page has since been set up, demanding justice for Zeus.

Justice: Lawyer fined for snubbing service dog

justiceA Colorado Springs attorney accused of not allowing a disabled woman and her service dog into his office because he feared his new carpet might be soiled will pay $50,000 as part of a consent decree approved by a federal court today.

A November 2009 complaint accused Patric LeHouillier of violating the Americans with Disabilities act by barring Joan Murnane, a veterinarian with brain and other injuries that affect her balance, from entering his  law office because her service dog was with her.

The complaint says LeHouillier and his firm, LeHouillier & Associates, expressed concern that the Australian shepherd might soil its new carpet, according to a report in Westword.

That decision, under the consent decree, will cost him $50,000 —  $30,000 for Murnane, $10,000 for her husband and another $10,000 for a civil penalty.

“For almost two decades, the ADA has ensured that individuals with disabilities are guaranteed full and equal access to public accommodations, both large and small,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is unrelenting in [eradicating] discrimination against people with disabilities and ensuring that owners and operators of public accommodations recognize their obligations to provide equal access.”

The consent decree was approved by Judge Marcia S. Krieger in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

Under its terms, LeHouillier and his firm will be required to adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy and post the policy in a conspicuous location, post a “Service Animals Welcome” sign, and provide training to staff.

The press release noted that a service animal is any animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability — and that the classification is not limited to dogs that assist the blind.

It includes, the press release says, dogs who alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, warn persons about impending seizures or other medical conditions, perform tasks for persons with psychiatric disabilities and provide physical supports for individuals with mobility issues.

More information about the ADA, including how to file an ADA complaint with the Justice Department, is available on the ADA home page at www.ada.gov.

The Justice Department also has a toll-free ADA Information Line (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

(Photo: Cafepress.com)