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Tag: disabilities

It’s my gun show and I’ll cry if I want to

gunshow

Let’s all join together in a giant boo-hoo for Thomas Allman, who says his health was put at risk when a service dog entered his gun show over the weekend.

Allman kicked out the dog — and the Bronze Star-winning veteran the dog accompanied (that’s them above) — saying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) didn’t apply to them at his gun show. He explained his reasoning this way:

“It doesn’t apply because he’s not setting up at my gun show because we don’t allow dogs in my gun show,” he told Fox 14 News. (Click the link for video.)

The nerve of that veteran! Thinking he could just waltz into a gun show and put everyone else’s health at risk with a dog that helps him cope with injuries he received during his nearly 20 years of service in Iraq.

Did he give any thought that his actions could result in sneezes and stuffy noses among anyone who was allergic (like Allman) as they innocently shopped for new deadly weapons to add to their home arsenals?

Former U.S. Army Sergeant John Williams went to the Tri-State Gun Show at the armory in Evansville on Saturday as a vendor, but he was asked to leave because of his service dog, Winchester.

Williams, appropriately, raised a stink, and called the police, waiting outside for them to arrive and hear his complaint that his rights, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, were being violated.

Winchester was assigned to Williams by the Soldier Dogs for Independence group to help him with mobility.

The president of that group Michael Barrentine, was called to the gun show once he heard what was going on.

“There’s so much irony,” he said. “You have a 21 year veteran of the United States armed forces that’s disabled due to his military service that’s getting kicked out of the armory …”

Williams says he is still contemplating filing charges.

Thomas Allman stages several guns shows a year in Indiana (and whatever other two states comprise the “tri-state” area), allowing folks to show off, buy, sell and trade guns.

Something less than full scrutiny, apparently, is applied to those buying them: “They’ll ask them if they’re a felon or not and all we can do is take their word that they’re not,” Allman once said in a TV interview.

Allman is all for nurturing an environment in which guns can be freely sold and exchanged — something he says is necessary in today’s world.

“What would you do if ISIS came to your door today and you didn’t have any way of protecting yourself? They will come here. They’re coming folks so you better be prepared for them.”

So feel free to bring your guns to the show (unloaded please, he asks). Just don’t bring a dog.

Allman says dogs haven’t been allowed to sit at booths at his shows for the last 20 years. Apparently, he considers it OK for paid guests to bring service dogs, but not vendors (who pay a $50 registration fee).

“You want to come in the gun show and sell your guns, or walk around and look and trade guns with your service dog, we have no problem with that,” Allman said.

Under the ADA, “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.”

Allman is allergic to dogs — “I can’t stand to be sick and be put in the hospital” — and apparently gets a little anxious when they are around, as he also does amid talk of laws restricting gun sales.

ftwaynegunshow“Just cause they don’t want one, what’s the right to take anybody else’s away from them?” Allman said in a 2015 interview. “That’s my problem with it and I can’t handle that… This is what we do for a living and have a hobby of doing it and love doing it. It’s freedom. We’re in the United States. It’s freedom.”

Apparently, as he sees it, he’s the one who gets to define freedom. So his shows don’t allow cameras or news media past the entrance, don’t allow service dogs, and insist you don’t enter with a loaded weapon.

(That didn’t stop a visitor, and a drunken one at that, from loading up his .45 caliber handgun after he entered, firing it and injuring a a 72-year-old man and 16-year-old boy during the 2011 show in Evansville.)

We’d suggest that if Allman can’t handle service dogs, he stop holding public gun shows, or hire a representative to oversee them, or take a Zyrtec, or conduct his arms dealing online.

(Photos: At top, Williams and his dog, Winchester, WFIE; at bottom a photo taken at a gun show in Ft. Wayne)

“They were the best person for the job”

A home improvement store says a disabled vet and his service dog were “the best person for the job.”

So now you can find them, in matching employee vests, helping customers at the Lowe’s in Abilene.

Clay Luthy says he has had Charlotte since she was a puppy.

texas-lowes-dog“She was never supposed to be a service dog. I found out a couple years ago she was alerting me and I didn’t even know it,” said Luthy, who always has Charlotte at his side at work.

“I was trying to figure out where I could go that would be a good fit and it wouldn’t mind having Charlotte, and my wife said I was at Lowe’s so much anyway, I might as well get a job there,” he told KIDY.

“We knew he was gonna make a great employee – we just got the benefit of getting Charlotte right along with him,” said Jay Fellers, Lowe’s human resources manager.

The duo has been getting some news coverage since Judy Dechert Rose, a customer at Lowe’s, posted the image online last week:

“This is a retired vet who struggled to get a job because he needs his service dog! Lowes hired them BOTH!!” she wrote.

Luthy, who served in the Air Force, said he was surprised when it went viral.

“By the time I looked at it, there was 1,000 comments on it. Oh my gosh, it was ridiculous,” he said.

It wasn’t the first Lowe’s to hire an employee AND his service dog.

Back in June, a Lowe’s in Saskatchewan was in the news for hiring Owen Lima and his dog Blue.

(Photo: Facebook)

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.

Is the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest getting too ugly?

sweepee

A Chinese Crested-Chihuahua mix with malformed legs and an “oozing sore” won this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog contest.

SweePee Rambo took home the title Friday night at the annual Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, beating out 15 other malformed and/or offbeat pooches, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported Saturday.

wurtzJudges in the contest, now in its 28th year, take into account bad appearance, bad odors, poor complexion and a host of other maladies, inherited and acquired — some of which, maybe, we shouldn’t be laughing so hard at.

Or even with.

I’ve already noted my growing dicontent with the contest, starting two years ago, when the winner was a dog whose appearance was believed to be a result of abuse — albeit abuse inflicted by a previous owner.

That — and the fact that the once-cute and well-intentioned little contest has become big business — led me to stop regularly reporting on it, at least in that cutesy manner that chuckling anchorpeople cover it with year after year.

Somehow the party atmosphere at the event — all the pageantry and hype — seems especially wrong when the appearance of some of the contestants is a result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.

There’s no evidence that SweePee — who is mostly hairless, blind in both eyes, has to wear diapers and has a tongue that sticks out — was mistreated. Still, I’m not sure an oozing sore should be celebrated:

“Judge Neal Gottlieb seemed particularly impressed with a sore on SweePee’s leg, noting dogs get extra points for ooze,” the Press Democrat article said.

I get what the contest was, originally, all about. But I also get what it has become, which is a little too big, a little too cut-throat and a little too prone to bestowing awards on the most disabled dog.

Owner Jason Wurtz, 44, of Encino, won a trophy and $15,000. He says he will use the money to pay for the removal of a tumor that recently popped up on SweePee’s gum line.

(Top photo by Peter Dasilva / EPA; bottom photo by Alvin Jornada / Press Democrat)

Owners surrender dog at Florida shelter, then take her wheelchair home with them

angieWhen I hear about someone surrendering their dog at an animal shelter, I do my best — though it’s not always easy — to withhold judgment.

Maybe that person or family is facing some hard economic times. Maybe the dog has become ill and getting him or her health care is beyond their means. Maybe they themselves have become unable to care for the dog.

I try, especially when details of the situation are scant, to give those humans the benefit of the doubt.

But I’m having an especially hard time withholding judgment on the Florida dog owners who surrendered their paralyzed 2-year-old cocker spaniel Sunday to Miami-Dade Animal Services, because — before leaving the shelter — they asked for the dog’s wheelchair back.

The owners said the dog, named Angie, had lost the use of her hind legs about two weeks earlier. They took her to a veterinarian, who prescribed oral medication and recommended further diagnostic procedures for the dog.

The owners said they were unable to afford the tests and decided to surrender Angie.

Then — for reasons I can only guess at — they said that, while they were leaving their dog there, they wanted Angie’s wheelchair back.

Perhaps it was a rental. Perhaps they had another dog back home that needed it. Perhaps some agency had provided it to them on a temporary basis.

I hope one of those is true, and that they aren’t trying to sell the device on eBay. That — dropping off their dog but taking home that dog’s only means of getting around, in hopes of making some profit — would lead me lose a bit of faith in my fellow man.

On a happier note, Angie’s plight quickly became a cause on social media, and she was scheduled to be sent from the shelter to a sanctuary yesterday.

As a new resident of Lovey Loaves, an animal sanctuary in Orlando, Angie will receive a new set of wheels and be whisked to Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital, where her condition will be reviewed.

“We have had luck with past rescues in our care improving some or completely reversing paralysis using acupuncture, laser therapy, hydrotherapy, HBOT, etc… but it just depends on many factors, so we’ll have to see,” Lovey Loaves posted on its Facebook page.

“Even if she will not recover from her paralysis we know that she can still lead an extraordinary quality of life,” the post continued. “Were surrounded by wheelie dogs everyday (four in our own home!) We’ll get her a new set of wheels (we like Eddie’s Wheels for Pets) custom fit to her precise needs and measurements, and then she’ll roll with the best of them. Many many MANY folks offered to buy her a new set of wheels.”

The organization reported that it has already received enough donations to get the wheels, but contributions can still be made for Angie’s care.

“The Present”

This animated short was shown at more than 180 film festivals and won more than 50 awards in the two years after its release in 2014.

Now the makers of “The Present” have posted it on Vimeo for all the world to see.

Jacob Frey and Markus Kranzler were students at the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany, when they worked on the film together.

“Kangaroo dog” draws crowds in Peru

A dog born without her front legs has learned to get around by hopping on her rear ones like a kangaroo — and she’s becoming a bit of a tourist attraction in Peru.

Estrella was abandoned on the street as a puppy, but taken in when she was six months old by a couple that runs an animal shelter in the small town of Tinga Maria, according to Reuters.

While many have asked to adopt her, Ivan Escobar and his wife Elva Carhuaz, who operate the shelter, say they plan to keep her.

The dog’s presence has led to an increase in visitors to the shelter, and more donations to help care for her and other dogs.

Elva Carhuaz said Estrella helps increase awareness about stray dogs and about dogs with disabilities.