Sunday, July 20, 2008
DogsBite.org - The Department of Justice is currently revising the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Sections of the act that will be amended include service and therapy pets. Currently, there are no formal training standards to qualify an animal as a service or therapy pet. Many of the revisions the DOJ has made, however, are helpful, including the distinction that animals whose sole purpose is to provide "emotional support" are not service animals.
DogsBite.org is concerned about the growing effort of pit bull owners and other animal groups that advocate pit bulls as "excellent" service/therapy pets. We believe these groups may hoodwink disabled persons into believing that a pit bull is a safe dog. We are also concerned how the DOJ defines an "attack dog." In the Minimal Protection area the DOJ writes: "excluding from coverage so-called 'attack dogs.'" But what is an attack dog?
Does a dog have to attack once before it is labeled an attack dog? In many instances, a violent attack is a pit bull's first attack. Pit bulls were selectively bred to hide warning signals before an attack. The degree to which a person "does not know" whether or not a pit bull will attack is high enough to exclude the breed from all service animal work. Neither the community nor a disabled person can afford pit bulls being used in this area.
Back in January, two pet pit bulls attacked and killed one of their owners. The victim, Kelli Chapman was 24-years old. The family believes the dogs attacked her because she suffered a seizure while sleeping. The genetic traits of this dog do not make them a suitable service dog. The death of Kelly Chapman is a concrete example. Disabled individuals need dogs that can help them, not dogs that kill them while they are enduring a seizure.
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Definitions. Service animal means any dog or other common domestic animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, assisting an individual during a seizure, retrieving medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and assisting individuals, including those with cognitive disabilities, with navigation. The term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental disabilities. The term service animal does not include wild animals (including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including any breed of horse, miniature horse, pony, pig, or goat), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents. Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals.
Service animals. The Department wishes to clarify the obligations of public entities to accommodate individuals with disabilities who use service animals. The Department continues to receive a large number of complaints from individuals with service animals. It appears, therefore, that many covered entities are confused about their obligations under the ADA in this area. At the same time, some individuals with impairments -- who would not be covered as qualified individuals with disabilities -- are claiming that their animals are legitimate service animals, whether fraudulently or sincerely (albeit mistakenly), to gain access to the facilities of public entities. Another trend is the use of wild or exotic animals, many of which are untrained, as service animals. In order to clarify its position and avoid further misapplication of the ADA, the Department is proposing amendments to its regulation with regard to service animals.
Minimal protection. In the Department's ADA Business Brief on Service Animals, which was published in 2002, the Department interpreted the minimal protection language in its definition of service animals within the context of a seizure (i.e., alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure). Although the Department received comments urging it to eliminate the phrase "providing minimal protection'' from its regulation, the Department continues to believe that the language serves the important function of excluding from coverage so-called "attack dogs'' that pose a direct threat to others.
Guidance on permissible service animals. The existing regulation implementing title III defines a "service animal'' as "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal.'' At the time the regulation was promulgated, the Department believed that leaving the species selection up to the discretion of the individual with a disability was the best course of action. Due to the proliferation of animal types that have been used as "service animals,'' including wild animals, the Department believes that this area needs established parameters. Therefore, the Department is proposing to eliminate certain species from coverage under the ADA even if the other elements of the definition are satisfied.
Comfort animals vs. psychiatric service animals. Under the Department's present regulatory language, some individuals and entities have assumed that the requirement that service animals must be individually trained to do work or carry out tasks excluded all persons with mental disabilities from having service animals. Others have assumed that any person with a psychiatric condition whose pet provided comfort to him or her was covered by the ADA. The Department believes that psychiatric service animals that are trained to do work or perform a task (e.g., reminding its owner to take medicine) for persons whose disability is covered by the ADA are protected by the Department's present regulatory approach.
Proposed training standards. The Department has always required that service animals be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, but has never imposed any type of formal training requirements or certification process. While some advocacy groups have urged the Department to modify its position, the Department does not believe that such a modification would serve the array of individuals with disabilities who use service animals.
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| 7/21/2008 2:38 PM |
I would also like to add that pit-bull propaganda groups have gone to great lengths to confuse the terms "service dogs", and "therapy dogs". Therapy dogs ARE NOT considered BY LAW in the United States to have the same status as SERVICE DOGS. Service dogs directly assist their handicapped owners with daily tasks in some fashion; therapy dogs are handled by their owners to assist others at specific times, such as visits to a facility.
If you look at organizations like Guiding Eyes for the Blind, they have been breeding their own line of guide dogs since the mid-sixties; looking for potential dogs in shelters and through random breeders was not working, since most dogs failed to meet the rigourous standard required of guide dogs. Many other types of service dog programs use their own breeders, also; the making of a service dog starts with the breeding, and working with the pup from the time it is born through careful handling exersizes and socialization. Pit bulls are exceedingly rare as service dogs; and are never listed as a recommended breed by any of the major service dog organization.
The term "therapy dog", however, is a very loose term; there are informal situations where one may consider a dog a "therapy" dog, because the owner brings the dog into a LTC facility for visits. My mom was in an Assited Living Facility whre the secretary brought her Lab to work. The aides would regularly bring the dog into the common areas to visit the residents and help with OT exercises by having the dog fetch tossed objects. The dog had no formal training or certification.
Certified Therapy dogs must generally pass the CGC test,and be evaluated by a recognized therapy dog organization.
As far as claims that pit bulls are often used as therapy dogs, it simply doesn't hold up; yes, some pit bulls are indeed certified therapy dogs, but if you go to any therapy dog organization website and look at the "members" pictures of participating dogs, again, pit bulls are RARE. This can be quantified, if you take the time, searching therapy dog websites across the country. Pit bull advocates bank on the fact that if they keep insisting that these dogs are commonly used as therapy and service dogs, people will believe them.
Its all part of the misinformation campaign aimed at protecting the for-profit breeders of these dogs.
| 8/15/2008 10:46 PM |
Sent to DogsBite.org via email:
People who use handicapped parking seem quite okay with getting a mirror hanger so everyone knows that this soul needs special accomodations. When buying Bingo packs at BJ Bingo in the line that is for the handicapped they have to show their blue card. When I got my senior Gold Card from the City of Seattle, I had to show my ID to prove my senior status. Actually it is nice that we understand that everyone who has a disability does not especially look like a stereotype. I am often told I do not look like I am 63 years old, and I am never offended.
So what is the big deal with the service dogs. It would seem that those who really need one and expect us to respect the dog and them, would want to respect those who they want respect from. Dogs have to have a license attached to them if they are to be in the public, what would be the harm if the service dog had a license showing they are trained to do what the owner needs - without training what is their value and how are they in fact then different from just a dog?
I support the idea of certified training, licensing, and id that is visible to the average person, store owner, or driver. We are taught in general not to pet, bother or confuse a service dog, and I respect this and would expect that others respect it. They are working.
There is in the United States a vast difference between rights and priviliges. Rights have been fought for and are protected under the law. The rights for ADA was a hard fought battle by many not in need of this right. For those who are protected under the right and see it as privilege are wrong. Privilege is taken and assumed, not earned. So, yes, DogsBite.org and friends, keep up the fight on this one and store owners keep asking. It seems that the legitimate owners and utilizers of service dogs would want one that is well trained for their need, that they are identified, so those perpetrating do not tread on the rights of others. Vest with a identifier of some kind means no one has to say anything to anyone.
I like the stores who can not enter an alcohol sale without proof of ID, that protects the store and everyone else. Some clubs card everyone, whether they look 21, 15, or 72, that is fair.
I was knocked down twice by two different unleashed dogs and still suffer from the injury - at the time I did not know that as I aged the injury would surface. This was after passage of the leash law. We seem to be sticklers about laws that some of our population break and then we look away when laws are broken by those who think they should have the privilege of doing what they please.
In Seward Park those with boom boxes were sent packing under the decible law for noise. But in this same park we are told the city (Animal Control and Police) does not have enough personell to respond to off leash calls. Let me tell you the police were on it several years ago when the population in Southeast Seattle changed and they did not enjoy the music of those who thought the park belonged to them and they felt privileged to play their music as loud as they wanted. I like the quiet but I do not like that we can not seem to rid the park of nuisance dogs off leash. And I do not like that our police seem to see calls about them as nuisance calls. One morning my walking partner and I called the police to report an unleashed dog that was threatening and his owner who was more threatening. We were told they did not have any available, that it was a busy time, it was 7 A.M. Ironically, when my walking partner and I got to local coffee shop a mile away, there were two patrol cars parked outside, I thought that is why they were busy someone had held up the place. No, once inside there were 5 officers enjoying coffee. When telling them about the call and the answer, they were embarrassed and said that they would have responded had they been given the call. Enough said about that.