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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Service Dog Problems

Earlier posts have dealt with service dogs. The issue is ongoing.

Seven-year-old Kaitlyn Gennaro remained calm during a recent trip to urgent care, when her family thought she hurt her ankle.

Typically, her mother Catherine said, she'd be upset, crying or running around. But this time, she was fine and even went for an x-ray by herself. Her mother said it was because Kaitlyn, who is autistic, knew that Phillip, her new black Labrador from Susquehanna Service Dogs, would be waiting for her afterward.

"I don't know how we lived without him," Catherine Gennaro said.

The family thought Phillip could help Kaitlyn at school, too. But Phillip has not been allowed to attend school with Kaitlyn at Shrewsbury Elementary.

Her parents believe the Southern York County School District has violated her rights by not allowing her to bring a service dog. The district doesn't view Phillip as a service dog and says Kaitlyn's needs are being met without him.

The Naples (FL) Daily News reports:

The family of an Estates Elementary School kindergarten student is fighting the Collier County School District over whether the autistic boy’s service dog can come to school.

“You wouldn’t deny a student the right to bring an asthma inhaler to school if he had a prescription,” said 6-year-old J.C. Bowen’s mother, Elizabeth Lasanta. “My son has a prescription for his service dog.”

The Collier County School District defines a service animal as “an animal trained to accompany its owner or handler for the purpose of carrying items, retrieving objects, pulling a wheelchair, alerting the owner or handler to medical conditions, or other such activities of service or support necessary to mitigate a disability."

The Oregonian reports:

Scooter Givens had a meltdown on a school bus in September, but nobody told his mom.

That's how it's been since Disability Rights Oregon filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice to allow the 10-year-old, who has autism, to have his trained service dog at Patterson Elementary School.

For the past two years, Hillsboro School District has forbidden the dog, saying Scooter's behavior can be controlled without the German shepherd. Scooter's mom, Wendy Givens, says the dog, named Madison, improves her son's access to his education by keeping him calm.

It's been a year since Disability Rights Oregon filed the complaint on behalf of the Givens. The delay is at the federal level. The U.S. Department of Justice investigation appeared to hit a peak this summer but has since gone quiet.

The Oregonian adds a more positive story:

Canby is one of few districts in Oregon that allows an autism service dog in its schools. Beaverton is expecting to allow one this year, but Hillsboro has denied the use of an autism service dog for a 10-year-old boy at one of its elementary schools. The family filed a civil rights complaint a year ago.

Canby lacked an adequate policy to deal with service dogs and created their own, said Jeff Rose, Canby School District Superintendent.