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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

News about Autism and Service Animals

"There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one." -- Alexis deTocqueville

The Orange County Register reports:

A boy with autism should be allowed to take his service dog with him when he attends elementary school, a federal court judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford granted a preliminary injunction compelling the Cypress School District to allow the dog at a Cypress elementary school until a civil trial can put the matter to rest in September 2012.

Attorneys for the school district argued against the order, contending that existing law couldn't force school personnel to look after the animal.

In his ruling, Guilford wrote that accommodating the dog would not "fundamentally alter" the school's program. However, in order to address the potential costs to the district, Guilford also ruled that the boy's family must post a $50,000 bond before the injunction goes into effect.

Paul and Milka Ciriacks in May 2010 got the $14,000 service dog, Eddy, for their son Caleb.

According to court filings, Eddy is trained to sense Caleb's mood, curbing impulsive or destructive behavior and calming him when he is feeling anxious. In the filing, the Ciriacks' attorneys cite experts who say the boy must be accompanied at all times by the service dog in order to develop and maintain a bond between them.

"Being forced to be separated from his service dog for 6.5 hours during the school day is causing that bond to deteriorate," said Maronel Barajas, a senior staff attorney with the Disability Rights Legal Center.

WDSU-TV in New Orleans reports on an odd case involving service monkeys:

A woman fighting to regain custody of her pet monkeys collapsed in municipal court Tuesday after learning from a judge she can't have them back yet.

Officials from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries took the monkeys away four months ago after they said their owner, Joan Newberger, was panhandling with them on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.

But Newberger said she is autistic and uses the primates as service animals.

WWL-TV in New Orleans covered the story back in February: