Service dog denied access to school

Posted By elaine on August 26, 2009

service dogNormally service dogs are welcome anywhere, but not at a school near Chicago.  When an autistic boy’s family asked if his service dog “Chewy” could accompany the boy, the answer was “no”! 

  Kaleb Drew’s family says that the Labrador Retriever is trained to deal with the boy’s disabilities keeping Kaleb safe and calm at school.  Officials at the school say that “Chewy” isn’t a true service animal and only provides comfort care and that they already provide him with adequate services for his autism.

   A judge had to intervene and he allowed the duo to attend school until a court decision is made in November.  Kaleb and Chewy went to their first day of school with no problems yesterday.

   Well, obviously I love dogs and I personally would like to have my dog with me day and night, but I do have co-workers with serious allergies who puff up like a puffer fish at the mere whiff of my pooch. I can’t expect them to sit and suffer for my personal comfort, but then again, I don’t suffer from a disability in which I need  a dog.   I think if they can arrange it so children with allergies don’t have to be subjected to the animal, it should be allowed, but that could be a challenge and leave the district open for lawsuits from other children’s families.

There are no clear lines on what constitutes a “real” service animal versus a “comfort” animal.  This is segment from the Americans with Disabilities Act:

The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

  Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

_ Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.

_ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.

_ Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

Pretty vague stuff so I think Chewy will be attending school, and the school with have to adjust his presence around kids with allergies.

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