A housing complex near where I live doesn’t allow dogs, but a recent local newspaper article reported how an increasing number of residents near Aspen, Colo., are skirting the rule by getting their doctors to write prescriptions for bogus canine “therapy” companions. The federal Fair Housing Act says if you have a medical need along with a doctor’s stamp of approval, you cannot be denied the right to have your service dog with you even in places where dogs are not permitted, including homes, restaurants, and airplanes (no matter how disgusting it can be at times for everyone else). Surely there are more people who need service dogs than those who don’t but say they do. Yet you have to wonder if all the fakers are starting to ruin it for everyone else.
Eight-year-old Kellsey McGuire was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was just 18 months old. She experiences chronic seizures that at times have numbered 90 in a single day. Kellsey’s entire family suffers with worry about her — but ever since she recently got a service dog, Jasper, they have been able to rest a bit easier, as Jasper alerts them when Kellsey is in trouble, according to KWQC.com.
Jasper began accompanying Kellsey to Sherrard Grade School in January, although less than a month later, after there were some complaints from teachers about the dog, the school banned him from the building without giving an exact reason — even though the move is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Perturbed and disturbed by the school’s refusal to accommodate her very real medical condition, Kellsey has since moved to a private school that welcomes Jasper. Her family is now suing the former district for the fees they need to pay the school she currently attends.
It’s possible that the entire faculty at Sherrard Grade School is allergic to dogs. (You know, in an impossible kind of way.) Or perhaps they’re all just such cat devotees that the idea of seeing a dog in the classroom is downright offensive.
But what seems more likely is that they are just bad people. If your livelihood is devoted to nurturing and educating small children, how can you complain about a girl who needs a dog to potentially keep her alive? This isn’t a case where someone is trying to sneak FiFi on a plane because Mummy can’t bear to be without her teacup poodle during her weekend jaunt to St. Barths, so the family physician writes her a note with a wink-wink. No, we’re talking about a very real little girl with very real health challenges.
Maybe, though, it’s dogs like FiFi and owners like Mummy who are spoiling it for people like Kellsey and Jasper. A friend told me how she met someone who lives at the housing complex in my town that doesn’t allow dogs — and the woman said she has a dog there along with a fraudulent prescription so she doesn’t have to move or get rid of the dog.
“Everyone else does it, so why shouldn’t I?” she said.
No matter that the woman has children who have been trained to lie about the “necessity” of their dog; the woman feels justified because it’s easier to cheat the system than change it from the bottom up, she said. Perhaps Kellsey’s teachers are wary of cheaters like her and therefore assume everyone is guilty until proven innocent.
Whatever the case, though, if there is a God, then Sherrard Grade School will be ponying up the tuition for Jasper and Kellsey to attend this new school. And hopefully they’ll smack themselves upside their collective heads and remember why they do what they do and for whom they do it — and they’ll reconsider how they treat people who legitimately require special treatment.
For those who are actual cheats in the “therapy” dog game? Here’s hoping their dogs’ bites (in their owners’ butts) are as big as their barks.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
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