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Assistance Dogs:

With awareness increasing in society about service animals and the different functions they can perform, and the increase in abuse of the system, there have been revisions made to the laws that protect this class of individuals and their animals. We are asked all the time about what constitutes a service dog, what disabilities are covered and who certifies or trains the dogs. We encourage people to read the amended law and how it relates to their situation. There are some significant changes to prevent abuse of the protections granted by the ADA.

I have a new friend, unfortunately because he has lost his dear friend. Fred Schotz is the president of Assistance dogs of America. He has been training Assistance dogs and helping others with their dogs for many years. He uses Dobermans. Many people don't know how many people with disabilities get taken advantage of. Take for example a blind person with a friendly Golden retriever as a seeing eye dog, and he hands over his wallet to a cashier and has to hope they are honest and give him the right change. Do you think the outcome is different for a Doberman seeing eye dog? How about the number of people who are mugged because they look to be an easy target. Disabled people with a Doberman service dog are not such an easy target (see Below). I asked Fred to share a little bit of his day:

What my boys do for me is rather simple – they allow me to live alone without having to hire a person to come help me every day. My day starts with one of them (Berry Garcia for now and then when old enough him and my new puppy taking turns) helping me out of bed and into my wheelchair. The first part of the day involves lots of that kind of help as I use the toilet, get into the bathtub, etc. Once I am set for the day it is time for their walk. I pick between two different parks, one city and one county, for their walks. The smaller of those parks is 75 acres, the larger is 160 acres. Because of problems with my hands and arms I have permission to walk my boys in these fenced public parks without having to have them on leashes (it will take a few months before the puppy is reliable off leash). Beyond their walk, when I use a power wheelchair that has a top speed of 10 MPH (“walk” is a misnomer for what is really mostly a run), their real work day begins. Their day can be anything from lying near my desk while I do computer work to pulling me in my manual wheelchair through shopping centers, hospitals, large stores, etc. As an ADA consultant I am always in large commercial facilities doing inspections related to ADA litigation.

Evening is a quiet time for me and for my boys. Whether I am reading, watching TV, or staring out in space, they are always near me. They are trained (I keep writing “they” I guess it is correct as I will soon have two dogs again) to pick up things I drop, get a soda (a can) or a Snapple (a bottle) from the refrigerator, and they help me transfer between the couch and my wheelchair. Then there are the “little” things that just make life easier. From wearing backpacks to carry “stuff” for me to pulling the clean cloths out of the dryer there are just lots of little things that I teach my boys to do for me. A friend has her service dog help her to make her bed. I am going to try that out as there is no reason why a service dog can’t pull up the sheet and the bedspread. I am trying to get my mail carrier to put the mail in a cloth bag instead of in the mailbox. If she will do that then one of my boys can get the mail for me.

Going beyond me and my life, Assistance Dogs of America is the largest group in the country providing assistance to people with disabilities who have trained or who are training their own service dogs. We also have members who have program trained service dogs who need to do additional training or correct mistakes in the training. We provide everything from discussion groups where people can help each other to structured on line training programs that takes people through a year long training process. In our structured groups each owner/trainer is paired with a volunteer trainer who has years of experience training dogs in general and service dogs in particular. Our volunteer trainers range from people who have trained dogs for their own pleasure for years to people with advanced degrees in animal behavior and zoology. Each volunteer trainer works with no more than 6 owner/trainers. We evaluate owner trained service dogs based on information provided by the owner/trainer of the dogs through sworn affidavits and we provide service dog certification for those teams that meet our standards. We also “umbrella” owner trainers with trainer documentation for those who live in states where service dog in training public access laws require that the trainer be affiliated with a recognized service dog training program.

Travelling with an Assistance dog?


Hondo is a mobility assistance dog, and was trained for bracing and pulling. After spending the summer training with me he was reunited with his owner is Disneyland


Blind Jean mugged

THUGS hit a blind woman in the face and stomach and kicked her guide dog until it yelped to rob her of just pounds 2.

And yesterday victim Jean Gore told how she is living in fear after the third attack on her in three years.

The 39-year-old widow said: "I'm terrified to go outside now and terrified to stay indoors. I don't feel safe anywhere."

In the latest incident Jean was grabbed from behind at 10am on Friday as she was shopping in New Town, Birmingham, with her dog Bonnie.

The thugs fled with a tube of 20p coins and her flower-shaped earrings.

Fighting back tears, she said: "My face is really sore, but it was worse hearing Bonnie yelping because I knew they were hurting her."

Previously Jean was punched and robbed of pounds 60.,4821649


There are many more, in response to one blind person who claimed they are not easy targets with golden retrievers for example

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Last modified: 08/24/15

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