My sister’s service dog case

You probably remember about a year ago I told you about the legal proceedings involving my sister and the puppy she was raising to be a service dog. The wheels of justice, as we know, grind very slowly, but finally, the case is coming before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Here’s my sister’s letter on the subject:

March 1, 2014

Dear Friends,

This letter is to bring you up to date on my complaint against the Haverford Township Free Library.

As many of you know, the Haverford Township Free Library refused to let me and Henry, the puppy I was raising to become a service dog, visit the library. As a puppy raiser I was required to take Henry to public places so that he would become familiar with these varied environments for his future service dog work. The Library takes the position that a puppy-in-training like Henry, and a puppy raiser like me, are not protected by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. I have challenged that position, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission legal staff has agreed with me, issuing a detailed decision finding probable cause to credit my claim that the Library unlawfully discriminated against me. I feel that it is important to clarify the law to enable puppies-in-training, along with their puppy raisers, to enter “public accommodations” like libraries, restaurants, subways and buses. Without such exposure and socialization, the puppies are certain to fail as service dogs.

Since the incident almost two years ago, I have approached the library several times in writing, as well as at a Conciliation meeting facilitated by the PA Human Relations Commission, making every effort to avoid a public hearing. I asked only that the library reverse its position and allow service dogs in training to enter their facility. On each occasion Haverford Township Free Library has unequivocally refused to even enter into discussion.

The next step is to proceed to a public hearing before one or more representatives of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, possibly as soon as May. The Commission lawyer feels that the case is so important that he will be sitting as “second chair” at the hearing with my lawyer. In the meantime, both the Library and I will have an opportunity to conduct discovery, including taking depositions, to determine the other side’s positions and the reasons for them.

I will let you know as soon as I learn of the time, date and location of the public hearing.

I would encourage any and all to attend, and please do forward this email to anyone you feel might be interested.

Thank you very much for all your support over these past two years.

Deborah Rosan

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