My sister’s service dog case, redux (or, re-dogs?)

Some of you have been following the absurdity of my sister being fired from her library job for “insubordination,” one element of which was that she brought the service dog puppy she was raising in to the library on her day off. The current situation is in her letter here. Thought you might like to know, especially those of you in the Philadelphia area.

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, and most recently during the first set of depositions this past April 23 where we offered a consent order, making every effort to avoid a public hearing. The PA human relations Commission was willing to clarify the role of puppy raisers, and the puppies in training with them, as protected classes. The name of the library did not appear in the consent order. Haverford Township Free Library rejected the consent order and offered no counter proposal.

The next step is to proceed to a public hearing before one or more representatives of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. 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.

The Public Hearing is August 12 & 13 with expert witnesses from HERODOGS and NORTH STAR DOGS. I would encourage any and all to attend and please do forward this email to anyone you feel might be interested.

Deborah Rosan

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