Some of you have been following my sister Deborah’s service dog case. She was fired from her librarian job, partly for bringing the puppy she was raising to be a service dog into the library on her day off. The whole two-year thing is too long and complicated to go into, and ended in a Consent Decree hammered out in the parking lot as the hearing was about to start; but in the end it became about one issue: are puppies-in-training “service dogs” and are their puppy-raisers in the protected class of people who must by law be allowed to bring their dogs into any establishment. Logic dictates that the answer is yes, because how does a service dog know what to do in various situations when it’s with a disabled person unless it’s been in a similar situation as it was being trained?
The library system for whom my sister worked thought otherwise, however. The case ultimately ended up before the PA Human Relations Commission. Deborah wasn’t asking for damages and she wasn’t asking for her job back. All she wanted was a determination that service dog puppies and their puppy-raisers had the same rights as working service dogs and their owners.
And finally, she won! Here’s her press release:
This is a marvelous day for puppy raisers, handlers and trainers of guide dog puppies in our Commonwealth. Full public access will provide guide dog puppies with the experiences and exposures they require to become confident and effective service dogs.
The entirety of this case revolved around one incident the evening of May 1st.
Entering Haverford Township Free Library that evening with guide dog puppy Henry was, on my part, a principled action; an action motivated by moral and ethical integrity. The response of Haverford Township Free Library was a personal attack.
My gifted, talented and good humored legal team spent in excess of 300 hours on this case. Several opportunities for settlement were offered to the Library over the past two years. It is regrettable the Library refused those offers, spending tax payer money on a prolonged legal process.
I have accepted the terms of the Consent Order requiring of me:
an apology for media coverage concerning my termination as a part time worker at the Library, unrelated to PHRC Case No. 201106080
a permanent banning of me from Haverford Township Free Library
These are terms I choose to meet in order to accomplish my goal of assuring public access for all puppy raisers across the State of Pennsylvania. That goal accomplished, I am delighted.
Next, Deborah appeared before the Full Panel of the PA Human Relations Commission and made the following statement.
Honorable Commissioners, August 25, 2014
I thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. I am the complainant in PHRC Case No. 201106080, Rosan vs Haverford Township Free Library. I am here today on my own, without counsel, and not as an official representative. I have met some of you earlier this month in Media Pa, and to you I would like to apologize for your having made that trip. The Consent Order agreed to by both parties was prepared to be offered in similar form by my lawyer and myself at a Conciliatory Meeting facilitated by the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission almost one year ago. At that time Haverford Township Free Library was unwilling to enter into discussion.
However, by mindful choice, I am an optimist, and I am profoundly grateful for the full Commission’s ultimate involvement in the case, and the opportunity to further educate the public on the unequivocal need of public access for puppy raisers, trainers and handlers of guide dogs puppies.
Among the disabled populations helped daily by service dogs are our Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Tragically, 23 veterans commit suicide daily. The average wait time for a service dog is over 2 years. The ability of these service dogs to support their partner to live with dignity and independence is ineffable. Nacent organizations, as well as individuals, committed to the raising of guide dog puppies, require full public access such that when the puppies become adult service dogs they are confident and competent in a wide range of public settings.
As this Commission continues to study and address the issue of public access, I humbly ask of you to stay true to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act:
“The provisions of this act shall be construed liberally for the accomplishment of the purposes thereof…”
It is my understanding that today the full commission will be reviewing the Consent Order between Haverford Township Free Library and me, and it will then be signed and madde official. I thank you.
And lastly and with your permission, I would like to present the Commission with several books and articles, adult and children’s, fiction and non-fiction, on the subject of service dogs.
Ambassador Dogs, Lisa Loeb
Assistance Dog Tasks reprinted with author permission Joan Froling IAADP, Chairperson,
International Association of Assistance Dog Professionals (IAADP) Minimum Training Standards
Teamwork 2 Training Manual published by Top Dogs, Arizona
The Golden Bridge, Patty Dobbs Gross
Thunder Dog, Michael Hingson and Susy Flory
Tuesday Tucks Me In, Captain Luis Montalvan
Until Tuesday, Captain Luis Montalvan
So how about that!
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