Monday, January 5, 2009

News: NYC Transit for Denying her and her Service Dog Access

Today's New York Daily News shares a story about a woman denied access with her service dog. The story brings some important points up for people with disabilities who are partnered with service dogs, training their own dogs, or looking for a dog to train.

1. Be careful what you say about your service dog/ service dog in training on the Internet. It could come back to haunt you. "Their legal papers draw on 8,000 pages of Stamm's Internet postings, in which she suggests Wargas' breed - livestock guardian dog - is dangerous.

"Livestock guard dogs in the subways is a wonderful sight to behold. The seas of people part before us," the former ad agency manager boasted in a 1998 posting.

In other postings, Stamm discussed dog-on-dog attacks involving her previous service dog, Mishka, a Caucasian Ovcharka that died of cancer last month.

She described livestock dogs as genetically wired with "tremendous killing power" and said Mishka could be aggressive toward elderly cancer patients because "she can smell death, and she doesn't want it near her.""

2. If you decide to sue over access denials be prepared with proof of your disabilities and your service dog's task training as it relates to your disability. See Deciding What to Train.

3. Choosing unusual animals or unusually large breed dogs may increase the likelyhood you will experience access denials with your service dog. "pony-sized dog".


cissy said...

I'm the person in this story. As someone who had educated and advocated for the civil rights of SD users, the thing that disturb me the most is the portrayal or someone with PTSD as a nut job loose cannon unable to handle a service dog.The most telling piece of unstated information is that in the 12 years that I've used a dog on the transit system, not once have I had access problems because of any misbehavior on the part of my dogs. If they weren't well-behaved, trust me, the transit system would have moved to bar me from the system on the basis of a continuing threat to passengers. We have an estimated 300,000 vets returning with PTSD. I am so concerned that inaccurate stories filled with half truths will make it difficult for them to use dogs should they so choose. I don't blog, but I am on several service dogs lists and livestock guardian dog lists. Aside from service dog work, my dogs do traditional territorial guardian work at our cabin in a remote area where bear, coyote, bobcat and feral dogs are present. A child was recently killed by a black bear; the dangers are real and I would not go into the woods without a dog, both as a deterrent and for hearing alert.
I so regret that this story has been distorted and may well make access for others more difficult. And the advice to remember that whatever you post is public should be well taken.

Melissa Mitchell said...

Dear Cissy,
Thank you for your comment and additional information about the story. I have many friends who live with PTSD and I encourage families of vets to see service dog programs working with vets