Monday, November 28, 2011

Need a service dog? Use a chair?

Hey readers,
This note is from the website of Summit Assistance Dogs, the program that trained and placed Shilo with me. Summit typically places dogs around the Northwest and requires several visits prior to placement with an average 2-3week team training. If you think you can meet these requirement an need a service dog because you are a wheelchair user, contact them.
Special note about service dogs for wheelchair users
Summit currently has very few applications for service dogs for clients who use wheelchairs and need assistance with tasks such as retrieving items, opening/closing doors, tugging clothing off, etc. We have several dogs in training who are going to be ideally suited for this type of placement. This means that the wait time to be matched with a dog may be much shorter than the usual 2-5 years. If you are a wheelchair user looking for a service dog, we encourage you to begin the application process by contacting

News: Fair Housing Lawsuit Filed Against the University of Nebraska at Kearney for Discrimination Against Students with Psychological and Emotional Disabilities

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK), the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and employees of UNK for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against students with disabilities.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Nebraska, charges that UNK and its employees engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Fair Housing Act or denied rights protected by the act by denying reasonable accommodation requests by students with psychological or emotional disabilities seeking to live with emotional assistance animals in university housing. The suit also charges that UNK requires students with psychological disabilities to disclose sensitive medical and other information that is unnecessary to evaluate their accommodation requests.   This lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by a student enrolled at UNK who sought to live with an emotional assistance dog that had been prescribed.  Read More

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shilo and The Airport Relief Area-Seattle/Tacoma International

 Earlier this month Shilo and I flew for the first time in our partnership to attend the Association of University Centers on Disability Annual Conference in Washington both self-advocates and staff of a university center for excellence on developmental disabilities. Shilo had traveled and flown before we were matched, so I was not worried about her ability to handle the unique environments and experiences. She was not happy about getting up at 3 a.m. or missing breakfast on the day we flew out, but she handled everything like the season professional that she is (with minimal griping perceptible only to her partner) impressing everyone with her calm, cool, quiet demeanor. Comments about Shilo throughout the trip included:
"Wow, I didn't even there was a dog on the plane!She's so quiet!"
"I wish children were that good, while flying!"
"My dog would never be that good!"
"We love to have these dogs fly!"
"She is so attentive to you."
On the way out to D.C. we barely had time to deplane, take me to the bathroom and run to our connecting flight, so Shilo had to hold it from 4:30 a.m.PST until 6:30 p.m. EST. Doing the math, that means that she had 11hours between potty breaks. That is why I follow the "high and dry" rule when flying with a service dog wherein the dog skips the meal closest to flight time and free access to water ends and hour before the last chance to empty themselves before entering the secured area of the airport. While on the plane she gets ice to keep her her from becoming desperately thirsty without having so much water that she needs to relieve herself.

On our return trip we had a layover in Seattle at Sea/Tac International Airport with two hours to wait, so I decided to see if we could find the pet relief area inside the "sterile" or secured area. I went right up to the Horizon service counter and asked how to get to it. To my great delight, they not only knew what I was talking about; they knew where it was. Sadly, that was the end of my delight.
While I able to find the  potty area. accessing it or using it would not have been possible If I had been traveling with someone we would not have been able to:
1. Get through the doors. It was a double door entry without much room for maneuvering a chair and manual, heavy doors.
2. Clean up after ourselves. The room had two pee pads on the floor, but no more provided for putting additional pads or clean ones after cleaning up. There was a poo-bag dispenser that was empty. No cleaning supplies for disinfecting, keeping the room clean and smelling fresh..
There were also two three foot deep boxes of litter that stunk to high heaven, hadn't been cleaned in who knows how long, and had no tools available for cleaning up after your dog after they completed there business. The room smelled so much of ammonia; it took my breath away. So, while I was grateful Shilo could relief herself; I was trying not to pass out from the smell of the room, and worried that she was being exposed to germ and bacteria that might make her sick.
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News: Comments Needed on Service Animal Relief Areas in Airports

The Department of Transportation is seeking comment on service animal relief areas in airport by Nov. 28, 2011.
Service Animal Relief Areas

    The 2008 amendment to part 382 requires U.S. and foreign air 
carriers to work with airport operators to provide service animal 
relief areas at U.S. airports. Part 27 does not include a provision 
that mirrors this requirement. As such, the Department proposes to 
amend part 27 by inserting a provision that would require airport 
operators to work with carriers to establish relief areas for service 
animals that accompany passengers with disabilities departing, 
connecting, or arriving at U.S. airports.
    Part 382 does not provide specific directives regarding the design, 
number, or location of service animal relief areas an airport should 
have; it simply requires carriers to provide service animal relief 
areas in cooperation with the airports and in consultation with service 
animal training organizations concerning the design of service animal 
relief areas. However, in a Frequently Asked Questions document issued 
by the Department's Aviation Enforcement Office on May 13, 2009, 
examples of factors airlines and airports should consider in 
designating and constructing areas for service animal relief at U.S. 
airports are provided.\1\ Factors to consider in establishing relief 
areas include the size and surface material of the area, maintenance, 
and distance to relief area which could vary based on the size and 
configuration of the airport. The Department seeks comment about 
whether it should adopt requirements regarding the design of service 
animal relief areas and what, if any, provisions the rule should 
include concerning the dimensions, materials used, and maintenance for 
relief areas.Read More
 People can submit their comments online!documentDetail;D=DOT-OST-2011-0182-0001

Sunday, November 13, 2011

News: What Does the Evidence Show Us? The Role and Benefits of Autism Service Dogs

"Dr. Thomas Zane is a professor of education and director of the Applied Behavior Analysis Online Program at the Van Loan Graduate School of Endicott College. He is a licensed psychologist in New York and Massachusetts. Dr. Zane has published in various journals and books, presented at regional, national, and international conferences, and been an invited lecturer in Ireland and the Republic of China. His research interests include teacher training, staff development, and evidenced-based practice in autism. As part of his duties at Endicott College, he offers a BCBA certificate program through distance learning.
Animals have long been used to provide unique services for individuals who need specialized assistance in some way. For example, Seeing Eye dogs are trained to provide assistance to persons with visual impairments to negotiate the physical environment. In addition to providing such basic services as security and protection, animals have been used to provide emotional and psychological comfort and support to people (e.g., Hall & Malpus, 2000). In fact, it has been experimentally shown that social interactions can increase simply by being in the presence of a dog (McNicholas & Collis, 2000).
The increasing incidence of autism spectrum disorders has resulted in an increase in therapies designed to treat this condition. A recent development has been the training of dogs to specialize in working with persons with autism spectrum disorders. Proponents of “autism dogs” assert that these dogs can support the unique challenges of persons on the spectrum. This article reviews the current knowledge and research in this area." Read More