International Association of Assistance Dog Partners PARTNERS FORUM Volume Thirteen, Number Two Fourth Quarter 2006 PHOTO CAPTION: The Guide Dogs for the Blind Alumni Association honored IAADP President, Ed Eames Ph.D. and his wife Toni with a Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2006 for their inspiring contributions to the assistance dog movement over the last twenty years.
Editor: Joan Froling
Date of Issue Dec. 2006
All rights reserved.
FEATURES YOU SHOULDN’T MISS Assistance Dogs Europe Conference
Dilemma for Colleges - Pet or SA?
ADA Title III Enforcement
Service Guide Dogs Available
New Benefit from Nutramax Laboratories, Inc. Dasuquin™ is a new joint health supplement for dogs representing the next generation in joint health support. It contains the ingredient ASU combined with the glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate from Cosequin in a tasty chewable tablet (same taste as Cosequin). ASU works along with the glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to support a dog’s joints. In fact, cell studies have shown that glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate plus ASU works better than glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate alone. Dasuquin is also available in a formula with MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).
Nutramax Laboratories, Inc. will be offering Dasuquin and Dasuquin With MSM at no charge to an IAADP Partner Member in the USA for his or her active assistance dog beginning in January. Cosequin will still be available for those members who opt to continue administering Cosequin.
Editor’s Note: IAADP is thrilled to learn that Nutramax will be making this expensive new product available for assistance dogs in the USA so as to preserve the health of their joints. I’m one of those who have experienced first hand how Cosequin can have a rejuvenating effect on an older assistance dog, abating the some of the stiffness and soreness that seemed to be a consequence of the aging process. Younger dogs will benefit too, especially those who perform strenuous tasks or engage in vigorous exercise that can put a lot of wear and tear on the cartilage in their joints. This new product with ingredients which can boost the effectiveness of Cosequin is one that must be prescribed by an assistance dog’s veterinarian. The procedure is the veterinarian must have his staff call the 800 number for Nutramax on the back of your Partner Member ID Card and request a six month supply of this product be shipped to his office for your assistance dog. If you prefer the Chewables to the capsules, he must specifically request the Chewables. A copy of your Membership ID Card must be faxed to Nutramax Laboratories, Inc. by the veterinarian’s office staff when the initial request is made. [ please remember....a member is never to contact any donor directly. If you have questions about this benefit or any others, please contact Tanya, our Membership Coordinator at 513-245-2199 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you cannot reach her and the matter is urgent, please contact me at 586-826-3938 or email me at email@example.com with your questions] To find out about other benefits provided by Nutramax Laboratories, Inc. to IAADP members, see the List on Page five.
Our website is also a good information resource. The Benefit section, linked to the Membership section, just above the Application, has articles you can print out to facilitate communication with your veterinarian if he or she is not familiar with IAADP. We mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org post updates to those articles, like a change in our benefactor’s phone number or procedure, as needed, so you may want to check there before taking your dog in for his or her annual check up and to request a product like Cosequin or Dasuquin.
PHOTO CAPTION: Wendy and Caesar at the ADE Conference in Sweden
Assistance Dogs Europe Conference 7th Annual Conference held in Malmo, Sweden
27th to 29th October 2006
by Wendy Morrell
IAADP Board Member
Partnership from Dogs for the Disabled, U.K.
Assistance Dogs Europe (ADEu) is an organisation dedicated to supporting the work of assistance dog programs across Europe. In 2005 I attended the annual conference in Salzburg, Austria and presented the findings from my pan European access survey for assistance dog partnerships, this year I was invited back to speak once again on the subject of access and to hopefully build upon the work started last year.
The conference got off to an interesting start for me, as on the first morning I was asked to leave breakfast in the hotel restaurant as they didn't want my assistance dog there! A quick word in a few chosen ears saw that the problem was resolved, but that one encounter crystallised my feelings that access in Sweden isn't what I have come to expect in the UK or the USA. The previous day a taxi driver had attempted to charge me triple fare because of the dog, not exactly an auspicious welcome.
The conference was attended by representatives from assistance dog programs across Europe, and it was good to see many familiar faces and catch up with progress in other countries during this year. Proceedings began with a welcome by Ingela Thalen (former Swedish Minister of Social Affairs) and Peter Gorbing (President of ADEu and Chief Executive of Dogs for the Disabled in the UK). There were three days of packed sessions and workshops with varied topics including, stress in animals, dog welfare, building & kennel design, recall training, how to start research in your organisation, temperament testing in dogs, measuring stress in dog trainers, dogs for children with autism, team training a dog for diabetes assistance, a partnership testimony and access.
My session was entitled "Access with an Assistance Dog" in which I examined what access means to different people who are partnered with an assistance dog; and how expectations tend to develop and evolve during the life of a partnership. Like many other people who are partnered with an assistance dog, I have had my fair share of access refusals, and at the conference I teased out some of the different types of refusal I have experienced. Some refusals are straightforward; no dogs allowed, others are a little more complex, the "No dogs except Guide Dogs" type of thing. For me it is important that the general public get a standard message about assistance dog partnership, a guide dog is the same as a hearing dog, and is the same as a mobility assistance / service dog, and is the same as a medical alert dog; in respect that they all are partnered with a person with a disability and all perform valuable roles. I don't care which type of assistance dogs have been around the longest, I don't care which organisations are bigger, I care about equality for people with disabilities. I very much feel that when you allow people to talk in terms of access for one type of assistance dog, you give them permission to discriminate against every other type of assistance dog partnership.
I really don't buy this "people don't understand what an assistance dog is, so let's talk about guide dogs and other assistance dogs " philosophy … IF the public don't understand what an assistance dog is …. make it your business to tell them! It is so important that we are all singing the same song and that partnerships be given the same rights of access regardless of the task of the dog.
I urged programs and partnerships not only to look at access in their own country, but on a European / continental level; to look at standards that all dogs need to achieve before they will deserve public access and to consider how the public will recognise such dogs.
I asked programs to consider mentoring their more articulate partnerships to assist with access campaigns; to network with other programs and indeed with other countries, in order to gain shared goals. Much can be gained by interacting with partnerships from other countries; in fact at the conference I was able to share with some partnerships from Norway how the Shariat Council has issued a proclamation in the UK for Muslim taxi drivers on the subject of carrying assistance dogs; in the hope that they might be able to use this example to gain greater access to taxis in their own country by using it as an example.
I explained how IAADP has a role in all this too, through Partners Forum it is possible to learn about progress in other countries and become more informed about the industry which in one way or another supports us all.
Both programs and partnerships who were present were very interested in hearing about IAADP and what we, as an organisation have to offer. The literature and copies of Partners Forum that I took with me were very popular and hopefully we shall have more members from Europe as a result.
All in all it was refreshing to attend the very well organized conference and to have the opportunity to learn at first hand from others, and share experiences of my travels both in Europe and USA. By the time we left Sweden, I had realised that the two access challenges at the beginning were somewhat isolated occurences, and we travelled home via Denmark where access was very patchy. I was even asked to leave a food store there as the manager explained, "It is like having a rat in my shop", so its clear there's still plenty of work to be done!
Hopefully, by working together, programs and partnerships across Europe will be able to improve upon the somewhat patchy access provision that there is currently .
The next ADEu conference is due to be held in Bad Neuheim, Germany from 26th to 28th October 2007.
The full conference proceedings will be available online within the next few weeks at www.assistancedogseurope.info.
Newsflash for Members! Credit Card Renewals Now Possible! Good news. We have been frequently asked if member dues can be paid by credit card. We
investigated the options and for your convenience, it is now possible to enroll or renew membership in IAADP “online” at www.iaadp.org , using a credit card. We chose Pay Pal as our secure server because of its outstanding reputation and track record worldwide. Your credit card number will never be seen by IAADP or other non profits or merchants if the payment is processed by Pay Pal. It is not necessary to have a Pay Pal account to be able to use your credit card on IAADP’s website.
Those who prefer to continue to pay by check or money order are welcome to print out the Application on the website and mail it to Tanya Eversole, our new membership coordinator and database manager, at her Cincinnati address
Service Guide Dogs Available
Paws With A Cause would like to announce the reinstatement of our Service/Guide Dog program! This program, the first established in the world, was unfortunately put on hold many years ago due to lack of funding and qualified staff to train the Guide Dog portion of the process. We are honored to once again be able to provide Service/Guide Dogs to people who may not qualify for a traditional Guide Dog due to having a physical disability that requires the use of a wheelchair.
The program’s funding is being provided through visionary Foundations that wish to enhance the mobility of people with both physical and visual disabilities. Over the next three years, PAWS plans to train and place 33 Service/Guide Dogs. These dogs will be fully trained in Service Dog tasks as well being able to guide their partner through their daily lives in their wheelchairs.
Our staff of three former Seeing Eye and Leader Dog Instructors, with over 43 combined years of Guide Dog work, will be the team providing the specialized training these dogs require. They will work with our network of Field Representatives across the country who provide instruction to client/dog teams in their homes and communities.
This past year we ran a pilot project, placing three Service/Guide Dogs in California, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The clients receiving these dogs have disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, Multiple Sclerosis and Seizure Disorder, along with significant loss of vision. The impact that these dogs have had in the lives of these individuals is remarkable. Clients have shared that they are now able to do things that were not possible before they received their Service/Guide Dog. The independence and mobility that was severely limited or nonexistent in their lives has been restored.
Each dog provided through this special program requires extensive training time and expense which will limit the number of dogs produced each year; therefore, specific eligibility requirements were established for potential clients. The most important prerequisites are that the client must have been partnered with at least one Guide Dog in the past, must have used a manual wheelchair for at least one year and have completed mobility orientation while using a manual wheelchair.
The success of this program will be analyzed and measured throughout the next three years. After we accomplish our initial goals for this program and additional funding becomes available, our hope is that one day we will be able to expand our services to meet the needs of those individuals who do not currently qualify for this program.
A Tail to Tell Toni and Ed Eames
In the last Tail column, we told you about the euthanasia of our elderly cat Cali. The house seemed empty with just three cats, so we decided to adopt Cali's successor. Toni and her Golden
Retriever guide dog Keebler, with the driving assistance of our friend Linda Haymond, went to the Feline Foundation to adopt a new cat. A nine-year-old calico named Bambi stole Toni's heart
with her extremely sweet personality. Keebler was supposed to be the cat friendliness tester, but she wasn't interested in the cats, just the tempting bowls of cat food! Bambi lived in the
shelter for most of her life and was probably overlooked because she was extremely overweight.
Bambi's adjustment at home has been phenomenal! She is mellow with the other cats and is not overly concerned by the dogs. Sleeping with us at night, she follows us around the house by
day seeking out a lap to lie on. The loud purr that emanates from her, let's us know she is pleased with her new forever home.
Bambi's vet check found her in good health except that she weighs almost 13 pounds when she should be 8! We have her on a strict reducing diet and she should be as sleek as Nifty, Bonzie and Kizzy by spring!
On the dog front, during an early morning walk, Ed's Golden guide Latrell and Keebler were confronted by a loose dog who kept running in circles and trying to play with the dogs. All the way home, he ran around us wanting to play. When we finally got home, Ed took our dogs inside, while Toni attached a leash to our unwanted marauder. Although not neutered, he was in good shape and was obviously a well cared for pet. Toni tied him to the banister alongside our front steps, and we checked him every half hour until the SPCA came to claim him. The tag on his collar was a license and the animal control worker said the family would be contacted. His best estimate was the dog was part pit bull and part Border Collie. The fear of encountering a dangerous dog is very real, and we were lucky our encounter was with a friendly critter.
During a walk several weeks after meeting the dog, we had another animal distraction. However, this time the critter was a tiny kitten! He came right up to Keebler and rubbed noses with her. Both dogs were extremely excited and distracted by this little guy. Since they live with four felines, one would think it wouldn't be such a novelty! The kitten followed us on our walk,
but when we got to a busy street, Toni picked him up and carried him around. Fearing to lose this wiggling baby, Toni grabbed his scruff and settled him down. We brought him back to the area where we first met him, but he was determined to stay with us! Therefore, when we got home, we fed and watered him and left him outside! But Boca, as we named him because of his big mouth and loud cries, had a different idea! Those heartrending cries were too much for Toni, so she brought him in and put him on our cat safe enclosed patio. Our friend Kathi Diaz came over after work and canvassed the area where we found him, but no luck. Nobody lost a gorgeous orange and white male two month old kitten. It was extremely tempting to keep this little guy, but with the recent acquisition of Bambi, a fifth cat would be difficult. So bravely and sadly, we took him to the California Feline Foundation the next day. With his good looks and kittenish personality, he was adopted soon after!
On the travel front, we've pretty much stayed on the ground! As much as we love flying, it was relaxing to take the four hour drive to San Francisco to attend the Guide Dogs For The Blind
(GDB) inaugural alumni reunion. Mary Harris, local Fresno puppy raising supervisor, was the chauffeur on this outing. Tango, her five month old Golden Retriever pup was awesome, meeting the demands of a noisy hotel, crowded elevators and more than 100 working guide dogs with a calm confidence well beyond his puppyhood status!
After the speeches and GDB staff greetings on Saturday morning, we loaded into school buses for the 30 minute trip to the San Rafael campus where we were served a box lunch. The rain that dampened the morning stopped in time for the picnic, but it was uncomfortably cold.
Since both of us were matched with our dogs and trained at home, we never participated in graduation ceremonies at the school. It was moving to sit in on this one, especially to witness the joy the puppy raisers expressed in knowing their hard work paid off and their young charges would now be working with blind individuals all over the U.S. and Canada.
Back in the hotel we prepared for the evening's banquet. Little did we know how special this event would be. The GDB Alumni Association honored us with a lifetime achievement award for the tireless work we do to enhance the lives of guide dog partners through the work we do with IAADP. We received a gorgeous braille and print plaque and lots of applause!
Sunday morning we attended several seminars, spoke to the group about the benefits of joining IAADP, then set up shop to sell our Partners In Independence book.
Mary generously offered to spend the extra day in San Francisco so we could see Toni's surgeon on Monday morning. The report was fabulous, the spinal fusion has healed and Toni has no movement restrictions. There is still some residual discomfort, but that is likely to resolve over the next few months.
Two days after returning home, Ed participated in an emergency evacuation simulation exercise conducted by the American Red Cross and the Fresno city disaster relief coordinator. As chair of the Fresno ADA Advisory Council, Ed was asked to involve members of the disability community in this exercise. A dozen members of the Council joined Ed and Len Kessler and hearing dog Vana in their simulated role as newly arrived victims of a
disaster. They helped educate the volunteers and staff about disability etiquette and the disaster-related needs of disabled people, particularly those teamed with guide, hearing and service dogs. This issue was brought into the foreground when one assistance dog partner asked a Red Cross volunteer where she could relieve her dog. The volunteer said she had no idea,
despite the availability of large stretches of grass 20 feet outside the door!
The next morning our wonderful friend and perennial IAADP conference volunteer Debbie Prieto drove us to Foster City, near San Francisco, for the Cat Writers Association conference. Last year Toni was using a wheelchair during this event, but Keebler remembered the hotel and did a fabulous job locating the elevators and finding the outside exit to the relief area. Our
Boise, Idaho-based friend Dana and her guide dog Vergie, Debbie and the two of us with Keebler and Latrell shared a mini suite and it was fun spending time together.
In addition to seminars on all aspects of writing as a career and two sumptuous evening banquets, we spent a few hours at the Cat Fanciers' Association cat show and got to pet a Siberian, Celkirk Rex and Scottish Fold. Toni had just completed reading a fabulous book about Norton, the much traveled and loved Scottish Fold, and was delighted to meet a member of the breed.
Sunday morning Nov. 19 we said goodbye to Dana and drove home to Fresno. Tired from two weeks of excitement and festivities, we went to bed early. Ed awoke a little after 3 and asked Toni to call 911. He was experiencing shortness of breath and we threw on clothes and welcomed the Ambulance crew which arrived in less than five minutes. Ed's oxygen level was extremely low at 82 and he was taken by Ambulance to St. Agnes hospital where the initial
diagnosis was pneumonia. After being examined and treated, Ed spent fifteen hours in the emergency room until a bed was found for him in the heart pavilion. Toni did not accompany him to the hospital because Kizzy was slated to have his teeth cleaned at the vet's to resolve some health issues.
As soon as Kizzy returned home, Toni went to the hospital. When she left Ed that evening, he seemed comfortable, but had a serious breathing episode in the middle of the night requiring
the Rapid Response Team's medical intervention. Tuesday Ed seemed a lot better and Wednesday, he went without oxygen and took walks with Latrell along the hospital corridors. The nursing care was exemplary, but we received a huge scare when the diagnosis was expanded to include congestive heart failure and the cardiologist talked about the need for heart surgery in the near future. Latrell did not stay at the hospital with Ed, but came to visit every day with Keebler and Toni.
Thanksgiving day was planned long in advance and Toni was now the official turkey roaster. She was overjoyed when Ed phoned to say he was doing so well, he was being discharged from the hospital in time to join us! Linda rushed to get him, while Toni tended
to dinner preparations. It was a wonderful gift when Ed joined Linda, Bobbie, Beth and Toni for a fabulous meal. He was even home in time to carve the turkey!
After his hospital stay, Ed resumed his many advocacy efforts. We were delighted that 77.5% of voters in November approved a half cent sales tax that will be used to finance public
transportation including improved paratransit services for the disabled community and free bus service for seniors. .
On another front, Ed participated in a meeting with city officials to reaffirm the position that diagonal curb cuts/ramps placed where two sidewalks intersect is against federal and state
regulations and threatens the safety of both wheelchair users and blind pedestrians. Coming down a diagonal ramp into traffic is not conducive to the health and well being of disabled
At this writing, Ed is not out of the woods, but is certainly enjoying the trees, the birds and whatever the woods and local dog park have to offer.
Toni and Ed Eames can be contacted at 3376 North Wishon, Fresno,
CA 93704-4832; Tel. 559 - 224-0544; e-mail email@example.com.
These Student Requests Are a Different Animal The Chronicle: 10/13/2006
From the issue dated October 13, 2006
Colleges accustomed to guide dogs now grapple with demands to allow ferrets and snakes that provide psychiatric support.
By KELLY FIELD
Sarah B. Sevick considers her pet ferret, Lilly, to be a service animal, no less legitimate than a guide dog. True, the support Lilly provides is emotional, rather than physical, but that does not change her status under the law, Ms. Sevick reasons.
So Ms. Sevick, who suffers from anxiety and depression, was surprised when administrators at Our Lady of the Lake University, in Texas, told her she could not bring Lilly to the campus because the ferret did not qualify as a service animal. Convinced the college was wrong, she filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division last August, asking that the
administrators' decision be overturned.
"They didn't understand," says Ms. Sevick. "I couldn't just have a panic attack and say, See, she is helping me."
College officials declined to comment on the case, citing respect for Ms. Sevick's privacy, but a spokeswoman said the college was "following the law" in how it describes a service animal. The Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, defines a service animal as "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with
"If we have an animal that has been prescribed as part of a treatment plan and trained in accordance with the law, then we will make every accommodation we can," says Susan A. Schleicher, chief communications officer for the university.
In letters to Ms. Sevick's mother obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, college officials expressed concern that the ferret would be "distracting and disruptive" in the classroom, and might bite or scratch students or faculty members. They said residence-life staff members had reported a "strong and unpleasant odor" emanating from Ms. Sevick's room during orientation weekend, and had found ferret feces on the floor and in the sink when Ms. Sevick
and Lilly left.
In a reply, Ms. Sevick's mother, D. Kay Sevick countered that the ferret would be no more distracting than a service dog, and pointed out that the ADA prohibits the denial of service animals on the basis of hypothetical risk. She said she had purchased a dietary supplement to reduce the ferret's odor, and suggested that the "feces" were probably food pellets.
The battle between the Sevicks and Our Lady of the Lake University is not unusual. Across the country, a growing number of students are seeking permission to bring "psychiatric service" animals into college classrooms and dormitories. The students say the animals, which range from cats and dogs to snakes, rats, and even tarantulas, help them cope with the stress of college
life. But the law is unclear on whether colleges must accommodate such animals, and many colleges have grappled with how to distinguish a student with a true need from one who simply does not want to be separated from Fluffy or Spot.
For many colleges, though, the biggest fear is that if they allow oneferret, it will only be a matter of time before their campuses become petting zoos.
“The single biggest concern on the part of institutions would be setting a precedent," says Jane E. Jarrow, president of Disability Access Information and Support, an organization that helps colleges meet disability standards. "They worry that if they say yes to this one, they won't be able to say no to the next one."
Unusual Requests Most colleges say they know how to handle requests for traditional service animals, such as guide dogs for the blind.
But the idea of service animals for the mentally ill is so new that even disability advocates have not yet settled on what to call them. Some advocates label them "companion animals" or "comfort animals," others refer to them as "emotional-support animals."
Joan G. Esnayra, a geneticist who has bipolar disorder, prefers to call them "psychiatric service" animals, a term she coined to distinguish the benefits they provide from "the kind of emotional support everybody gets from their pets." She chose the word psychiatric over psychologic, she says, to emphasize the severity of the handlers' psychiatric conditions.
Ms. Esnayra, founder and president of the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, says psychiatric-service animals may be trained to perform tasks for their handlers, such as alerting them to an incipient psychiatric episode. She says her first service dog, Wasabi, a Rhodesian ridgeback who died a year and a half ago, would repeatedly nudge her with his nose when she had been staring at the computer for hours — a sign she was entering a manic phase.
Ms. Esnayra says psychiatric-service animals can also "do work" for their handlers, as the ADA stipulates, and which she interprets broadly as "performing a function." For example, a dog might enable a person with agoraphobia — a fear of being in public places or crowds — to leave her home without panicking, or it might provide a "reality check" for a person with schizophrenia; if his dog is sleeping peacefully, then the handler knows that the voices he is
hearing are in his head, not in the room.
"It's a passive function," Ms. Esnayra acknowledges, "but when you're the schizophrenic person sorting things out, it's a valuable form of assistance."
But she says that animals need not perform tasks to qualify under the ADA, arguing that the interactions between a handler and animal can be "intrinsically therapeutic."
"A lot of the medicine of a psychiatric-service dog is predicated by a bond, and a bond is not a physical task," she says.
That position has put her in conflict with a coalition of traditional service-dog users, which has called task training "the litmus test of legitimacy."
The Coalition of Assistance Dog Organizations says the legal definition of "service animal" has been misunderstood or deliberately exploited by pet owners and protection-dog trainers, and the group has urged the Department of Justice to revise its ADA regulations to explicitly exclude animals that provide only "comfort, protection, or personal defense." The proposed definition
would also replace the phrase "do work or perform tasks" with "perform physical tasks."
Sheila Styron, a spokeswoman for the coalition and president of Guide Dog Users Inc., says her group is trying to fortify the law against abuses that threaten to undermine public tolerance of service animals. Ms. Styron, who is blind and works with a guide dog, says she was recently questioned at an airport after another passenger attempted to pass off a bowl of goldfish as service animals.
"People with disabilities have worked long and hard to gain their public-access rights, and they get upset when they feel that people are cheapening the progress that they have made," she says.
But Ms. Esnayra believes much of the resistance from traditional service-dog users stems from stereotypes about owner-trained dogs. While there are several training schools for guide dogs, there are no schools for psychiatric-service dogs, so most handlers train their own dogs.
"There is a prevalent stigma that owner-trained dogs will inevitably be poorly behaved" and will "diminish the good image of service dogs in the eyes of the public," she says.
She says she has tried to combat this "image problem" by establishing voluntary standards for psychiatric service dogs.
Courts Create Confusion With only one exception, the courts have backed Ms. Styron's interpretation of the law, ruling that the Americans With Disability Act and the Fair Housing Act — which prohibits discrimination in housing — apply to animals that perform tasks, not to those that provide comfort and companionship only.
But administrative judges at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have said that an animal does not have to perform tasks to receive protection under the Fair Housing Act. In a landmark case, decided in 1994, the judge ordered an apartment complex to waive its no-pets rule for a woman with depression.
"In effect, the dog gives ... the same freedom that a wheelchair provides a physically disabled person," the judge wrote.
Those conflicting rulings have created confusion for colleges, which are subject to the Americans With Disability Act campuswide and the Fair Housing Act in their dormitories. Certain colleges, like Ohio State University, permit psychiatric service animals in dormitories in some cases, but not in other facilities.
"I go with the highest standard of access," says L. Scott Lissner, the ADA coordinator at the Ohio State system and an authority on service-animal case law.
J. Aaron McCullough, a legal expert with the Disability Law Resource Project, which provides training and technical assistance on complying with the ADA, counsels colleges to rely on the law's definition of service animal, which "thoroughly precludes coverage" for animals that provide comfort only.
"A companion animal is just a euphemism for a pet," he says.
But Ms. Jarrow, the disability consultant, says she reminds colleges that the ADA "sets a floor, not a ceiling." Just because colleges are not required to accommodate psychiatric-support animals, she says, does not mean they are prohibited from doing so.
"The fear of opening the floodgates should not keep you from making an accommodation under reasonable circumstances," she said, urging administrators toconsider requests case by case.
At the same time, she cautions colleges not to adopt an "anything goes" policy toward psychiatric-support animals, saying she once received a call about an early-childhood-education major who wanted to bring her dog — a pit bull-Rottweiler mix — into a campus day-care center.
"Clearly, some animals may not be appropriate to a university setting," she says.
Ms. Jarrow says some colleges have been too quick to accommodate even unreasonable requests, fearing lawsuits.
"The institutional administration is often too skittish about possible legal action to think about what's logical, appropriate, or right," she said.
Michael R. Masinter, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, says colleges should approach requests with skepticism, but not a with a completely closed mind.
"No one is going to go through the trouble of losing their eyesight to keep a pet, but they might go through the trouble of getting a therapist's note," he says.
Mr. Masinter suggests that colleges consider whether the animal was prescribed by a psychologist, and whether it "really does alleviate the effects of the impairment," as required by the ADA.
Experts urge universities to develop policies that clearly differentiate between service animals and emotional-support animals. To assist colleges, Ms. Jarrow has created a sample policy that borrows heavily from that of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, which she calls "the granddaddy of them all."
The sample policy defines a service animal; outlines theresponsibilities of the disabled individual, as well as those of faculty and staff members and students; spells out which areas are off limits to service animals (research laboratories, mechanical rooms, and custodial closets, among them); and describes when a service animal may be forced to leave a campus facility.
Brian T. Rose, associate vice president for student affairs at Rutgers University at New Brunswick, says his institution decided to come up with a policy after it received five requests to accommodate a psychiatric-service animal in a single year — three cats, one dog, and a snake.
"Obviously, we permit service animals," he said. "But this was — pardon the pun — a different animal."
Ultimately, the college decided to allow the animals in its garden-style apartments, but not in dorms with a common elevator, where they might bother students with allergies and phobias.
"You're balancing Disability A against Disability B, trying to keep everyone comfortable in the residence halls," he said.
Research Shows Benefits Research into the benefits of psychiatric-service animals is still in its infancy. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of animal-assisted therapy for the elderly, the infirm, and the mentally ill. Other studies have shown that pets lower blood pressure in hypertensive stockbrokers, help children recover from traumatic experiences like sexual abuse, alleviate
loneliness in single women, and foster empathy among prison inmates.
"Pets calm people down, give them a feeling of self-confidence, and increase their ability to deal with the world more effectively," says Alan Entin, a psychologist in Richmond, Va., and an expert on pets.
But there have been no controlled studies on the benefits of trained psychiatric-service animals for specific psychiatric populations, and much of the evidence of their effectiveness remains anecdotal.
Ms. Esnayra, who recently left a job as a program officer at the National Academies of Science, hopes to change that. She has applied for a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health for a study of whether psychiatric-service dogs can lower anxiety levels in patients with anxiety disorders.
Despite the dearth of research, the idea that animals can help mitigate mental illness appears to be gaining acceptance in the mental-health professions.
Carole E. Fudin, a clinical social worker in New York City, says she has recommended psychiatric-service animals for several of her clients. In some cases, she says, the animals have "worked as powerfully as medication," with fewer side effects.
"I think psychotherapy has grown up a bit when it comes to how significant these animals are for people," she says, adding that there was some skepticism when the idea was introduced in the early 1980s. But she stresses that psychiatric-support animals are no substitute for psychotherapy and medication, adding that "if dependency on an animal alone is the only way a person is getting through the day, then they're going to be in crisis when the animal dies."
In Ms. Sevick's case, her ferret's therapeutic properties came as a surprise. She received Lilly as a pet, and only later discovered that stroking the ferret helped distract and calm her during a panic attack. With the help of her mother, she then trained the ferret to come on command and sit quietly in her lap for long periods of time. Eventually, Lilly learned to sense the
onset of a panic attack, and would come to Ms. Sevick automatically, she says.
When Our Lady of the Lake University declined her request to bring Lilly to campus, she decided to enroll anyway, certain that the college would reconsider. But she struggled academically and socially, and suffered frequent panic attacks.
"I had never been on my own, and I was in a strange place," she recalls, her voice cracking. "I was under a lot of stress, and I did not have any support at all."
By the time she heard back from the Office for Civil Rights, in December of last year, she had flunked out. The response was a one-page letter, saying that staff had reviewed her case and "decided not to take any action."
HOW A DOG CAN HELP [ Part of the Article by Kelly Field ]
Following are some of the tasks that a psychiatric-service dog could be trained to perform. Some of these could be accomplished by animals other than dogs.
DISORDERSYMPTOMTASK Major Depression apathy tactile stimulation*
hypersomnia (excessive sleep) wake handler
feelings of isolation tactile stimulation*
memory loss remind to take medication
Bipolar disorder (manic phase) aggressive driving alert to aggressive driving
disorganization assist with daily tasks, such as laundry
Panic attacks fear lead handler to safe place
dizziness brace or lean against handler
chills lie across handler
Schizophrenia hallucinations provide reality check
forgotten personal identity carry handler's documents
confusion/disorientation take handler home
feeling overwhelmed provide buffer in crowds
* This could include licking the handler's face, nuzzling, laying head in handler's lap or on handler's knee.
SOURCES: Psychiatric Service Dog Society; Chronicle reporting
Editor’s Note for Clarification: IAADP does not endorse the task definition given in this article by the founder of the Psychiatric Service Dog Society. We belong to the Coalition of Assistance Dog Organizations, which does support access for someone who is substantially impaired in performing one or more major life activities by a mental illness if they have a well behaved, task trained assistance dog. To be considered an assistance dog, the dog must be schooled to perform specific [physical] tasks on command or cue that will empower an individual to cope better with the symptoms or difficulties imposed by their disabling condition. Many people including assistance dog handlers receive emotional support from a dog, but that alone is not enough, legally speaking, to transform a pet into a service animal with regard to public access under the current interpretation of the ADA by the U.S. Department of Justice or under the laws of other countries such as Australia, the U.K. and Canada.
Taiwan Launches a Guide Dog School Taiwan Headlines, Taiwan
Monday, October 23, 2006
Taiwan begins training seeing eye dogs on its own
While there are 50,000 visually impaired people on Taiwan, the island is home to only 18 seeing eye dogs. This indicates a serious shortage of seeing eye dogs in Taiwan. The Huikuang Guide Dog Foundation, located in Taichung, has been working on training a group of people to train seeing eye dogs. The first group of locally trained seeing eye dogs graduated from training this year, indicating that efforts of the past 10 years to enable locals to train such dogs are starting to pay off.
Ko Ming-chi, the chairman of the Huikuang Guide Dog Foundation and the first person in Taiwan to employ a seeing eye dog, said that Taiwan introduced seeing eye dogs about 10 years ago. It has taken quite a while, however, to educate society about the use of such canines and achieve acceptance. Ko said that many people have certain set impressions about dogs. He said that one of the biggest problems people with seeing eye dogs face is that the animals are not allowed into restaurants or on public transportation. Ko lamented that even though laws have been amended to allow such, just recently someone trying to board a train at the Miaoli train station was prevented entry on the train due to having a seeing eye dog. He said the reason is that seeing eye dogs, while allowed to be on board non-express local trains, are not allowed to be on the Tsu-Chiang Class Express Train. Ko shook his head, saying that it is unbelievable how
the rules can be structured like this.
In addition to having to change society's perception of such animals, at the most basic level, Taiwan is simply short of seeing eye dogs. According to standards of the International Guide Dog Federation, there should be a ratio of one to one hundred in the number of seeing eye dogs to visually impaired people. Based on the number of legally blind people on Taiwan, the island should have at least 500 seeing eye dogs. At present, however, this number stands at only 18. The main reason for this is that Taiwan has traditionally relied on importing seeing eye dogs from other countries.
Ko said that in localizing the training of seeing eye dogs, the first thing that needs to be accomplished is to train a group of people to train the animals. Taiwan, however, to this point has lacked a significant number of trainers, meaning that the process to train the dogs has also
been painstakingly slow. Despite all of these problems, in April of this year a Labrador gave birth to eight pups, which were sent to foster families where they could get accustomed to interacting with humans. At an early age, the dogs then began to undergo training. It is expected that in
the coming three years, this will provide Taiwan with another eight seeing eye dogs. After 2010, the number of seeing eye dogs on Taiwan is expected to increase by 16 dogs annually.
Ko and a guide dog trainer, Chen Ya-fang, both said that training dogs locally will significantly reduce the costs of preparing a dog to go into service. Importing a seeing eye dog from overseas costs between NT$500,000 and NT$1 million. However, the costs associated with training a dog locally will be much less at between NT$250,000 and NT$350,000. In addition, training dogs on Taiwan from the time they are young will enable them to be more accustomed to the local environment, which will reduce the time needed for an imported guide dog to adapt to the setting here.
Another problem facing users of guide dogs on Taiwan is that quite commonly the English comprehension ability of the dogs is better than that of the master. Imported dogs have been trained in English and respond to English commands, which means there is a language barrier once the dogs get to Taiwan. In the future, locally trained dogs can be trained in either Mandarin or Taiwanese, enabling the dog to respond to commands in local languages.
While progress is being made in the localization of training of seeing eye dogs, Ko admitted, however, that the foundation is desperately in need of donations from the public. He said that the costs of training a dog are significant and he hopes that society is able to provide assistance in helping the organization. The phone number of the Huikuang Guide Dog Foundation is (02) 2998-5588. The Web site of the organization is: