Judge should know the law

Published 6:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2016

In an article written Thursday Judge Larry Little, remarking on a case concerning a service animal, was quoted as saying he was “not sure this dog is even a certified service dog.” — I am not sure what this means.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are no requirements for licensing, certification or identification of service dogs.

The 2010 revised regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as “Dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” The ADA, in fact, prohibits mandatory certification of service dogs. It allows people in the service industry to ask all of two questions: 1) “Is the dog required because of a disability?” and 2) “What work has the dog been trained to do?”

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As luck would have it, I work in the service industry and met Beatrice, the dog Judge Little spoke of, this week. I asked her owner those two questions.

Though not legally required to, she let the dog demonstrate its capacity to monitor her blood sugar level; massage her sore muscles; fetch various objects including a phone, water bottle, and medicine bottle; and alert her owner to the fact that she was exhibiting cues of anxiety, such as toe tapping. In addition, the dog can give hugs on command. In short, this dog has been trained to perform a number of tasks for her owner, who is protected by the ADA.

So what can his comment mean? I won’t speculate, but I encourage him to clarify.

I should like to add: When I read his comments about this animal I might, had I not taken 10 minutes to research the matter, assumed there was such a thing as “service animal certification.” Then, when Beatrice’s owner came to my establishment, I might have asked for this nonexistent documentation. Upon being told there was no such thing I might have refused her service.

This is illegal and it is discrimination. I would hate for such a fiction to influence someone’s judgment concerning any decision that involves a service animal.

For more information on service dogs, visit https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.

Andy Dickerson