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School in New York Sued Over Service Dog

As we touched upon a couple weeks back in one of our articles, therapy/service dogs are vital to kids and adults who need them.

Service dogs can help with numerous impairments: visual difficulties, seizures, PTSD, mental illness, diabetes, hearing impairments, ambulatory issues and autism.  These dogs are often needed at all times in order to fully protect their owner.   This is why these dogs are the exceptions to rules that typically say "No dogs allowed."  Service dogs are required to be allowed in any institution, by medical order.

However, one school system was recently sued because of their fightback on this law.  In Rochester, New York, there is a little girl named Devyn Pereira, who needs her furry friend to be by her side at all times. Devyn needs her dog for many reasons: she has autism, Angelman syndrome and epileptic seizures.  It makes it hard for Devyn to function when she doesn't have her dog, Hannah, with her.  Hannah warns her and adults around of Devyn's impending seizures. 

But beginning in kindergarten at Terry Taylor Elementary, the school district fought back on Devyn having her dog with her.  Because she was young, they said they would not allow Hannah at school unless she had a professional handler.  While this doesn't seem like an unreasonable request, it is much more severe than it sounds.

The Pereira family had to hire a handler just so their daughter could take her dog with her to school, and this ended up costing them more than $25,000 over the course of three years.  It is a huge expense to hire a handler, and the request that the school district made was actually not reasonable.

The American with Disabilities Act in 1990 brought into effect the laws requiring businesses and schools to allow service animals, no matter the circumstances. Gates Chili saying "no" to Devyn having Hannah in the classroom is a breach of this act.  

So finally, after a three-year long battle between the Pereiras and the Gates Chili School District, the school was found guilty and now must not only reimburse the family for their expenses paid on the handler the past few years, but must allow Devyn and Hannah to be together, no matter what.  

It's important to remember that all service dogs are service dogs for a reason.  They are necessary for the health and well-being of their owners, and should never be said 'no' to!

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Jenna Gomes

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Jenna Gomes