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Service Animals

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Getting a service dog caused Nicolas Steenhout a lot of grief from other disabled people, he writes in I'm getting a service dog. So what? in the March, 2002 issue of Ragged Edge magazine. His story introduces the topic of service animals.

The Americans with Disabilities Act gave people with disabilities the right to be assisted by service animals in places of public accommodation and in commercial establishments.

But in his article Another Civil Right Now Limited, Frederick A. Shotz wrote in Feb. 2004, that "since that right became law, though, there has been opposition to the broad service animal language of the ADA."

In his Feb., 2005 article, The Friendly Skies, Amended, poet and essayist Stephen Kuusisto looked at the Dept. of Transportation's proposed rule change that activists worry will mean that travelers with assistance dog could be charged for an extra seat, asked to take a later flight or have the assistance dog shipped in cargo.

Will the year and a half-long campaign by assistance-dog users against this rule change bear fruit when final rules are published by DOT in the fall of 2006? Ed Eames and Joan Froling of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners take a look at the issues in their story IAADP and DOT: David and Goliath! published in June, 2006.

Discrimination against people who use service animals doesn't just come from federal rules.

In January, 2006 Kuusisto wrote in his essay The New Vulgarity about a blind woman who was harassed by her condominium neighbors "who complained because the blind woman in question was, well, blind, and not only that, old and for crying out loud she wasn't always accurate when cleaning up after her guide dog out there on the lawn. Her young and fully sighted neighbors, or some of them, excuse me, I'll just say it-the neighbors who drive imported automobiles were inconvenienced by an occasional turd out there on the grass."

And be sure to check out our earlier news archives on this or related topics -- or use our search feature to find more articles.