Saturday, January 5, 2013

Salvation Army access issue

Service Dog For Charlene

I visited the Salvation Army store (in my local area of Statesville, NC) with my Service Dog [ in training]. The manager of the store told me to leave the store. I was told that I could not have a dog in the store. I respectfully replied that my dog is not a pet, that she is a Service Dog - and in training. The woman then told me that she did not care for dogs and that I needed to leave. I told her that the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 gives my service dog and I the right to be in a store just like anyone else. She then told me that she was allergic to dogs and that I had to go. I was also accompanied by my daughter (who was very pregnant at the time - due to be induced in 6 days) as well as my two older grandchildren ages 11 & 9. We were next in line at the counter and I told the lady that I would be glad to leave as soon as my purchase was completed. She snatched my items up from my hand and started to ring them up. I mentioned that they had the dots on them for half price off (which is a regular Wednesday promotion on clothes) and was told that I was not a senior citizen and did not qualify for the half off. I was stunned, this was clearly a retaliation to me trying to educate the lady in a very nice way on the ADA law governing service animals. I was so upset, my daughter was outraged and the grandchildren were just bewildered. This is supposed to be an agency that helps people - Who would have thought that they would be the ones discriminating... I for one will NEVER set foot inside another Salvation Army Store again. I hope that the corporate office takes this to heart and actually teaches their employees about Service Animals and "How best to handle situations with people with disabilities" An apology would be nice.

You can follow the story on Charlene's facebook page.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Student and her service dog live in UFA apartments

Collegian Reporter
Junior Alexis Achey lives in the University Forest Apartments with her service dog, Winston, who helps her to manage her Type 1 Diabetes through his sense of smell, which detects when her blood sugar levels are out of range.
“He can smell the changes in body chem- istry as the glucose levels fluctuate,” Achey said. “So when levels are high, it smells really fruity or sweet, and when low, it smells like nail polish remover or acetone.”
Winston, a three-month-old black lab, has not yet learned the paw-to-leg motion, Achey said, which is the official notification that fully trained service animals use to notify their owners that their sugar levels are off balance.
“Right now, he basically does anything he can to get my attention,” she said, “be it whining, jumping or barking.” He also gets the hiccups when her levels are out of range, Achey said, although she is unsure why.
Before living with Winston, Achey had to monitor her sugar levels on her own, she said. Doctors diagnosed Achey’s Type 1 Diabetes when she was 7 years old.
Since then, she has learned to look out for symptoms of low blood sugar. “Nor- mally, you get blurry vision, shakiness, sweatiness, general disorientation,” she said. “You would normally just feel off,” she said.
When experiencing these symptoms, Achey would test her glucose levels to con- firm that they were lower than normal, and if they were, she would eat or drink something sugary. If levels remained low, Achey would have to rely on glucagon, she said, a drug that injects pure glucose into the body, usually in the thigh.
But within the last year and a half, she had become unsure when to take these pre- cautions because she had trouble recognizing the symptoms. “Since I’ve been diabetic for so long, my blood sugars have always been on the lower range,” she said, “so as time goes on, I’ve lost the ability to detect it.”
Failure to recognize these symptoms could result in a seizure, coma or even death, she said. Now, Winston can detect out of range levels about a half an hour earlier than the glucose monitors that Achey had used in the past could.
Because service dogs for diabetes have become popular within the past two to three years, Achey said that she had never heard of them until recently. Achey’s research professor, Carol Parish, who raises dogs for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, told her about the option.
Achey started researching, she said, and found Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers Inc., a company based in Orange, Va.
Achey contacted the company at the be- ginning of February, she said, and was put on the wait list until she was matched with Winston in August and received him in September. But before Achey could live with Winston, he had to go through a training program.
“So the company had him in ‘puppy boot camp’ since he was five weeks old until 12 weeks old,” she said, “and they just learn basic obedience and alert, but don’t necessarily learn the smell.” At five weeks, the dogs are evaluated to see whether they are curious about different smells. Finally, the dogs go through temperament testing, which helps to match them with their owners, she said.
The company bases these matches off of personality and lifestyle, Achey said, which is determined for the dog through training, and for the owner, through forms similar to roommate applications.
Once matched with Achey, Winston’s training did not end, she said. When Achey first got Winston, she worked with a company employee to train him eight hours a day, five days a week. An employee will continue to help every three months until Winston is two years old, she said.
Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers helps its clients to pay for the purchase of the dogs and their training, according to the company’s website. These costs add up to $20,000, Achey said. To raise this money, Achey has posted her fundraiser on Facebook, selling shot glasses and beer glasses that read, “In dog beers, I’ve only had one.”
Before she could bring Winston to campus, Achey had to contact the housing office because of university regulations prohibiting animals from living on campus. After applying for housing, she was assigned to a room in North Court, Achey said, until mid-summer when she was notified that a reserved handicapped apartment was available.
Achey is the first student to live with a service animal on the University of Richmond campus, she said. “There was a request several years ago from a potential first year student,” Joan Lachowski, director of undergraduate housing, said. “It would have been approved if he chose to come to the university.”
The university has a policy permitting students with disabilities to live with a service dog in on-campus housing, Lachowski said. But in the future, all specific requests for service animals would have to be approved based on university policy and guidelines provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act, she said.
Since Achey has been granted this permission, she said that her daily routine at school has changed. “I have to leave, on average, a half an hour earlier for class than I normally would have,” she said, “to let him go to the bathroom if he needs to and because so many people stop him along the way.”
Attention from multiple people can create a problem for Winston. “Winston is on duty 24/7, so work and play are a lot more integrative,” Achey said. “While he’s playing, he still has to pay attention to me. As long as I tell him to sit down, people can pet him, but it’s ideal to have only one person at a time.”
Winston stays with Achey in the classroom, as well. Some of Achey’s, physics and chemistry teachers voiced concern about having Winston in the wet labs, Achey said. To avoid any problems, Winston wears safety booties, and once he is older, he will wear goggles, or “doggles,” as Achey called them.
Although unsure whether she wants to have a service dog for the rest of her life, Achey said that Winston’s services had definitely been an improvement from the glucose monitors that she had relied on in the past.
Contact reporter Jamie Edelen at

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What's It Worth? Assistance dogs

What's It Worth? Assistance dogs

Riley is a yellow Labrador and Trooper a black Labrador who have finished basic training at Hawaii Canines for Independence and are ready to serve as assistance dogs.
Photo: David Croxford
Brian Kajiyama’s assistance dog, Zeus, is a Labrador retriever that has learned sign language to help Brian, who has cerebral palsy. Beside the usual skills of retrieving items, turning on lights and opening doors, Zeus can even take the jump drive out of Brian’s computer.
Zeus is a graduate of Hawaii Canines for Independence, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Makawao, Maui, that provides assistance dogs free to children and adults in Hawaii with physical disabilities. Guide dogs, hearing dogs and service dogs fall under the category of assistance dogs.
According to HCI executive director Maureen “Mo” Maurer, the national average to raise and train an assistance dog is about $25,000, but most accredited assistance-dog providers do not charge clients for the dogs. HCI’s costs are covered by donations and community sponsorships.
“There is substantial expense because we obtain the highest quality puppies available that have the best chance of passing all the rigorous health and temperament screenings. Vet bills, health and liability insurance, two years of training, supplies, two to three weeks of full-time Team Training Camp for clients, approximately 10 years of lifetime follow-up visits and support add to the cost,” says Maurer.
Puppies begin training at 4 weeks old and success rates range from 30 percent nationally to 70 percent at HCI.
“Sometimes a year into training, an issue arises and the dog becomes a pet instead of an assistance dog,” explains Maurer. “We don’t call them ‘dropouts,’ but ‘career changers.’ ”
Which breeds make the best assistance dogs? Labrador and golden retrievers, says Maurer.
Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

4-Year-Old Virginia Girl Matched With Service Dog to Carry Her Oxygen Tank

A young girl who needs an oxygen tank to survive met the service dog that will carry it from now on Friday.
Noelle Mikels, of Front Royal, Va., was born with a chronic lung disease. She was premature, arriving before her lungs could fully develop.
“She’s been on oxygen her entire life, and we’re thinking that she’ll be on it for quite some time if not forever,” said Stacie Mikels, Noelle’s mother.
Now the 4-year-old no longer has to lug the 10 pound tank around alone. That task goes to her new friend, Monty.
“Literally, today we are adding a new family member to our home,” said Stacie Mikels said. “That's what today is all about.”
Monty follows the paw prints of Mr. Gibbs. A Georgia girl with a similar lung condition and her service dog appeared on The Today Show, which inspired Stacie Mikels to find the same help for Noelle. The Mikels did some research, and with donations they collected $10,000 to get their own dog.
Monty came from North Star, a foundation that typically provides service dogs to autistic children. North Star took on the challenge and matched Noelle with Monty.
The golden retriever will carry the oxygen in a custom vest and go everywhere with Noelle.
“It'll be the line, the tanks and then they can even go down the slide together,” said Noelle’s father, Ross Mikels. “It'll be fun to see.”
But the Mikels hope the new dog won't be their daughter’s only new friend.
“A lot of time we find kids are apprehensive to come up to her because of the big tank and because she's always with an adult,” Stacie Mikels said, “and I really think that the dog will facilitate more kids coming over and talking to her and be a bridge between the two.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Texas New employee at DA’s Office has 4 legs, shed

New employee at DA’s Office has 4 legs, shed

Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:07 pm | Updated: 6:38 am, Wed Sep 19, 2012.
Employees with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office recently welcomed a new, four-legged staff member into their ranks and fellow workers have nothing but positive things to say about him.
Ranger, a 5-year-old yellow Labrador, has been at the office in Conroe for about two months, Victim Assistance Coordinator Pam Traylor said. In that time, Ranger’s had no trouble earning his co-workers’ respect.
“He’s definitely our most popular employee here,” Traylor said.
Ranger acts a service dog for victims of abuse and violent crimes, and helps soothe and relax them when they are speaking with officials or testifying in court, Traylor said.
“When you have children that have to testify about horrific or traumatizing crimes, it can obviously be very scary for them,” chief prosecutor Tyler Dunman said. “Having Ranger around shows us to be not so scary. They can pet the dog, look at him and talk to him, and it gives them something to focus on and direct their attention to.”
Traylor had been researching the use of dogs in courtrooms since about 2007, and attended a number of seminars where dogs were shown to have a positive impact when dealing with juvenile victims. She expressed interest with taking in a dog from the nonprofit organization Texas Hearing and Service Dogs, which takes in rescue dogs and trains them with a system of positive reinforcement.
Texas Hearing and Service Dogs rescued Ranger in 2008, and also trained him as a service dog for a year. Ranger later lived with a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis. However, when the woman became too sick to care for him, Texas Hearing and Service Dogs took Ranger back and contacted Traylor.
“They said they had a perfect dog for us,” Traylor said. “And they were absolutely right.”
The organization provided Ranger for the DA’s Office without any charge. Ranger is always quiet and obeys a wide variety of commands, and is able to sit, stay, shake hands and high five, and can pick things up off the floor if they’ve been dropped, can open drawers and even open doors.
“We found out he could open doors after one day when he simply let himself out of the office,” Traylor said.
Any concerns about a dog being a potential distraction vanished when Ranger arrived at the DA’s Office, Dunman said. It was originally planned to bring him in perhaps once or twice a week, but Ranger now comes to work with Traylor nearly every day, comforting both victims and employees.
“He has a remarkable way of sensing when you’re upset,” Dunman said. “He’ll just come over and calmly lay his head in your lap. Small things like that.”
Ranger has so far met with several victims of abuse and has also helped one juvenile testify in a county attorney’s case, Traylor said.
Last week, Texas Hearing and Service Dogs did an observation of Ranger to check on his progress, and the representatives were very pleased and impressed with his work, Traylor said.
“He has his own bed and his own toys right here in the office,” Traylor said. “He’s just been fantastic and everyone loves him.”
For all of the good Ranger brings to the office and those around him, Traylor said that he comes with only a single, small downside.
“He sheds horribly,” Traylor said with a laugh. “But I guess that’s OK with us.”
An informative video about Ranger made by the Texas Hearing and Service Dogs can be found on YouTube by entering “Ranger – DA dog” into the search box.

A 20-year-old with a service dog is suing Popeye's and Cobb County for discrimination

A 20-year-old with a service dog is suing Popeye's and Cobb County for discrimination.
Taylor Gipson, 20, never goes anywhere without his 3-year-old service dog named Bear.
"Just having your best friend by your side all the time, I don't think I could live without one," Gipson said.
Gipson said he has Type 1 diabetes and Bear is trained to alert him when there are changes to his blood sugar and before encountering a seizure.
"He can smell from my breath when my blood sugar is rising or dropping too quickly and he will alert me when that's happening," Gipson said.
Four months ago, Bear did just that. So Gipson walked in to a Popeye's restaurant on Windy Hill Road in Cobb County to order some food. That's when he said he encountered a rather unusual problem with management.
"It wasn't five minutes after I ordered my food that this manager was right up in my face telling me to get out of her restaurant," Gipson said.
Gipson said the manager told him to leave because his dog was not allowed in the restaurant.  Then she called police.
"The law states that you don't have to explain what your disability is or what the dog is specifically for, just that he is a service dog and I even presented her with a card documenting that he is a service dog and that still wasn't good enough for her," Gipson said.
According to Gipson and his attorney, it wasn't good enough for the police officer either.
"This young man had the American Disabilities information in his hand willing to show it to the officer who said ‘I don't need to be told what the law is, I know it.' He didn't," Gipson's attorney Lee Parks said.
Parks said the incident was exacerbated when Popeye's later said that they asked Gipson to leave the restaurant because he was involved in an altercation with another customer.
"They claimed there was video, there is no video. They claimed there was a witness, there is no witness. It was a bald-faced, malicious lie," Parks said.
Parks is now pursuing legal action against the owner of the Popeye's restaurant and Cobb County. CBS  Atlanta News contacted both for comment today, but the only one talking is Gipson.
"I just don't want to see this happen to somebody else and I want to see other people with service dogs and disabilities treated fairly in the future," Gipson said.
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