Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tennessee: Woman goes to the media to complain about her dog. Only problem? I don't see that it qualifies as a Title I or II service dog as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

TENNESSEE -- A Seymour woman says she and her husband were told to leave a Maryville business because of their service dog. They’ve now filed a complaint under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Jody Harrison-Grabber says she has taken her service dog Daisy with her everywhere.

“She goes with Jody to the cancer center; we have gone to doctor’s offices,” said Jody Harrison-Grabber’s husband Jim. We have gone to hospitals.”

Jody Harrison-Grabber lives with a disability that causes her movement to be unstable. Her two-year-old service dog Daisy allows her to be able to walk. She went with her husband to the Shanks Oral Surgery in Maryville. The couple says they encountered a problem they had never had.

“The receptionist stood up out of her chair, looked over the counter and said ‘oh no you can’t have that dog in here, you’ve got to get her out of here,’” said Jim Grabber. “Jody said ‘she’s a service dog, she’s got her vest on, she’s under control.”

Jim Grabber says the receptionist still made them leave.

According to the American’s with Disabilities Act website, service dogs are allowed in any area the general public is allowed to go.

“Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.”

The Grabbers say they left the building but were denied access to the only exit without stairs.

“She was able to lean on a post and hang on to Daisy and I had to get down one step and she had to basically fall over on me to get her off the steps,” said Jim Grabber.

WATE 6 On Your Side contacted Shanks Oral Surgery multiple times by phone and in person to try to get their side of the story, but was they did not want to talk at this time. A representative on the ADA hotline says they cannot determine whether Shanks Oral Surgery had the right to make the dog leave without a formal complaint.


Jody Harrison-Grabber says she has already filed the complaint and should hear back in three months.

I watched the video clip and I see this dog doing nothing except walking. She is barely holding the leash. I don't see this dog providing any sort of trained work as defined by the ADA.

If she were really needing the dog to walk, I would think that it would have a framed harness on with a solid, rigid handle for support - almost like a walker. She would be using her body weight, leaning onto this rigid harness framed handle and the dog would be using its strength to hold her up. 

Every step she took, the dog would be actively working to hold her up. This dog is not doing anything but walking next to her.

A rigid framed harness, like a walker, is meant to support a
person's body weight when they cannot walk on their own.

Service Animal Defined by Title II and Title III of the ADA

A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, or pressing an elevator button.

Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals either. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support. A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.

Examples of animals that fit the ADA’s definition of “service animal” because they have been specifically trained to perform a task for the person with a disability:

· Guide Dog or Seeing Eye Dog is a carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool for persons who have severe visual impairments or are blind.

· Hearing or Signal Dog is a dog that has been trained to alert a person who has a significant hearing loss or is deaf when a sound occurs, such as a knock on the door.

· Psychiatric Service Dog is a dog that has been trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and lessen their effects. Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take medicine, providing safety checks or room searches, or turning on lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, interrupting self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity disorders, and keeping disoriented individuals from danger.

· SSigDOG (sensory signal dogs or social signal dog) is a dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the handler to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g., hand flapping).

· Seizure Response Dog is a dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. How the dog serves the person depends on the person’s needs. The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure or the dog may go for help. A few dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance to sit down or move to a safe place.

Under Title II and III of the ADA, service animals are limited to dogs. However, entities must make reasonable modifications in policies to allow individuals with disabilities to use miniature horses if they have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.

Other Support or Therapy Animals

While Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA. These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.

Even though some states have laws defining therapy animals, these animals are not limited to working with people with disabilities and therefore are not covered by federal laws protecting the use of service animals.  

Therapy animals provide people with therapeutic contact, usually in a clinical setting, to improve their physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning.

Just because you enjoy your pet's
companionship doesn't mean it's a "therapy" pet.
Couple loses appeal, told to get rid of
three of their four "emotional support" pigs
"I Need Kangaroos to Cope" - city disagrees
Florida: Woman infuriated that restaurant didn't
want her "emotional support" pit bull there
Girl and her family get fake service animal badge
for lizard and demand to take it wherever they go. 

(WATE - March 10, 2017)