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Monday, October 21, 2013

Service animal teams should have photo ID to prove legitimacy

People who pretend their dog is a service dog deserve to be bitten in the butt.
They are as despicable as able-bodied people who park in places reserved for those with disabilities.
On these two issues, Mr. Norton, my service animal who was trained to never bark or bite, and I agree. He keeps saying with his big brown eyes: “Let me at ‘em Jer, let me at ‘em.”
Mr. Norton, my beautiful brown-eyed Golden Retriever-Labrador mix, became my constant companion and helpmate more than seven years ago when my wife, JoAnn, and I picked him up at Paws with a Cause in Wayland near Grand Rapids.
It would have cost $18,000 to buy Mr. Norton but he was given to me by the nonprofit. Mr. Norton (I call him Mr. out of respect) underwent two years of training before we worked together for 10 months with trainers to become a certified team so he could pull me as I sit in my wheelchair.
He can also pick up anything I drop from the size of a credit card to a TV remote. He can bring me the phone, take off my shoes, pants, and cover my feet up with blankets in bed. He opens doors and keeps an eye on me whether he is in his “service dog” uniform or not. One time, in fact, he scared off a guy who was going to rob me in a parking lot by just staring the fellow down.
We’ve only been questioned once about being together in public.
To prove Mr. Norton and I are a certified service team, I pulled out my photo identification given to me by the organization that trained us. It shows a picture of Mr. Norton sitting next to me in my wheelchair. It says “Norton Trained for Jerry Wolffe.” On the back of the license, it says: “United States Federal Law” and quotes the ADA saying Mr. Norton and I have “access to all public places and commercial centers under Federal Law.” If we are denied admittance to any public place, I can call the Justice Department at (800) 514-0301 and file a complaint or sue the entity that denied us service for discrimination in federal court.
To stop bogus service teams, my opinion is any dog/human service team should have photo ID just like Mr. Norton and I have had since we got my pal from Mike Sapp Sr., the executive director of Paws. Dogs that are not as well trained as Mr. Norton hurt my rights if that animal urinates or causes a commotion in a place of public accommodation.
And having a well-trained dog such as Mr. Norton at my side makes me safer and more capaable, thanks to his muscles. And when I die I expect to see Mr. Norton at St. Peter’s gate wagging his tail as I walk into Heaven to be with my silent four-legged angel.

Jerry Wolffe is the Advocate-at-Large/Writer-in-Residence at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.

 

13 comments:

  1. The information this gentleman gives is NOT true. The ADA prohibits any business from asking for any kind of ID or paperwork for a Service Dog. The business is legally allowed to ask 2 questions to verify that the dog is a service dog. (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. For more information on ADA Laws concerning Service Dogs go to http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

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  2. There are SO many inaccuracies in this article that it's despicable and shameful you've posted it. You've done a disservice to the SD community and tarnished your own image.

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  3. Definitely not the voice for all of those with disabilities and does not speak for me. I will not be branded with a scarlet letter or a yellow star like the Jews were during the Holocaust. In the United States, no person is required to show ID to enter a place of public accommodation nor carry ID unless driving a car. Why should people with disabilities be singled out for discrimination?

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  4. The information the first Anonymous has given is absolutely correct. The information this blogger is spouting has been spoonfed by Paws With a Cause, the program that gave him his service dog. Federal law has much different things to say! Please do some research and take down your article in Macomb Daily. You are not helping other service dog teams. http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

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  5. Hey idiot stop spreading incorrect bs. We dont need IDs for our our partners!

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    1. Hey now, no name calling! This man has been told this information by the program that gave him his SD. We should truly get on their case for giving out false information to their teams. But their teams should also do their own research and take the time to actually learn the correct laws.

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  6. I can't even begin to fathom all of the horrible misinformation in this article. In reality, probably 80% of the people that HAVE photo IDs are actually "fake" service dog teams. That is because you can BUY an ID online for $30 that says your dog is a "certified service dog". Which by the way- there is NO SUCH THING as a "certified" service dog, because there are NO FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES OR NATIONAL REGISTRIES. All of the so called "registries" are SCAMS. " If a team doesn’t have photo ID from a legitimate organization that has the skill and backing to train animals to help those of us with disabilities, they are not legitimate." This is such an insanely flabergastingly horrifying piece of misinformation that I want to bang my head on the desk. What about owner trained teams? Or teams that work with private trainers? Not all of us got our service dogs through programs- maybe the waiting list was too long, they don't cross train for multiple issues, the cost is too expensive, or many other reasons that people choose to owner train. By the way- I have met program trained dogs that are FAR less skilled and well behaved then my owner trained service dog....who does everything you said Mr. Norton does, plus alerts me to low blood pressure, seeks help if I fall, calls 911 if I pass out and he can't wake me, and reminds me to take medication. Federal law states that if the owner is legally defined as physically or mentally DISABLED and that the dog does WORK OR TASKS that ASSIST THE HANDLER WITH THEIR DISABILITY and is TRAINED TO BEHAVE PROPERLY IN PUBLIC it is legally protected as a service dog. End of discussion. No vests needed, no ID needed. Do some research before posting something like this! Good God! How can you call yourself a responsible SD handler and a "voice for the disabled" with crap like this?

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  7. I am extremely disappointed and appalled by this blog. When you originally posted this with your local newspaper, you were met with comments and emails similar to these and, privately, you stated in an email that you would remove the article due to the false information that was in it. And now, here you are, spreading the same bad, false information in another place. You, sir, are a liar and certainly no "voice" for the disabled. Readers, take note of the comments. They provide you with the real factual legal information that this "journalist/blogger" has refused to acknowledge.

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    1. This article is not worded the same as the one originally posted in the Macomb Daily. He has changed it to state that it is his opinion that a service team carry an ID. While I'm still not happy with the article and the damage it can do, he is no longer stating that the law requires an ID.

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    2. But if we don't have a dog from a program, do we just get an ID card from a scam registry like the fakers? Mr. Wolffe talking about pulling out his ID to gain access is not the voice of this or many disabled people! The only ID I carry on me is my state issued ID. My service dog carries information on the laws and emergency information for me. If someone asks me for ID or my dog's paperwork, the only papers they will get handed are info printed out from the ADA's website.

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  8. While this article is different from the original article in the Macomb Daily and is not stating that the law requires an ID for service dogs but that it is your opinion that they should have one, this article is still very misleading and harmful to those with service dogs. Like someone mentioned above, anyone can buy an "official service dog registration and ID kit" online to pass their pet dogs off as a service dog so showing an ID is not PROOF that the dog is a well trained service dog. Instead of asking for ID, a business should ask the 2 questions allowed by the ADA (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Most people trying to pass off their pets as service dogs will not know how to properly answer those questions and can then be denied entrance to the business.

    You mention that if a business denies you admittance you can file a complaint with the DOJ. That is also true if a business refuses to admit you because you do not show any kind of ID. Once again, it is not required by law and the ADA specifically states that a business may not ask for it. "Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task." While you are stating that it is only your opinion that every legitimate team carry an ID, I strongly disagree. By showing businesses an ID when they ask for one, you are encouraging them to violate ADA Laws and leading them to believe that it is legal for them to do so. You are also causing problems for the next service dog team who visits that business and refuses to show an ID because it is their right not to show one. This article is not helping to educate anyone of the rights of a disabled person who uses a service dog.

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  9. I wish you wouldn't post inaccurate information like this. ID cards are not required for service dog teams and in fact it is a violation of federal law for businesses to ask to see such an ID. You should not be encouraging businesses to violate federal law. Posting inaccurate information like this makes things more difficult for legitimate service dog teams.

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  10. As a guide dog user, my wife will never beg the government for permission to do the same things that the non-disabled do everyday, and take for granted. She has the Constitutional right to travel unmolested without having to 'show your papers, please' to every jackass who thinks they have a right to demand it. Or maybe she should just sew a six pointed yellow star on the outside of all her clothing. Was that not tried in the not too distant past? How did that work out?

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