Advocates for service dogs won a round in Michigan recently. Groups representing Ehlena Fry, a 13-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, now have the right to argue the case in court, without the need for lengthy administrative work.
The Supreme Court ruling doesn’t finish the matter. Actually, it just opens the door to pursuing the court case. The school district fought the ruling, insisting that the problem could be solved less expensively with “administrative remedies.”
Wonder Makes Ehlena’s Life Easier
The dog in question is Wonder, a Goldendoodle service dog, He is trained to pick things up, open doors and do other everyday jobs that give the girl greater independence. Ehlena’s mobility problems and disability made it difficult to handle a wide range of routine tasks as she navigated the school day.
Since Ehlena was in kindergarten, the school system has resisted efforts to let the dog accompany her to class. They felt that school aides could assist Ehlena, and the dog was unnecessary.
Over time the school district eased up a bit. It allowed the dog to accompany her, but put a host of restrictions on what the dog could do and where it could go.
Eventually, Ehlena’s family decided to homeschool her. Finally, they enrolled her in a school district in the area that actually welcomed the dog.
What Was the Problem with a Service Dog?
Many people, hearing the story, could only shake their heads. Aren’t service dogs allowed everywhere, legally?
The answer is “most of the time.” In Ehlena’s and Wonder’s case, two disability laws collided. According to the school, the Disabilities Education Act gave them the right to keep the dog out because they had teacher’s aids to do the job the dog was doing.
But the family said the Americans with Disabilities Act gave Ehlena the right to have Wonder with her in school, whether aides were available or not. For that reason, they are suing the school for damages, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The judge ruled that the family can pursue their suit, but pointed out that the final decision of the court might go against the family.‘
There is good news. At 13, Ehlena can now attend classes without Wonder. Her mobility has improved and she is far more independent that she was in her younger years, when she relied heavily on the dog.
Register Your Service Dog
It’s important to get the credentials of your service dog in order, just in case questions arise. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is at USA Service Dog Registration. It only takes a few minutes to follow the three easy steps on the website. And it’s free!
USA Service Dog Registration also has an online store with a full line of service dog items. These include patches, vests and handles, collars and leashes, ID cards and tags and digital certificates.
The website has a Service Dog Information page that answers common questions, like:
The goal of USA Service Dog Registration is to get every service dog and emotional support dog registered quickly and easily. They understand how essential these animals are for independence and comfort. People with support animals need them to accomplish everyday tasks that others take for granted.
Stop by the USA Service Dog Registration website today to register your dog and find practical accessories that help when you take him out in public.
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