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Old 08-16-2006, 09:03 AM   #1
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Trained Guide Dog Banned From Second Grader's School

I'm posting the whole article because the link will expire tomorrow

So what do you think-is the school being unfair and/or unreasonable? Are they discriminating against this girl? Are her parents asking too much?



By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff | August 16, 2006

Hailey Manduca has only one close friend: a golden retriever-Labrador mix named Indy.

The Scituate second-grader, who suffers from a rare disorder that causes her bones to break easily, has poor balance, cannot roughhouse with other children, and needs help climbing stairs. ``Nobody wants to play with her, because she can't do what other kids do," Hailey's mother, Cheryl, said yesterday. ``Indy is it for her."

Indy, short for Independence, has been Hailey's service dog since last August and follows the 8-year-old almost everywhere she goes. Everywhere except school.

Scituate school officials have barred Indy, saying that on the few occasions Indy has visited Jenkins Elementary School, the 2-year-old dog has growled and barked at students and teachers.

``The dog was poorly trained and aggressive," said Mary Ellen Sowyrda, a lawyer for the district. ``There is a safety issue. We don't want kids getting bitten."

Earlier this month, school officials and Cheryl Manduca met with a state-appointed mediator, who drew up an agreement between the two sides. Sowyrda declined to discuss the details of the agreement, but Manduca said she refused to sign it because it only called for a human aide for Hailey, which she said is required by law because of her daughter's condition. Manduca said school officials told her that neither Indy nor any other service dog would be allowed at the school.

Hailey said she would rather be home schooled than be apart from Indy. ``I'm very upset about this. I want my service animal," she said in a telephone interview yesterday from her house.

She has a severe form of osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital disease that causes brittle bones, and has suffered 60 broken bones, her mother said.

Indy pulls Hailey's manual wheelchair when the little girl is too tired to walk. When Hailey, who also has dwarfism, walks down stairs, she leans on Indy as if she were a railing.

Sowyrda said school officials were excited to learn last year that there would be a dog at the school. But they became wary when the dog's trainer failed to show up at scheduled appointments at the school, she said. When the trainer did show up, the dog had to be muzzled, and on more than one occasion Indy barked at teachers and students, Sowyrda said.

School officials ``are absolutely unopposed to properly trained service dogs," she said. ``We're not the bad guys here."

Katrin Andberg, who has trained Indy since she was a puppy, denied that she ever failed to show up for appointments and said Indy never needed a muzzle. During one visit to the school she placed a collar on Indy that wraps around the dog's snout. The collar was supposed to help Hailey lead Indy around the school, Andberg said.

``She's one of the friendliest dogs I've ever worked with," said Andberg, who runs Maplewood Assistance Partners Inc. in Foxborough. ``She's very kid-friendly. That's one of the reasons I placed her with Hailey."

Getting another dog is out of the question, Cheryl Manduca said. The wait for service dogs can be two years because of the training they must receive, she said. Service dogs can take from 6 to 18 months to train properly, Andberg said.

Hailey, who doctors said would not live more than a week when she was born, has bonded with Indy, Cheryl Manduca said.

``[We] need to be together," Hailey said.
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Old 08-16-2006, 09:06 AM   #2
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some comments on the paper's online message board

"Send the brat and her pooch someplace else. There's no reason why such a clearly aggressive and dangerous dog should be in the presence of schoolchildren. If I were a parent and if that dumb dog bit or lunged after my kids, I would have been furious and filed a lawsuit so fast it would make that girl's head spin. Let's be real: dogs don't belong in school. They pose immediate health and safety risks for young children. If the kid's bones break easily, then she should go to a special school or be educated at home."

"I am appalled at this display of pure meaness. Hasn't this girl suffered enough?? This animal makes the world a safer place for her, what are the chances he' s going to hurt someone else. This dog is trained to deal with sick children. These officials are just looking for an easy way out. Replacing the dog with a human aid takes security and safety away from a brave little girl who is only trying to fit in with the children around her."

"We live in a culture of entitlement. "I have a right to do this; I have a right to do that." You do not have a right to bring animals to school! Hello, common sense! This shouldn't even be up for discussion, here."

"It's a tough call. I think that having the guide dog present in school would help not only Hailey, but the other children to understand her condition better as well. I also can't imagine that a professionally trained guide dog would exhibit aggressive behavior. The school's defense lawyer was quoted as saying, ``The dog was poorly trained and aggressive," but I don't think she should be the final word. Why not bring in a qualified, outside party to determine whether or not the dog should be around children and teachers. "
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Old 08-16-2006, 09:16 AM   #3
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Hard question. If the dog has in fact growled and barked, it's probably not showing aggression, but being protective of the child. However, I find that unacceptable for a properly trained service dog. The dog needs to be assessed by a behaviorist, not anyone who happened to observe the "aggressive" behavior.
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Old 08-16-2006, 09:31 AM   #4
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I don't see this as a matter of discrimination when the school is placed in the difficult situation of assessing an apparently improperly trained service dog. The dog may be protecting the girl, but it would also be disruptive in class if always protecting the girl.
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Old 08-16-2006, 10:15 AM   #5
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one party says the dog isn't properly trained, the other party says it is

I feel it's hard to say much on this matter as long as this isn't cleared up

if the dog doesn't cause a disruption during lessons I don't see a problem
reasoning that the dog could strike out and bite doesn't make a lot of sense to me unless the case is to get rid of dogs as a domestic pet entirely
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Old 08-16-2006, 10:20 AM   #6
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I think that a compromise can be reached whereas the dog would be muzzled during school hours so as not to disrupt or endanger the other students.
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Old 08-16-2006, 10:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by AchtungBono
I think that a compromise can be reached whereas the dog would be muzzled during school hours so as not to disrupt or endanger the other students.
Agreed, however if the dog is being protective and showing aggression, it does need to be properly trained and socialized. A muzzle will prevent an incident, but the dog won't change and will always be a liability.
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Old 08-16-2006, 12:02 PM   #8
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I think once you can independently assess whether or not the dog is adequately trained, then this can be better addressed.
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Old 08-16-2006, 12:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
I think once you can independently assess whether or not the dog is adequately trained, then this can be better addressed.
Definitely true, but also as a general question-what about some of those comments I posted? I can't believe some people have those attitudes. They seem to have no idea what assistance animals can do and how important they are. Some of those comments are ignorant, and why should she have to be schooled at home or at a special school?

Maybe the dog's behavior is more related to being protective of the little girl, but I do understand the safety concerns.
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Old 08-16-2006, 12:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen


Definitely true, but also as a general question-what about some of those comments I posted? I can't believe some people have those attitudes. They seem to have no idea what assistance animals can do and how important they are. Some of those comments are ignorant, and why should she have to be schooled at home or at a special school?

The first and third posts are reprehensible. A service dog is no different that employing a person that helps with special needs. The dog is far more effecitve and efficient because unlike a human aid, the sole purpose of the dog's existence is to care for her, and s/he can be present 24/7.

I don't understand the one about "entitlement". Has that person lived under a rock? I've seen service dogs pretty much everywhere I go at some point in time. In elementary school, we had a guy come every year with his dog to teach people about service dogs. Yes, the child is as "entitled" to the presence of her dog as she is the presence of her wheelchair and other aid devices.

I agree completely with the fourth post.
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Old 08-16-2006, 12:59 PM   #11
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Oh, the comments are idiotic and probably a good representation of what those people are really like.

Would they rather be disabled so that they too can ask for a guide dog out of "entitlement"?
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:12 PM   #12
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It just makes me wonder how many people think disabled people/parents of disabled kids have a sense of entitlement. Isn't it still rather taboo to say things like that? Of course the internet really doesn't have taboos like that.
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
It just makes me wonder how many people think disabled people/parents of disabled kids have a sense of entitlement.
Quite a few. I used to design commercial buildings, and of course we have to live up to all the minimum requirements stated by law for parking layouts, bathroom layouts, hallways, etc. And you wouldn't believe the comments I got from clients, contractors, and others involved in the building process. Most of them used the term "entitlement" somewhere in there comments.

If I could have one wish granted to me, it would be that all these "entitlement" folks, all these racists, all these homophobes, all these religiously intolerant assholes of this country got to live one week in the shoes of which they don't understand.
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:27 PM   #14
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That's very surprising to me, that people would be so open in saying things like that. Then again, people are so open about other prejudices. I guess it somehow seems even worse to me (not that all prejudice isn't equally horrible) that it's a little girl and they still say that. I agree, if anyone feels a sense of entitlement it is people who have never had to live in the shoes of anyone who is "different" in any way and are so lacking in empathy.
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
It just makes me wonder how many people think disabled people/parents of disabled kids have a sense of entitlement. Isn't it still rather taboo to say things like that? Of course the internet really doesn't have taboos like that.
Yeah, you're right about the Internet, because my feeling is a lot of these people would self-censor in public and would never say that sort of thing out loud in polite company.

But there is also the entitlement view. You don't see it just with disabilities, but things like affirmative action. I remember going to visit a law school open house this past spring when I was trying to decide where to go and there were a bunch of seminars and talks organized that day. One of them was basically about the "holistic" approach to admissions (ie. look beyond the numbers to things like a history of racial discrimination, overcoming disabilities or extreme poverty, systemic disadvantages, etc). And while everyone was pretty open to the idea publicly, after it ended and I was walking out the lecture hall, several people in front of me were already making comments about who in this room was entitled to admission not because they were smart but because they were "lucky" to be from the ghetto.

So yes, these ideas do still have their followers.
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