Written By: Renegades Save Our Service Animals Foundation
|Bambi in the Mobility Scooter|
ADA Law States:
- Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA. (Exception: Miniature Horses)
- A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
- Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.
At no point and time does it say that small dogs cannot be Service Animals. On the contrary, today many small dogs are being utilized as Medical Alert, Psychiatric Service Dogs, etc. Nor does the ADA Law state that people are not allowed, with proper consent from the Disabled Individual, to say hello to the Service Animal.
ADA Law States:
- When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is he dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. 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 demonstrates its ability to perform the work or task.
When you meet a person with a service dog, please remember that the dog is working. Don't do anything to interrupt the service dog while it is performing its tasks.
Some Rules for Interacting with People with Service Dogs:
1. Speak to the person first. Do not aim distracting or rude noises at the dog.
2. Do not touch the service dog without asking for, and receiving, permission.
3. Do not offer food to the service dog.
4. Do not ask personal questions about the handler's disability, or otherwise intrude on his or her privacy.
5. Don't be offended if the handler does not wish to chat about the service dog.
What if you don't like dogs or are afraid of dogs?
Place yourself away from the service dog. If you are a business person, discreetly arrange for someone else to wait on the person. You may ask the person to have the service dog lie down if it does not interfere with its work.
What if the service dog barks, growls, or otherwise forgets its manners?
Find out what happened before taking action. Was the service dog stepped on, poked, asleep and dreaming, performing its job (some alert their owners to oncoming seizures, diabetes, anxiety, PTSD, etc by barking and/or whinning and/or getting someone nearby or in authority for additional assistance)?
What if other people complain about the dog being present?
Explain that the service dog is medically necessary and that federal law protects the right of the person to be accompanied by the service dog in public places.
Again, at no point and time does it say that small dogs cannot be Service Animals. On the contrary, today many small dogs are being utilized as Medical Alert, Psychiatric Service Dogs, etc. Nor does the ADA Law state that Service Dogs are not allowed, with proper consent from the Disabled Individual, to say hello to the Service Animal.
|Bambi and Dr Roy Phillips|
This wonderful Service Canine, Bambi, and her Visually, Physically, and Neurologically Challenged Human Partner plus an associate assistant, went about, upon arrival via Medical Transportation, first to the Hospital Cafeteria for some very much needed Coffee. From there, Bambi (SD), her human partner, and the associate assistant who is also Disabled and in a Powerchair, proceeded to the Medical Office of the Director of Neuro-Ophthalmology, Dr Vivian Rismondo, where everyone, staff and patients, were so happy to see their precious little friend, Bambi.
After the appointment they returned to the Hospital Cafeteria as the Disabled SD Team Handler and her assistant associate were both thirsty. After purchasing two Root Beers, they headed back towards the Main Entrance of GBMC Hospital to await medical transportation pickup. A young woman, either an intern or a medical doctor as she was wearing the white coat, approached Bambi with such admiration and asked if she could pet her. Without hesitation, the Multi-Disabled Individual approved. The GBMC Staff Member bent down to stroke Bambi's head and even played with her for a while. When she left an elderly couple sitting right across also spoke fondly of Bambi and asked if they could pet her and again the response was yes. It was a wonderful moment for Bambi since she was able to interact with both Staff and Patients of the Hospital, which is very important as she is a Medical Alert Dog and needs to trust others in the event of an EMERGENCY with her human partner.
Some ten to fifthteen minutes later, a security guard (in uniform) of the Hospital approached and stated that "they" had informed him the Disabled Person could not be in the Hospital with the dog -- This very same security guard had seen the Service Dog Team earlier in the day and he too had said hello to Bambi -- Further, the security guard had seen the SD Team the week before and the month before that and even prior and never made any comment of "they had said" -- He was immediately informed that the dog was a Service Animal and was within legal rights to be there -- The security guard left and return shortly after indicating that "they" had made it known that if the Disabled Individual did not leave the Hospital with the dog they would call the police. The Visually, Physically, and Neurologically Challenged Individual, in a mobility scooter, with the Service Dog secured in the Basket, stated to the security guard that she was waiting for medical transportation to pick them up and Bambi was a Service Animal, therefore she would not be leaving the Hospital (GBMC) until transportation arrived. If he wanted she could call the police for them. Again the security guard left. During the process, the Multi-Disabled Handler went to the Administrative Office located just around the corner from the incident. Spoke with a lady with blonde hair about being harassed because of the Service Dog and the response was shocking "that is your problem". At this point, the Administration of the Hospital had the opportunity to resolve the matter in a manner that was not in violation of the Civil Rights of the SD Team and her associate assistant, but Administration refused to do so. What an unprofessional and degrading response that was for a supposed Medical Professional. Sad to say, the lack of appropriate intervention from the Administration led to further harassment and abuses that took place later.
|Bambi and UCH Staff|
The police did arrived and the SD Team plus the associate assistant were under the impression that their civil rights would now be under protection as in accordance with ADA Law. How wrong they were! Apparently, the Baltimore County Police were not there to even ask the Disabled Person in the mobility scooter with the Service Dog and/or the associate assistant (also in a powerchair and developmentally challenged) what the situation was. Instead, they approached the associate assistant and while he was attempting to explain that Bambi was a Service Animal, the police officer bent over him and screamed and yelled at the top of his lungs for the associate assistant "to shut the hell up and who the hell did he think he was." The police officer then attempted to overthrow the associate assistant from his powerchair. Yes, you read this right. The police officer then attempted to overthrow the associate assistant from his powerchair. Upon seeing that her assosciate assistant was about to be physically violated, the SD Team Handler in the mobility scooter moved closer to her associate assistant and the police officer and say to the officer "Don't you dare. Don't you dare even think of overthrowing my associate assistant from his powerchair or else you and the two other officers will be in some very serious legal problems and your actions are presently being recorded and taped by the cellphone and video camera on the mobility scooter". The police did back off from attempting to overthrow the associate assistant, which highly surprised both the associate assistant and the SD Team Handler. Bambi (SD) crouched even deeper in the basket in front of the mobility scooter completely traumatized by the Baltimore County Police and now has trust issues with persons in uniform. GEE, WONDER WHY? The associate assistant has not been able to sleep without nightmares since that day. To the dismay of an already disgusting situation, it did not end there.
|Bambi and UCH Staff|
The police decided that now they would approach, harass, and threaten the Visually, Physically, and Neurologically Disabled Individual in the mobility scooter with the Service Dog, Bambi. They proceeded to yell in her face that she was a criminal, that she was trespassing on the Hospital grounds, and that her dog was not a Service Dog because there was no such thing as a small SD -- they said it was obvious that the dog was a pet because it was a small dog -- they yelled that if the SD Team and the associate assistant did not leave the Hospital they would be arrested for trespassing and other charges would also follow -- The Multi-Disabled Individual knowing that she was within her legal rights responded to the Baltimore county Police Officer, in a calm but firm manner, that she was not intimidated by his bullying, yelling and screaming, nor his uniform, nor his badge, nor his gun -- that it was them that were the criminals as they were violating the Civil Rights of both herself and her associate assistant while in uniform and with full knowledge that her and her associate assistant were well within their legal rights to be there, thus now they, the Baltimore county Police, themselves were committing a felony known as "color of law abuses" by police officers in uniform -- She went on to inform them that their attempt to overthrow her assistant associate, who was Multi-Disabled and Developmentally Challenged, from his powerchair was inhumane, immoral, and deplorable, that such actions were punishable by law and they would not get away with it as she was recording and videoing the entire event. That the cellphone was on and others were listening to their entire unprofessional and corrupt behavior -- She further stated that there would definitely be legal consequences for their actions as complaints and a lawsuit would be forthcoming -- Upon realizing that their violations of "color of law" was not making the Disabled Individual leave the Hospital until medical transportation arrived, they made a radio call for additional assistance on the matter -- That was a clue for both the Multi-Disabled Person, Bambi, and her associate assistant to seek refuge at the office of the Neuro-Ophthalmologist, Dr Vivian Rismondo, while awaiting their medical transportation. So they left for the Doctor's Office and let the medical transportation unit know exactly were they were and to please hurry as they were being harassed and threatened with arrest by the Baltimore County Police and the Hospital (GBMC) because the Service Dog was a Chiweenie. Medical Transportation arrived and safely took the SD Team and Associate Assistant home. However, continue to read as you will discover the horrors of this discriminatory event did not end here. Instead, the government agencies empowered to protect, investigate, and resolve such matters also participated in the abuses and violations.
|Bambi and UCH Staff|
|Bambi, Vascular Surgeon and UCH Staff|
The very next day after speaking with the Baltimore County Police an Internal Affairs Investigation was commenced and an apology was issued by a Lt McCollumn that claimed he was the Director of Internal Affairs not only to the Disabled Individual, but also to Reverend Rainette Murphy Lopez of Renegades Save Our Service Animals, As it turns out, this Lt had misrepresented himself to both Reverend Rainette and the SD Team Handler. Since then, copies of the Internal Affairs Investigation have not been forthcoming, but the apologies have continued with the promise to retrain their police officers as to Service Animal Law. Fine and great, except this does not alleviate or erase the trauma caused by their actions: the associate assistant is unable to sleep properly due to nightmares of the incident; Bambi is afraid of individuals in police and security guard uniforms and loud noises, even after a year; and the Multi-Disabled Partner, who also suffers from PTSD, despite standing her ground for her rights and that of her Service Dog and her associate assistant, is also in fear of those in such uniforms as now it has become more than evident that the police will not always abide by the law, but instead violate it further.
As for the Hospital, Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC), their response was extremely apologetic at first and with the promise to retrain their staff and security and generate new Service Animal polices for the Hospital Staff. Unfortunately, their Head of Security, Mr Miles, in a crude and vicious voice claimed he would without hesitation call the police each and every time that the SD Team Handler went to the Hospital with Bambi. He screamed and yelled (much like the Baltimore County Police did) over the phone that small dogs were not Service Animals and that she was a fraud, a disgrace, and a criminal. He called the Multi-Disabled Individual and her associate assistant "you people are always trying to get away with things" What exactly did Mr Miles mean by "you people"? Sounds a bit racist does it not? He said he knew what Service Dogs were and only Guide Dogs were Service Animals. He did not care what the ADA Law was, but for her never to show up with Bambi again or she would be arrested. This Miles said the same thing to Reverend Rainette Murphy Lopez from Renegades Save Our Service Animals.
|Bambi and Hart to Heart Ambulance Service|
Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) was informed of their Head of Security, Mr Miles, threat to continue the abuses against the Multi-Disabled Woman, her Service Dog Bambi, and her associate assistant. They were advised of the possible irreparable damage done to the Service Dog, Bambi, and how it relates to and affects her being a Medical Service Dog to the fullest. They were told of the mental trauma they caused on the associate assistant who only wanted to inform them of the fact that Bambi was a Service Animal and what the ADA Laws were. That this was most unforgivable and immoral, especially when Administration was given the opportunity that very day (July 7, 2011) to stop the abuse. The Hospital issued a written apology and a determination that they indeed were at fault. However, as previously stated, fine and great, except this does not alleviate or erase the trauma caused by their actions: the associate assistant is unable to sleep properly due to nightmares of the incident; Bambi is afraid of individuals in police and security guard uniforms and loud noises, even after a year; and the Multi-Disabled Partner, who also suffers from PTSD, despite standing her ground for her rights and that of her Service Dog and her associate assistant, is also in fear of those in such uniforms as now it has become more than evident that the police will not always abide by the law, but instead violate it further.
However, if after reading this you realize and feel the tragedy of the event, then prepare for the next phase of the matter. On July 8, 2011, after speaking with both the Hospital Attorney, Ms Martenelli; the Head of Security, Mr Miles; and the Baltimore County Police Chief; the Maryland State Commission of Civil Rights was contacted and a request for a complaint against GBMC and the Baltimore County Police was in demand. The Disabled woman spoke with a representative named Valerie at intake who was not very understanding or caring of the matter and tried to dismiss it completely. After insistence the complaint was taken for the Hospital or so it was thought, but Valerie from the Maryland Commission of Civil Rights refused to do the one against the Baltimore County Police. Also refused was the complaint for the the SD Handler associate assistant as Valerie claimed that he was not the patient and his mental disability would intervene. Apparently, the abuses and violations against the SD Team and the associate assistant were just beginning, only this time it was being done by the Maryland State Commission of Civil Rights. After not hearing from the Commission for almost a month or so, they were called again and it was discovered that the original complaint had not been taken at all, not even the one for the Hospital. This Valerie had deliberately misrepresented that the complaint was taken. How Cruel! How inhumane of them! A call had to be placed to the Director's Office of the Maryland Commission of Civil Rights in order for at least one of the complaints to be actually processed. Unfortunately, this Valerie, after receiving a call from the Director's Office still refused to take a complaint against the Baltimore County Police and to take complaints from the associate assistant. In the end and after many months of back and forth and the involvement of an understanding and caring Attorney, Chris Marts of Bel Air, Maryland, the complaints against the Baltimore County Police and the associate assistant complaints against both the Hospital (GBMC) and the Baltimore County Police were finally processed. Again, had it not been for an understanding and caring Attorney, Chris Marts, the rights of the Disabled Individual, Bambi, and the associate assistant, would have been further violated. However, once again, it does not conclude there at all. The matter moves forward with greater disturbance.
On Sept 28, 2012, a representative, Willie Owens, of the Maryland State Commission of Civil Rights after supposedly being lost in the neighborhood, finally arrived to the home scheduled interview with both the Multi-Disabled Woman in the mobility scooter with Service Dog, Bambi and associate assistant. As she stepped into the apartment, the very first words were she was late by two hours because her GPS brought her to another Pentwood Rd in Bel Air, Maryland. There is only one Pentwood Rd in Bel Air. There is a Pentwood Ct right next to Pentwood Rd. Doubt very much it takes two hours to cross the street. Further she refused to enter the apartment unless Bambi was placed in another room as she was severely afraid of dogs. WOW! In continuance and to the amazement of all, it appears that the Maryland State Commission of Civil Rights is not knowledgeable about the American With Disabilities Act pertaining to Service Animals or are pretending not to be informed. To the surprise of all, they are under the impression that one must provide proof that their Service Dog is indeed an SD via documentation and certification even though the ADA Law is very specific about such and states that it is a violation of Federal Law to request that; they are under the impression that one must provide proof of training, even though the ADA Law is very specific about such and states that it is a violation of Federal Law to request that; they are under the impression that Service Dogs are not allowed, even with the permission of the Disabled Owner, to socialize at all. There were so many questions that they themselves made that were in total violation of the ADA Law. They even asked what a Service Animal was. How can anyone investigate a Civil Rights Violation, Discrimination, and Harassment Case if they do not know what a Service Animal is to begin with! With all the information in respect to Service Animals on the Department of Justice website and via research on Google, how can Investigator Willie Owens for the Maryland Commission of Civil Rights approach a case without first enlightening herself as to the ADA Law and the subject matter of Service Animals. Her own questions during the interview were in direct violation of the Federal Law and quite racist as well. This investigator, Willie Owens, while a very personable individual to a point, asked if Bambi had the proper identification, certification, and training to be qualified as a Service Dog. If not, there was no case. She also requested to know if Bambi was properly identified so that everyone would automatically know that she was an SD. This is also in direct violation of the ADA Service Animal Law. Then she went on to say that it did not matter as she had already made up her mind on this case prior to coming to the apartment. She flatly and clearly stated that she was ruling against the SD Team Handler and her associate assistant on the grounds that the Disabled Person with the Service Dog had already seen her Doctor and therefore was not suppose to be in the Hospital. That the Service Dog, Bambi, had no documentation to prove it was a Service Dog. This is most illegal for an Investigator (Willie Owens) to decide on a case WITHOUT properly investigating it. At no point, was it ever said that Bambi did not have documentation. She does and it was offered, but the Investigator (Willie Owens) refused to see the documentation just as she refused to see Bambi.
ADA Law States:
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is he dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. 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 demonstrates its ability to perform the work or task.
|Bambi and her favorite person at UCH, Joe|
The violations did not end there either. The investigator, Willie Owens, continued repeating that Discrimination, Harassment, and Civil Rights Violations due to having a Service Animal might only be considered if the patient was denied medical services. That is just not true and thus lacks accuracy of law. While the SD Team Individual was able to attend to her appointment, this Multi-Disabled person was within her legal rights on the premises of the Hospital as she was awaiting for the arrival of her medical transportation in the exact same manner as there were others waiting for medical transportation and other services or simply resting for a moment. Waiting for medical transportation does not give any member of the Hospital Staff and/or the Baltimore County Police "carte blanche" to harass, discriminate, or violate the civil rights of a Disabled Individual in a mobility scooter with a Service Dog and/or the rights of the associate assistant. Discrimination is discrimination; harassment is harassment; and violating someone's civil rights is still violating someone's civil rights.
To say otherwise, would create a pandemic of abuses against the Disabled Community with Service Animals. As it is, there is already a growing trend for such discrimination and violations throughout the United States from Hospitals, Psychiatric Centers, Medical Offices, Medical Clinics, Counseling Centers, VA Hospitals, etc. Everyday these abuses and violations are featured in the news, internet, newspapers, and numerous courts throughout the country. If such is happening now, can one imagine when the medical field becomes aware that they can freely harass, discriminate, and violate the civil rights of the Disabled with Service Animals as long as they allow the person to attend their appointments. OMG! The thought of it alone is extremely frightening. So compelling is this matter, that it will force the Disabled Community with Service Animals back into their homes in hiding so as not be be harassed, discriminated against, and violated of their civil rights.
The most depressing point of this matter is that it will generate an epidemic of even further abuses from the business community as well. Places such as Walmarts, McDonalds, Wendy's, Movie Theaters, Museums, Aquariums, Parks, Zoos, Sears, JC Penny, Supermarkets, and/or all public places will soon follow suit as they will now have "carte blanche" to proceed with such disdain towards the Disabled Community and their Service Animals.
|Bambi attempting to re-trust people in uniform|
The Disabled Community and their Service Animals must unite so as to deter such harassment, violations, and abuses from not only the business and medical community, but also from non-disabled individuals who find it amusing that their pets or even themselves can cause harm via violations of their rights, mentally, verbally, and physically to a Service Animal and their SD Team Handler with and without associates assistants. The Disabled Community and their Service Animals must unite so as to ensure that those agencies entrusted to protect our rights are held accountable for their actions and do no further harm to the victims of such abuses by further violating them.
THERE IS NOW AN UPDATE TO THIS HORRIFIC STORY -- UNFORTUNATELY IT IS NOT GOOD AT ALL -- THE BATTLE GOES ON AS NOW THE MARYLAND CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION MUST BE BROUGHT TO FULL LEGAL JUSTICE FOR TOTAL VIOLATION OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF DISABLED INDIVIDUALS WITH SERVICE ANIMALS
READ THE NEXT ARTICLE TITLED: MARYLAND COMMISSION OF CIVIL RIGHTS ITSELF VIOLATES CIVIL RIGHTS OF THOSE WITH SERVICE ANIMALS.