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Old 01-04-2011, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,913,849 times
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An ALexandria family is battling with Fairfax County Public Schools over its decision not to allow their epilectic son bring a German shepherd service dog to school until such time it’s satisfied that the boy can manage his canine companion, and that his fellow Fort Belvoir Elementary School students will be safe.

The bone of contention in the case is whether Andrew, who attends special education and operates at a learning function below his sixth-grade age level, is able to fully control Alaya in a classroom setting. Fairfax Public Schools has guidelines requiring that any service dogs be trained by the nonprofit Assistance Dogs International. This dog was trained by the New York-based Seizure Alert Dogs for Life, a for-profit organization unaffiliated with ADI.

The family maintains the dog can respond to a seizure in seconds, when it might take teachers minutes to respond.

Opinions?


School bars 12-year-old epileptic boy
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Maine
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Thank you for posting this story, Caladium. I've been following this on another Fairfax forum, and it really bothers me that Fairfax County Public Schools is denying this boy the opportunity to be at school with his peers.

It seems FCPS only seeks diversity in its students if they meet certain other requirements. Unfortunately, this child is male, white, and the child of a military member--all negatives in the eyes of administrators. Some employees of FCPS don't even attempt to hide their disdain for military families, in my experience. We've encountered a few who are kind to us, but unfortunately, that's not standard for this area.
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Old 01-04-2011, 05:18 PM
 
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I doubt there is any malice involved.

Since the dog is from an unapproved source, FCPS probably wants a court order that FORCES them to allow the dog in the school. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems that would absolve the school system from liability if something did go wrong.

As a taxpayer, I think that is the proper way to handle this case. Lord knows the budget is tight enough without paying damages to the parents of a kid injured by the dog.
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Old 01-04-2011, 06:22 PM
 
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I would take another approach. I would have it put in the IEP and make them go to due process, if they maintain that the student is not certified to manage the dog I would put it in the IEP that the school has to provide a handler, if they refuse that I would again go to due process. They really don't have any real alternatives.
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:58 PM
 
Location: Virginia
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According to this link, which was posted in the Education forum, he can now attend with his dog.

Victory! 12-Year-Old With Epilepsy Can Bring Service Dog To School | Education | Change.org
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:27 PM
 
Location: Maine
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Another article from the Washington Post:

Dog that helps epileptic boy will get 2-week tryout at school

Glad they're willing to give him a try. The dog is probably better trained than some people's children. The experience may teach the other children A LOT about looking beyond people's appearances and reaching out to people who are different from them.

Last edited by Fern435; 01-04-2011 at 08:45 PM.. Reason: misspelled word (it's late)
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:19 AM
 
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I think there will be a shake out in service dog certification over the next few years. People are using laws aimed at protecting the disabled, to help them bring large, dangerous dogs into HOAs, and onto public transit. Sometimes it is obvious these dogs are nothing but a companion. That's not the case here, but did the parents really have to get a German Shepherd? FCPS is obligated to verify the dog is safe, they aren't being Scrooge.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Virginia
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I always worry about the other children teasing the dog. I think it's smart to allow it on a trial basis. Hopefully it goes well, and then they can let the dog stay.
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Old 01-05-2011, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Maine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khuntrevor View Post
I think there will be a shake out in service dog certification over the next few years. People are using laws aimed at protecting the disabled, to help them bring large, dangerous dogs into HOAs, and onto public transit. Sometimes it is obvious these dogs are nothing but a companion. That's not the case here, but did the parents really have to get a German Shepherd? FCPS is obligated to verify the dog is safe, they aren't being Scrooge.
Why is the German Shepherd breed a problem? I don't have a load of statistics to toss in here, but I'd guess that smaller breed dogs are far more likely to bite or get aggressive, especially with children. German Shepherds, when *socialized* and treated properly, are wonderful dogs. This student's dog is undoubtedly very well-trained and socialized, and she (the dog) will probably teach some things about good behavior to students.
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Old 01-05-2011, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 9,582,142 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khuntrevor View Post
I think there will be a shake out in service dog certification over the next few years. People are using laws aimed at protecting the disabled, to help them bring large, dangerous dogs into HOAs, and onto public transit. Sometimes it is obvious these dogs are nothing but a companion. That's not the case here, but did the parents really have to get a German Shepherd? FCPS is obligated to verify the dog is safe, they aren't being Scrooge.
While I agree that it can be a problem that a dog does not even require basic training to be called a "service dog", German Shepherds are not any more dangerous than a golden retriever when well trained. A well trained dog is a well trained dog. Shepherds are often used as seeing eye dogs, search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, etc. They're smart, strong, and willing to work. That's important. If this little boy has a seizure, a shepherd is something he can grab onto and could help lower him to the ground. It could block other joe-blow people from getting close to him while he seizes. Maybe the shepherd was the dog that had the best ability to detect his type of seizures. Maybe the little boy just adores German shepherds. Doesn't really matter, so long as the dog is appropriately trained.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fern435 View Post
Why is the German Shepherd breed a problem? I don't have a load of statistics to toss in here, but I'd guess that smaller breed dogs are far more likely to bite or get aggressive, especially with children. German Shepherds, when *socialized* and treated properly, are wonderful dogs. This student's dog is undoubtedly very well-trained and socialized, and she (the dog) will probably teach some things about good behavior to students.
ATTS - American Temperament Test Society, Inc. - ATTS Breed Statistics (http://www.atts.org/statistics.html - broken link)

German Shepherd: 84.2% passed
Golden Retriever: 84.6% passed
Cocker Spaniel: 81.9% passed
etc, etc.

Smaller dogs are no more likely to bite than large ones if both sizes are well bred and well socialized as pups. The reason dogs are snappy or yappy is almost always either backyard breeders who don't temperament test dogs before breeding, or because they were not exposed to enough people/places/things during their socialization window. (Or because they were abused in some way).
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