Diane Petillo has the honor of posting our 100th post:
And now for an update on a previous post in the case ofCave v. East Meadow Union Free School District, et al. John Cave, Jr. testified in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of NY (Central Islip) on February 22nd before EDNY Judge Arthur Spatt, at which time he detailed how the school’s refusal to allow him to bring Simba, his service dog, to school has impacted his relationship with Simba, as well as his training.
John testified that, as a result of the time he has been forced to spend away from him, Simba’s skills are waning. John went on to testify that: "He's breaking his commands at home when he's not supposed to. He's barking at sounds. He's not allowed to do that," Cave said. "He's not doing as well because he's not going to school."
During his testimony, Cave said Simba has been trained to alert him to cars, smoke alarms and bell rings by nudging him. Without the dog, Cave said, he couldn't respond immediately when a fire alarm sounded at school recently. It was only after John saw the other students getting up that he asked someone, who then informed him that the fire alarm had rung.
If Simba had been with him, one nudge from him would have alerted John immediately that there was a problem. Imagine that instead of being in a classroom with other students, John was in a bathroom stall by himself. Would someone have gone looking for him, or would he eventually figure out that something had happened when he saw no one else in the building?
Imagine, for a moment, the world around you has quieted. If you would indulge me this simple exercise, please turn on your television (or hit play on a YouTube broadcast if you are not near a television screen), mute the sound, and turn off the caption for a few minutes. How much of the conversation were you able to comprehend? It is obvious to me that you will realize how much of our world is auditory, and how much we fail to grasp when deprived of the gift of hearing. This is the world of John Cave, Jr., and so many people like him.
I have been criticized in a recent blog response regarding my analogy of Simba to John with eyeglasses to those who are visually impaired. I thank Kathy Podger for her support in this analogy. Service animals, trained specifically to help individuals overcome the limitations of their disabilities are no different than eyeglasses, hearing aids, canes, wheelchairs or other equipment.
Animals that meet the definition as set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act are considered ‘service animals’ regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government or any other public or private entity. If you scroll down the last link, you will see that fear of allergy or dogs does not entitle the public entity to deny the animal access.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons who rely upon service animals have the right to have their animals accompany them wherever they go. This includes public buildings, railroads, and the subway.
The American with Disabilities Act is quite clear on this point. It is not about the device; it is about the individual’s needs. It is about what John is entitled to under the law.
P.S.: During the entire 90-minute testimony, Simba was quiet and still. Apparently, Simba is his own best argument that he will not be a disruption in class. After all, actions speak louder than woofs.