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After having my daughter Sara go to sleep away camp for several years with campers who had service dogs our family started the wheels in motion to get her a dog. Every year Sara has bunked with her friend Lynsay who bring the super dog Webster to camp. Webster comes from Canine Partners for Life. Webster has “alerted” that Sara was going to have a seizure several times while Sara attended the camp. Schools cannot guarantee your dog can alert for a seizure, but they can train the dog to give you help if you have a seizure event. Dogs can get you a phone, open drawers, get your  medication, or a bottle of water from the fridge. Dogs are trained to stay with their master until they have recovered from their seizure. Within the service dog community you can find several categories of training schools. There are dogs for people who are blind, have autism, diabetes, mobility issues, and seizure disorders. When picking a school Sara and I were interested in finding a good match for how Sara has treated other pets. In Georgia there is a terrific school run by Jennifer Arnold that uses love and kindness to train service animals, Canine Assistants. Sara treats all our pets like babies, and would not be able to be too firm with a dog, use a choke collar, or be mean in anyway to an animal. This school was a great match to Sara’s loving personality. They offer a follow up service and have someone work with you after you finish the training camp.

 

We have a date in the fall to attend Canine Assistants training school and are busy getting ready. We made a video about Sara’s home and daily activities for the school to review. We have been interviewed, filled out doctor’s surveys, put up a fence, and are searching for a local veterinarian. We have talked to  the programs that Sara attends  to “alert” of this new change.The policies that guide the rules for a service dog fall under the Justice Department ADA. Pretty much any place you can go if you are a person with a disability, your dog is allowed to go also. There were some interesting facts on the ADA web page such as:

 

  • It is not okay to use allergies or fear of animals as an excuse to ban a service dog.
  • Violators of the ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties.

 

 

To ask about your business, school, non profit and it’s obligation to include service dogs you can contact the ADA  at 800-514-0301 or try them on the web at

 

www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm

 

 

for frequently asked questions. Complaints can be filed with the same Justice Department if a non profit, business, or school is unwilling to allow a certified service animal in their doors.

 

Consider a donation or volunteer for Canine Assistants contact them at

 

www.canineassistants.org

 

Maybe you have a child with a seizure disorder and are considering a camp for this summer, try to contact the EFNJ Camp Nova program.

http://www.efnj.com/what-we-offer/programs/camp-nova/

 

 

Hope your family finds the right service animal for your family member with special needs.

 

 

Lisa Bock

 

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