Tag Archives: Special Education Service Dog

Service Dog Agency Shut Down and Being Investigated- Buying a service dog

One of many stories here
So there is this service dog agency that supposedly provides seizure alert dogs, german shepherds, to those who suffer from seizure.

People that pay up to 20,000.00 for the dogs, not all but some of them, start to complain that these are not trained to the level they expected and are more like just pets and that they don’t alert to seizures.

One of his dogs that was placed with a child was left unaltered with the job being left to the family who, of course, didn’t get it done. Now I have a previous post on intact service dogs, and I don’t, at the core, have a problem with them anywhere, anytime and anyhow- there are some REALLY compelling reasons not to do early spay/neuter on dogs. BUT, and this is a big but, generally I wouldn’t be placing them out with someone else and especially not a child.

If I keep my dogs intact for a period of time to mature or forever I bear all the responsibility from beginning to end for anything that happens as a result and I am comfortable bearing that responsibility and choosing that for myself and my dog for whatever time period. It is a big responsibility if you are committed to seeing that nothing happens that wouldn’t happen if the dog was altered. What I am not comfortable doing is handing an intact dog to someone else who really doesn’t have a clue. You’re just asking for accidents, incidents from behavior issues that the handler hasn’t a clue how to address and puppies- all of which do not need to happen. No thank you. And for a child, no how, no way, not ever,

A legal investigation ensues.

In the trainers defense, he says that these people are having issues due to a lack of good handling skills, and I have seen that with my own dogs when handed to someone who hasn’t a clue what they are doing. They try to pull stuff until I sharply say their name then they straighten up and fly right. He says there is a return policy (as if dogs are cars or something- but I get it).

Anyway, he is now prohibited by court order for the time being from providing dogs to anyone.

I saw another individual out there wanting to charge the same 20k to guide the person in training their own service dog (blinks), the same thing I do for free and I’m not sure at all there is even the same level of experience there to be doing that….just saying. But hey, for all I know they could put me face down in the dust- I doubt it though.

This is what I have been saying and this is part of the reason why I have been very hesitant to train dogs myself and place them out fully trained. My dogs generally equal or exceed program dogs in the end, but part of the reason I think is not that I am so much more gifted as a trainer than they are, that’s not it at all, I can concentrate on one or two dogs day in and day out and all through the night where they might have a whole handful of dogs or more to work with in a day. The more you pile on, the less each one gets as an individual. Then there is program requirements and restrictions I am guessing that they have to follow. I bet their personal dogs are just amazing creatures.

I get leery whenever I see or hear of someone wanting to charge huge amounts of money for a service dog. Yes, trainers deserve to get good compensation for their hard work, and they hardly do. When there is large money involved it is very tempting to cut corners to get that dog out so you have time to do just one more dog that you can charge large amounts for. Large agencies have a sort of checks and balances system so that less of this can happen and people get decent dogs, individuals do not so there is a much higher risk there.

If a person is going to go to a small agency where you are paying a mint for a trained dog, a whole lot more caution needs to be employed. There is nothing wrong at all in buying a dog trained for service work and it can work out quite well. You don’t pay in full for that dog until you SEE it doing every job that it is supposed to yourself and handle that dog yourself to make sure that everything is in working order that you’re paying all that money for. Like any other service an individual off the street provides you, would you pay for it sight unseen and without the job being done first and inspected to be to your satisfaction? Any small agency or trainer that is charging 10′s of thousands of dollars should have no problem with this and understand the caution. And that includes ME (assuming I ever did train a dog to place out and assuming I actually had the balls to charge a mint for it). It’s just common sense people.

And you don’t, DON’T pay someone a mint for something like guidance training a service dog yourself. The most that is reasonable is a little bit higher than any other dog trainer charges for private classes. Ok, you pay the going rate for training guidance plus a little for  the experience that is service dog specific. That is ALL. This isn’t rocket science, it’s specialized dog training, like training for scent work, schutzhund or agility.

And a word on trainers. Some people go to formal classes and similar to learn to train dogs, others learn through a long period of experience and in both types there are those that were born with the gift for training dogs. It was said that this guy’s only experience in training dogs for scent work was raccoon hunting in a scoffing way.  The proof is in the pudding not in the certificates someone holds that someone taught them how to make pudding. Catch my drift?

That is further proven by dogs that are strictly owner trained dogs with no help. Many meet or exceed the program dogs, a few are miserable examples. Those people with the finely trained dogs usually have or start out with the same exact documentation on their ability to train dogs as the most horrible trainers- not a darn thing. Until very recently when people started getting together and putting together instructional classes and associations, that is how dog trainers proved themselves….not by graduation certificates from dog trainer programs or membership in that association or another association but by the product itself- usually displayed in competitions. I think that is the most valid way of evaluating someone for any skill…..by critical evaluation of the products they put out. Sabin’s apparently isn’t evaluating out well is what I am seeing.

And I really have to say, It really, REALLY pisses me off to see people take advantage of other peoples disabilities. You have to be a major slimebag to do something like that. SHAME! BAD HUMAN, BAAADDDDD HUMAN! Guess the judge gave him the ultimate irritated “Down!”, “Stayyyyy!” and “Leave It!”.

School district will allow service dog, won’t provide handler

This is a battle that has been going on for a bit now.

Here

This 5 year old child has a medical condition that causes seizures and autism and she has a service dog that can break through the seizures, help her start breathing again during one and can alert an adult that a seizure is coming.

Service Dog Hannah

Service Dog Hannah

Now generally I am not hugely in favor of service dogs in school for children that can’t handle the dogs themselves. This would be one of the exceptions in my mind. Seizures are destructive to a person’s brain if I understand correctly. Each one you have causes that much more damage and the bigger the seizure, the bigger the damage. Apparently the child stops breathing? Oh yeah that is kind of really essential to keep going.

I think the difference for me is the nature of the work and the urgency of the work. Social facilitation is great but there are ways around that and it isn’t essential all the time if a school district is doing their job they can keep a child from running off- theres alot a school district can do…breathing and lack of brain damage is kind of really important and not necessarily something the school can take care of by themselves. Knowing that something like that is coming when there is no other way to know is also really important. These are services that a school district can not provide no matter how hard they try. There is no alternative accommodation that can be made that matches this, there just isn’t.

Now a bit on special education law (which this child falls under). A school district has to provide the services and accommodations that a child needs to be able to get their education. This is another law completely separate from the ADA. What these things are isn’t spelled out specifically, it is just said that if it is determined that something needs to be done or given for the child to have their education, the school has to see to it.They don’t get to say no.

While the ADA states that a public accommodation is not responsible for the care of the service dog, under special ed law if that service dog is necessary for that child to be able to get an appropriate education (and they have agreed it is) then they HAVE to do what needs to be done so the child has the dog…period. If that means that they have to train someone to act as handler (and come on people, it’s not THAT hard) then that is what they have to do. The teacher could very easily learn any commands that are needed to manage the dog throughout the day. A classroom aide could too. You’d think someone was asking them to go off to the gallows or something.

The school district here is fighting a losing battle and they’ll be toast in short order, they just don’t have a leg to stand on.And now she has a lawyer. Watch and see if I’m not right…..

Can’t get a tow!

Ok, now that I have cooled off and recovered from the day I thought I’d tell the story of what happened outside of what was going on with the school district today.

We’re talking about the tow truck company that triple A sent out to tow the van.

There were 5 of us plus my rotty and my daughters little dog. We were pretty sure that we couldn’t all fit in the tow truck but we were going to ask and even if not ask about the possibility that I could ride with, be dropped off at my house, get my vehicle and run back for the kids.

As soon as we asked about all riding in the truck he immediately said that the dogs were not allowed but he could accommodate the people (Insert heavy sigh….here we go again). So I started to explain to him that they were service dogs and allowed by state and federal law and were not allowed to be barred. He, of course, argued with me a bit then came up with the standard “but the insurance says” and was very definite that the dogs would not be allowed because he would get in trouble. Otherwise he was a very nice guy. I don’t think he was meaning to be obnoxious, I think he didn’t know and that can be attributed to his bosses.

(Growls under my breath) So my dad calls his best friend to pick us up in the end and that worked out fine, but that doesn’t negate what could have happened if things had been different and that keeps eating at me..a fear and an anger about it.

But I have to think what IF his friend had not been home, what IF it was my vehicle and I was alone with my kids in that 95 degree heat, what IF I had no other way or help….now I’m in a position of extreme vulnerability and severely triggered and irrevocably stranded. Luckily in this instance there WAS another way out, but what if there hadn’t been. This begs another question as to what do they do for those people that have their pet dogs with them? Are you supposed to leave your dog by the side of the road? I DON’T think so!

My mother tried to educate him on the drive back to their house and all he would say is the insurance won’t allow it. Well, we’ll see about that.

So tomorrow I am going to swing into action and draft a letter to the bosses of that tow company and see if I can’t educate them. If they prove to be intractable I’ll end up going to triple A and dealing with them. I can’t in good conscience, knowing that they would just strand someone, sit back and do nothing. If I can prevent this from happening to someone that has no other way out I have to try.  Being stranded with kids and dogs like that with little options is just something that a person ought not have to deal with, especially if they PAID to have this service available to them when and if they needed it.

 

IEP meeting today…

Groans, what a day.

So there is an school meeting for my kids and my parents are attending. That in and of itself brings anxiety because of some things that happened that I’ll probably talk about later..The anxiety over it caused me to not be able to sleep much last night and a neck injury I have to kick up…blehhh. On the way there the van blows a coolant hose and we barely make it to a gas station before the van dies entirely.

So we’re stranded and I call the school people to let them know that we are dead in the water. She says she can have someone pick us up and when I say well I need to figure out how I’ll get home she says we’ll figure that out.

Well we have the meeting and they accept my daughters dog without a battle (that is a miracle in and of itself- I think I have pinned their ears so far back that they don’t dare mess with me). So the meetings are over and all of a sudden no one is interested in figuring out anything

Now you must understand, I live out in the country more or less. This is not a big city with buses running…this is a little out of the way country town. So I call around to see what can be done, find nothing of worth, and someone from there takes myself, my mom and my kids and drops us back off at the gas station where my dad (who is not well) has been waiting.

They needed to go as my dad was getting worse, they needed to get the tow truck there and they needed to go. We weren’t sure what was going to happen to me till my dad remembered his friend half an hour away.  Luckily his friend was home and agreed to come pick me and the kids up while my parents took the car home. I should note: this was in 95 degree heat. I got distressed kids, thirsty hot dogs and my condition is kicking up and I am fighting being anxious.

So, I did make it home with the kids and dogs in one piece. My daughter’s condition starts to kick up because of the heat…send her to a shower and then for a nap (reminds me, I need to go check on her as soon as I am done here). My son passed out almost immidiately then I went and layed down.

Right now I could do with some Calgon (you know the commercial, Calgon take me away!). Thank goodness not ever day is like this or I just wouldn’t be able to deal.