Friday, September 02, 2005

Incongruancy of Law"

What about State vs. Federal law regarding the ADA?
Judge Jayden's Rowena Residing...

Perhaps the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is too long or too vague for people to read and comprehend. Perhaps the education of our state and government employees are lacking. Perhaps I am being nit-picky, but I don't think so. I just hate it when laws conflict with other laws or those who are supposed to uphold the laws really don't know what the laws are. It turns into the "blind leading the blind" which though politically incorrect and inaccurate, is supposed to mean something like someone who doesn't have a clue asks another person. The other person doesn't have a clue either, but does his/her best to answer the question. Something like that.
I finally called Animal Control of Orono back regarding the dog attack on Rowena in February. I asked about the rule regarding an attack on a service dog by another dog. The attack alone is enough to fine the owner of the dog $1000. I was told that the police were the ones to charge the fine. Another person told me that Animal Control is the one who fines them. It doesn't matter. Animal Control in towns in Maine are unlike the ones portrayed on Animal Planet Animal Cops programs who have many "officers"working the area. Around here there is one Animal Control officer per town. Orono is a college town a couple of towns away from mine. It is where a German Shepherd ran out the front door of a house that is located next to my doctor's office and attacked my then 5- month old petite, Border Collie pup as she walked calmly in a "heel" command on my left side. She was wearing her little orange service vest, a rolled nylon training collar and a 2-foot lead. She had no chance. When Animal Control, that is Cindy Dunton got involved (all though I question whether she ever really did get involved), it was several days after the incident. She told me that she didn't call before because the police report didn't mention any open wounds on my dog. She has obviously never tried to search the hairy, matted, wet and mud/gravel covered hindquarters of a Border Collie for puncture wounds when the dog had a winter coat. I also had the state of shock against me. The Veterinarian found the puncture wounds right off. Anyway, you can find that whole story in my archives. Cindy tells me that the 10 day quarentine time is nearly done so she would just go make sure that the dog is up on all his vaccinations. Like that would greatly diminish any damage he had done to my dog or myself. (Oh, good. He is vaccinated for Rabies. I guess that attack wasn't so traumatizing after all!) I was told that if my dog was indeed a service dog that I would have to make copies of all of her cards, etc. and she would call me back. Well, I called her today and she stated that she had called the Animal Welfare Offices in Augusta (State Capitol) and that the woman there said that that attack on a service animal law only applies to "certified" service dogs. When I asked her what that meant, she stated that it meant the dog had been evaluated & certified by a service dog trainer. Right. I stated that I was training my dog with the assistance from my dog's breeder who also teaches obedience. "Not good enough." Cindy replies. You know, I have gone to one fancy kennel/obedience class in this area and spoken to instructors of two other. Two of them I am totally against now. They are reputable kennels, but their teaching methods don't work well with my dog. They are so narrow in their methods that they don't see this. The third place is still a possibility, but I don't hold my breath and don't really want to waste any more money on obedience and training unless I can at least get a piece of paper saying we completed the class successfully. In my training program, I feel like I ask more of my dog than any "service dog evaluator" will ask for. Besides, who are these folks anyway? What makes their signature on a piece of decorative paper mean so much more than my signature or that of Rowena's obedience teacher/breeder. Not good enough? What is not good enough is the fact that this woman nor the person above her are familiar with the ADA that states that a person with a disability doesn't have to show certification for their service dog, and that the service dog can be handler/owner trained. What is not good enough is dog obedience schools who don't look at each dog as an individual who has her own learning styles. Obedience instructors who don't act like the owner/handler is not the one always at fault if the dog isn't performing well. (maybe the class environment is too stimulating for the specific breed, too many dogs...) What is not good enough is the fact that this person,
Tracie Jason (who wasn't present at the incident) and her German Shepherd are getting away with this whole incident basically unscathed at Rowena's and my expense... both financial: over $400 in vet bills and mentally, an increase in my PTSD symptoms (new triggers etc.) Tracie's sister Cindy was present when the dog attacked Rowena. When the police came by later (an hour and a half later), Cindy is recorded as saying: that my dog was in her front yard (impossibility since her house was on my right and Ro was leashed on my left on a short leash). Nothing I said was mentioned, no witnesses were mentioned (and there was one) and no mention of an injury was recorded. The dog has a rap sheet for running around unleashed. My doctor who's office is next door says that Tracie has boundary issues and that is why he had a fence built. The officer who took my complaint said that someone would call me back. A week later, I called them. A week later, nothing has changed except that I was still sleeping out in the living room with my injured dog. Nothing changed except that I would get an anxiety attack if I tried to deal with the aftermath of the whole dog attack. This dog still lunges at us from inside his house, slamming himself against the windows, pulling down venetian blinds and barking madly when we are on the lawn next door. This no longer means nothing to me. I now have little rage attacks where I can visualize myself beating this dog with all the anger inside of me. I now walk to my doctor's appointment every week by walking in a different direction and taking a path through the lawn of the woman living on the other side. (I got permission from the owner to do so.) It is a little off the beaten path, but atleast now, it is an option. Come snowfall, I don't know how long I will be able to trod through the wooded path and through a small ravine to get to my appointment.
So, out of the kindness of my heart, I have shown my doctor's letter for the service dog, a signed letter stating that Rowena is my service dog and anything else even though by law, I don't have to show anything. Then I am told that any owner of a dog that attacks my dog won't be fined because it only covers "certified" service dogs which I don't have to show proof of to begin with, but I did anyway. What am I going to do about this extremely frustrating incongruancy that seems to keep popping up? I am going to hunt high and low for items in the ADA and state and federal law that back up the not mandatory service dog certification. Then I am going to send it to this Cindy Dunton Animal Control officer and will send it to this Animal Welfare woman as well, perhaps providing them with the education they need regarding service animals and those individuals that use them. We all know that had it been my dog attacking the other dog that something would have been done. A civil suit would be filed. I just don't have that kind of emotional energy to fill out a civil suit and do all that footwork and deal with the extra stress involved with seeing the whole thing through from start to finish.
I get so tired of being this kind of person who can never get justice for my injustices. It is not like I am the quiet submissive type. It just feels like everyone else is somehow justified in the crimes against me. It is never them... it is somehow me. If I were killed by someone, it would probably be called a mercy killing and the person would only have to suffer through a court hearing before going free. It is always something. I am just plain worn out from what feels like a forever fight to just be.
On that pleasant note, off to bed I go with my devoted "Pookie" (Rowena)... oh yes, and my husband too.
Maine laws protecting "service" dogs & non-service dogs:
Title: 7, Section 3961-A (attack on a service dog)
Title: 7, Section 3962-A (attack on a pet)

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