Wednesday, February 07, 2007

!MAINE RESIDENTS HEED WARNING!

If you have a handler-trained service dog, have a psychiatric service dog or autism service dog, or if you have a NOT non-profit training facility that trains and helps handlers train service dogs in the State of Maine, this bill could affect you!
It sounds innocent enough, but it is not. Please read the following LD carefully and be prepared to write a letter to your representative as soon as possible! There will probably be a number of people going to Augusta to testify against this LD at a later point. Below you can read the LD out for yourself. The added colors, italics and use of bold lettering has been added to hopefully make this piece easier to read. The print that is in yellow is my little editorial of the last section. I am hoping that the "editorial" will help give you a (rather biased) idea of what the thing is trying to say, or what could happen if this thing passes and becomes a law. If you do not want to read that part, just skip over all of the yellow type. If you have any problems, leave me a message in the blog and I will get back to you if you leave your email address.
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"This bill enacts a definition of "service dog". It requires documentation of minimum training standards for service dogs and dogs trained to assist in law enforcement and search and rescue efforts in order to receive an exemption from licensing fees."

Legislative Document
No. 289
H.P. 233


An Act to revise the definition of "service dog"
Referred to the Committee on Business, Research and Economic Development


Presented by Representative ROBINSON of Raymond,
Cosponsored by Senator HASTINGS of Oxford, Senator COURTNEY of York, Representatives AUSTIN of Gray, BEAUDETTE of Biddeford, BEAULIEU of Auburn, FARRINGTON of Gorham, PRESCOTT of Topsham, RECTOR of Thomaston, and SAVAGE of Falmouth
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Bill Text
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An Act To Revise the Definition of Service Dog
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
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Sec. 1.7 MRSA sub.sec.- 13, as enacted by PL1987, c. 383,sub.sec. 3, is repealed.
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13. Guide dog or hearing dog kept for breeding purposes... means a male or female dog owned by a nonprofit organization for the purpose of producing puppies to be trained as guide dogs or hearing dogs and living with a resident of the State.
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---What does this mean to me? Breeding dogs are worth more to the State than my task-trained, handler trained service dog even though she has saved the State of Maine more money than conventional methods. Any dog can become a Service dog if it has the right stuff. It doesn't have to be specially bred for the purpose.
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Sec. 2.7 MRSA sub.sec. 24-A is enacted to read:
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14. Guide dog or hearing dog kept prior to training... means a dog under 18 months of age, owned by a nonprofit organization for the purpose of training as a guide dog or hearing dog and living temporarily with a resident of the State prior to training.
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---What does this mean to me? It means that I will no longer have the right to raise and train my own service dog, and that a temporary puppy raiser is more suited for the job of raising my future service dog than I am.
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Sec. 3.7 MRSA 3907, sub.sec. 24-A, is enacted to read:
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24-A. Service dog... means a dog that has been or is being trained to provide special services to its handler including a guide dog for a person who is blind or visually impaired, a hearing dog for a person who is deaf or hard-of- hearing and a personal care dog as defined in Title 17, section 1312, subsection 7.
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---What does this mean to me? It means that because I do not have a "physical" disability that I don't qualify for a service dog according to the State of Maine.
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Sec. 4.7 MRSA 3922, sub.sec. 4, as amended by PL 1995, c. 409, sub.sec. 4 is repealed and the following enacted in its place:
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4. Trained guide dogs. If a trained dog has not been previously registered or licensed by the municipal clerk to whom the application is being made, the clerk shall not register the dog nor issue to its owner or keeper a license and tag unless written evidence is provided that the dog is trained and educated and intended to perform guide dog service for the applicant.
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--- What does this mean to me? Is written evidence a doctor's script? No where do I see anything about having a prescription for a service dog here. Also it is further proof that I will not be able to raise and train my own service dog.
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4. Service Dogs. When the owner of keeper of a service dog is applying to license a dog that has not been previously licensed as a service dog, the owner or keeper must provide the documentation required under section 3923-A, subsection 3-A.
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Section 5.7 MRSA 3923-A, first as amended by PL 2003, c. 405, sub.sec. 13, is further amended to read:
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Exempt as provided in subsection 3 3-A and section 3923-C, a dog owner or keeper obtaining a license from a municipal clerk or dog recorder shall pay the license and recording fees established in this section.
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--- What does this mean to me? This just says that owners of pet dogs still have to pay the licensing fee.
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Sec. 6.7 MRSA 3923-A, sub.sec. 3, as amended by PL2001, c. 422, sec. 9 is repealed.
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3. Exemption from fees. A municipal clerk or a veterinary licensing agent shall issue a license upon application and without payment of a license fee required under this section for:
A. A trained guide dog owned or kept by a visually impaired person or such a dog awaiting training,
B. A trained hearing dog owned or kept by a hearing- impaired person or such a dog awaiting training,
C. A trained service dog owned and kept by a physically impaired person or such a dog awaiting training,
D. A trained search & rescue dog recognized by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife or by the statewide association of search and rescue that cooperates with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in developing standards for search and rescue or such a dog awaiting training, and...
E. A dog certified by the State and used for law enforcement purposes.
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---What does this mean to me? The above means that my service dog does not qualify as a recognized service dog by the State of Maine. It is saying that I must pay to get my dog licensed and that she will not be licensed as a service animal. It also means that Service dogs for disabled individuals are bunched together in Maine law with public service animals (police dogs and SAR dogs) who do not serve the disabled and are not bound by ADA law. This only happens because it is obvious that who ever created this LD was not at all familiar with the ADA and how it applies to Service animals for the disabled individual.
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Sec. 7.7 MRSA 3923-A, sub.sec. 3-A is enacted to read:
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3-A. Exemption from fees... a municipal clerk or veterinary licensing agent shall issue a license upon application and without payment of a license fee required under this section for:
A. A service dog when the dog's owner or keeper presents documentation that the dog is certified in accordance with title 26, section 1412-I or is enrolled for training as a service dog with an organization accredited under Title 26, section 1412-I;
B. A trained search and rescue dog when the dog's owner or keeper presents documentation that the dog is certified in accordance with Title 12, section 10054, subsection 4-A, and...
C. A law enforcement dog when a law enforcement officer presents documentation that the dog is certified in accordance with Title 25, section 2803-A, subsection 8-D.
After initial licensing as a service dog, documentation is not required under this subsection for license renewals unless the owner of keeper of the dog changes.
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---What does this mean to me? It means that my dog must be certified as a service animal through one of the State of Maine's special nonprofit accredited organizations in order to be licensed as a service animal. Otherwise, I must pay the fee and have her listed as a pet.
However, it also means that public service dogs (police and SAR dogs) do not have to take a yearly refresher course, which means that the dog may not keep up to the minimum standard that will be required of them. Training never stops.
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Sec. 8.7 MRSA 3961-A, last as enacted by PL 2001, c.220, sec. 2 is repealed.
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For the purposes of this section, "service dog" means a guide dog for the visually impaired, or a hearing dog trained to alert a person with impaired hearing, or a personal care dog as defined in Title 17, section 1312, subsection 7.
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Sec. 9.12 MRSA 10054, sub.sec. 4-A is enacted to read:
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4-A. Search and rescue dogs. Development of minimum training standards for dogs certified as search and rescue dogs. the bureau shall develop a certificate to be issued to the owner or keeper of a dog that successfully completes a search and rescue training program recognized by the bureau as meeting or exceeding the standards developed under this subsection. The certificate must identify the dog by breed and the owner or keeper of the dog who participated in the training.
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---What does this mean to me? I have no problem with this. I hope that they raise the standards so that these public service dogs are expected to behave in public like the service dogs for individuals with disabilities are expected to do.
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Sec. 10.17 MRSA 1011, sub.sec. 13 as enacted by PL 1987, c. 383, sec. 4 is repealed.
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13. Guide dog or hearing dog kept for breeding purposes... this means a male or a female dog owned by a nonprofit organization for the purpose of producing puppies to be trained as guide dogs or hearing dogs and living with a resident of the State.
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---What does this mean to me? I am having a problem with the fact that Maine recognizes "special" breeding dogs as being more important than my service dog that has been custom trained for my specific disabilities and needs.
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Sec. 11.17 MRSA 1011, sub.sec. 14 as enacted by PL 1987, c. 383, sec. 4 is repealed.
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14. Guide dog or hearing dog kept prior to training... means a dog under 18 months of age, owned by a nonprofit organization for the purpose of training as a guide dog or hearing dog and living temporarily with a resident of the State prior to training.
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Sec. 12.25 MRSA 2803-A, sub.sec. 8-D is enacted to read:
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8-D. Training of law enforcement dogs. to establish training standards for dogs used for law enforcement purposes, the board shall develop a certificate to be issued to the owner or keeper of a dog that successfully completes a training program recognized by the board as meeting or exceeding the standards developed under this subsection.
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---What does this mean to me? It means that I hope that this minimum standard will include the handler of this dog must trust the dog with the public it will be working for. If these dogs are not trained well or not trained on an ongoing basis, they can become too aggressive to handle. A dog that is too aggressive and cannot be trusted by its own handler should be retired and sent to Cesar Milan at the Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, California.
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Sec. 13.26 MRSA 1412-I is enacted to read:
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1412-I. Certification of service dogs.
No later than July 1, 2008, the commissioner shall adopt rules to establish minimum training standards for service dogs and an accreditation process for persons or organizations that provide training that meets or exceeds the standards developed under this section.
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---What does this mean to me? It means that I will have no choice about the training of my service dog and will not be allowed to train my own dog.
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For the purposes of this section, "service dog" has the same meaning as in Title 7, section 3907, subsection 24-A. The rules must include training standards for guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired, hearing dogs for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and personal care dogs for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing. rules adopted under this section are routine technical rules defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
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The commissioner shall develop and maintain a list of accredited trainers and furnish certificates to those trainers to be issued to the owner or keeper of a dog that successfully completes a training program. The certificate must identify the dog by breed and type of service training received and the owner or keeper whom the dog has been trained to assist or who is keeping the dog pending assignment of that dog to a person needing the dog's services.
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---What does this mean to me? My dog will need to be "certified" in order to maintain her "Service dog" status. The money they will waste on implementing this whole thing could be saved by letting individuals who are able raise and train their own service dog. Not all disabilities can fit the "cookie cutter" service dog training program. There are plenty of small training facilities who won't charge a person and arm and a leg to assist in the training of a service dog... some who will even raise and train them from puppyhood. Waiting lists for service dogs at many nonprofit facilities are very long, and won't train for all disabilities... but since the State of Maine will not be recognizing all disabilities that presently are helped by service dogs, I guess it won't matter. Prices for these dogs is way beyond the ability of a person with a disability. Training my own dog for serving me has cost far less than if I had gotten her from a facility and the bond we have from going through everything together is priceless.
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What does this Mean?
Who does this affect?
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-Disabled individuals* with non-certified service animals
-Disabled individuals* with disabilities that are not perceived as "physical" such as psychiatric service dogs and autism dogs
-Disabled individuals who have trained or are training their own service animal.
-Training facilities that are not a nonprofit organization that train service dogs and assist handlers to train their own service dog.
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Why should this bother me?
This bill will violate the rights of people with disabilities. The list of rights I am talking about is the ADA, which is a Federal act that was designed to help protect individuals with disabilities and help protect them from certain types of discrimination. It is apparent to me that the individuals that support this LD have not familiarized themselves with the ADA and its definition of "service dog" or "service animal. There are a few links down at the lower left side of this screen for you to view some information put out by the ADA and also of some of the Maine laws already in place for service animals. The ADA does not require certification or training at a special training facility. The ADA also does not say that the service animal must be a dog. Training for a disability as varied as psychiatric illnesses requires a more custom training program, not a regular "cookie- cutter" training program as with seeing-eye dogs or hearing dogs who are all trained the same list of tasks. Thus handler training with assistance or even alone is usually the best approach.
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*Also known as "PWD or people with disabilities which is the more socially acceptable way of wording it.

1 comment:

Kathy Podgers said...

Wow!! And now I wish to know if this law was adopted!!

Thanks for this...very well presented.

take care
Kathy and Shannon