Animals have incredible innate capacities to provide healing. Any pet owner can attest to the fact that when you're not feeling well, your pets seem to have a sixth sense that you need some cuddle time. Beyond just the emotional help that animals provide, some of them are highly trained to detect minute changes in their owner's body such as perspiration, blood sugar levels and more. These animals are known as service animals and are assigned to people who have legitimate medical conditions that a service animal can help them manage (usually through providing early warnings).
These animals are not just pets, they're like a furry nurse who's on-call 24/7. That's why they are legally allowed to accompany their owners pretty much everywhere. When someone tries to deny service animals access to their human, it's a big issue, as one school in New York recently discovered.
Devyn Pereira is a 7-year-old from Rochester, New York who has Angelman syndrome - a genetic condition that manifests itself in the form of autism and aggressive epileptic seizures.
For many years now, Devyn has relied on Hannah, her service dog. Hannah helps Devyn stay focused at school and is additionally trained to detect oncoming seizures and warn her so she can get help.
To you and me this seems like a great arrangement. Unfortunately, the officials of the Gates Chili Central School District (where Devyn goes to school) decided to get in the way and make it harder for them to be together.
They made it so that Hannah has to have a full-time handler in order to accompany Devyn to school, which the family has had to pay out-of-pocket.
The family has been pushing back against this frankly unfair policy for three years. In that time, they've racked up over $25,000 in handler fees.
Thankfully, this is where the story takes a positive turn as the Pereiras got some help from a VERY powerful ally - the Department of Justice, which filed a lawsuit against the school district on the grounds that they violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.
U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. stated in a press release that "It is no longer acceptable … for a [school] district to refuse reasonable modifications to a child who seeks to handle her own service dog." He went on to say that the D.O.J. will exercise very little patience towards anyone who wishes to discriminate against people with disabilities.
If the D.O.J. wins the lawsuit, Devyn will be allowed to act as Hannah's handler (with the help of a few school staff members). The school district will additionally have to reimburse the family for any handler fees they've had to pay.
The long and strong arm of the law is not the only ally that Devyn's picked up along the way. Adults and kids alike have taken to social media with #DogForDevyn, along with the message "We will be your voice, Devyn."
On their petition page, the family wrote that their victory will not just be for Devyn and Hannah, but for all families that face similar injustices.
Via: Little Things