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Fwd: SFGate: S.F. getting its fill of 'service animals'

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  • Justin DeCastro
    Public transit is also required to give free passage to service humans -- i.e., personal attendants/assistants/chaperones -- correct? JUSTIN DeCASTRO
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 4, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      Public transit is also required to give free passage to "service humans" -- i.e., personal attendants/assistants/chaperones -- correct?

                    JUSTIN DeCASTRO
                justindecastro@...
             Live & Let Live! Love & Let Love!
      ______________

      The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2010/01/02/BAAL1BBKHD.DTL
       ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      Saturday, January 2, 2010 (SF Chronicle)
      S.F. getting its fill of 'service animals'
      C.W. Nevius


        It is not your imagination. There really are more dogs strolling through
      public spaces with their owners. Animals are going where they have never
      gone before.
        "In San Francisco, it is just so much more in your face," says Emily
      Simone, a senior field manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind. "In the '80s
      and especially in the '90s, I've just seen an explosion. We've become
      animal obsessed. The East Coast and San Francisco are particular hotbeds
      for advocacy."
        San Francisco has become a city filled with "service animals," meaning the
      owner has a permit that allows him or her to take their dog, cat, or snake
      (seriously) into restaurants, libraries, and often even rental properties
      that don't allow pets. In 2004 the city's Animal Care and Control
      Department issued 244 permits. In 2008 the number was 500, and interim
      director Rebecca Katz speculates that 2009 numbers are at least as high.
        Unfortunately, the practice of granting service animal permits so
      generously is undercutting the intent of the law. Permits that allow an
      animal full access to buses, restaurants and public places should go only
      to service animals that perform a specific task and it seems too often
      that's not happening. That needs to change.
        A good example of the problem can be seen on Haight Street. Residents
      complain that many of the street bullies have intimidating dogs, often pit
      bulls, which they take into restaurants and stores.
        "They go into a restaurant, sit down with the dog, and when the owner says
      he doesn't allow dogs, they show him a service animal tag," says Bill
      Herndon, who works for the SFPD's Vicious and Dangerous Animals Unit. "The
      police are called, they see the tag, and that's the end of the
      discussion."
        Actually, Katz says, they don't even need a permit.
        "The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't require the animal to have a
      tag," she says. Owners just need to say, "This is a service animal."
        The ADA legislation, enacted in 1990, is so vague that it has created two
      classes of service animals. The first is for animals that perform a
      specific task - Guide Dogs for the Blind, wheelchair assistance, hearing
      dogs, and animals that can detect medical emergencies, like seizures, and
      summon help.
        The problem is the second classification - emotional support animals. All
      animals - lizards, chickens and snakes - have been designated service
      animals because they lend emotional support to the owner. In most cases
      they have no task-specific training.
        "People can't believe there isn't some kind of official licensing or
      training," Herndon says. "I think the policy is misused and abused."
        Technically, there is a licensing process, but it is hardly restrictive.
      Katz says her office requires a valid license, a local address, a signed
      affidavit saying the owner needs a service animal, and a letter from a
      doctor. After that, the permit is issued with no questions asked.
        Katz says that in the case of vicious or aggressive behavior, an officer
      like Herndon can cite the owner, confiscate the dog, and even have the
      animal put down after a hearing. That's fine, but it leaves enforcement
      for after the fact. What if the dog just growls? Is that enough to lose
      the service animal designation?
        What's really needed is a change in the ADA legislation. No one is saying
      there shouldn't be an allowance for emotional support, but it should be a
      different kind of permit. It is terrific that your hamster makes you feel
      better, but you shouldn't get to take him on the bus.
        Simone says organizations like the Coalition of Assistance Dog
      Organizations have been lobbying to change the ADA to narrow the
      definition of a service animal. She thinks federal changes could come as
      soon as this summer.
        Until then, watch your fingers. That service animal on the bus may have no
      more training than a squirrel. And in this city it might be a squirrel.

      C.W. Nevius' column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail him at
      cwnevius@.... ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      Copyright 2010 SF Chronicle




      --
                    JUSTIN DeCASTRO
                justindecastro@...
             Live & Let Live! Love & Let Love!


    • Justin DeCastro
      This from Ken in San Francisco applies ONLY to San Francisco (Muni) regarding my question on Personal Care Attendants traveling with PWDs. Thanks, Ken, for
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 4, 2010
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        This from Ken in San Francisco applies ONLY to San Francisco (Muni) regarding my question on Personal Care Attendants traveling with PWDs.  

        Thanks, Ken, for clarifying the procedure and rules in San Francisco.


                      JUSTIN DeCASTRO
                  justindecastro@...
               Live & Let Live! Love & Let Love!

        _______________

        from Ken Stein <Ken.Stein@...>
        to justindecastro@...
        cc "Osborne, Jamie C" <Jamie.Osborne@...>
        date Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 3:56 PM
        subject Regarding Personal Care Assistants of SF Public Transit
        mailed-by sfgov.org
        hide details 3:56 PM (50 minutes ago)
        Dear Justin,

        Hi.   I have looked into this for SF, but because I dont know what the situation is the East Bay, I am replying just to you and not to the entire list.  

        In SF, Personal care assistants are only allowed to travel, not for free, but at the discounted disability rate, and then, only if the person with a disability has already been certified via the Regional Transit Connection (which encompasses the entire Bay Area) and has a valid RTC Card.  If the person with the disability needs to have someone traveling with them, they need to have an icon added to their RTC card that will allow the personal care assistant to travel with them at the discounted disability rate, but as I say, not for free.

        Without an RTC card, if the person does not have an obvious disability, in order to him or herself receive the discounted disability rate they would need to show a Medicare Card plus a picture ID;  or a DMV parking placard registration and a picture ID; or the disabled plate registration and valid photo ID; or the Transit Discount ID issued by another transit agency in CA and a valid photo idea.   But in this case (where the person does not have an RTC Card), the personal care assistant still has to pay full fare.

        If you have additional questions feel free to contact MUNI's ADA fixed route coordinator Jamie Osborne at 415 701-4439, Jamie.Osborne@...

        Thank you for sending me off on a most interesting informational quest.

        Wishing you all the best in the new year.

        - Ken S. 

        Kenneth Stein
        Program Administrator
        San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability
        401 Van Ness, Room 300
        San Francisco, CA 94102
        415.554.6789 
        415.554.6797 TTY
        415.554.6159 Fax
        Ken.Stein@...

        Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

        From:Justin DeCastro <justindecastro@...>
        To: queervision <queervision@...>, queerlavie@yahoogroups.comADAPT-CAL@yahoogroups.com, Berkeley-Disabled <berkeley-disabled@yahoogroups.com>
        Date: 01/04/2010 02:22 PM
        Sent by: berkeley-disabled@yahoogroups.com
        ---------- Forwarded message ----------
        From: Justin DeCastro <justindecastro@...>
        Date: Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 2:22 PM
        Subject: Fwd: SFGate: S.F. getting its fill of 'service animals'
        To: queervision <queervision@...>, queerlavie@yahoogroups.com, ADAPT-CAL@yahoogroups.com, Berkeley-Disabled <berkeley-disabled@yahoogroups.com>


        Public transit is also required to give free passage to "service humans" -- i.e., personal attendants/assistants/chaperones -- correct?

                      JUSTIN DeCASTRO
                  justindecastro@...
               Live & Let Live! Love & Let Love!
        ______________

        The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
        http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2010/01/02/BAAL1BBKHD.DTL
         ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Saturday, January 2, 2010 (SF Chronicle)
        S.F. getting its fill of 'service animals'
        C.W. Nevius


          It is not your imagination. There really are more dogs strolling through
        public spaces with their owners. Animals are going where they have never
        gone before.
          "In San Francisco, it is just so much more in your face," says Emily
        Simone, a senior field manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind. "In the '80s
        and especially in the '90s, I've just seen an explosion. We've become
        animal obsessed. The East Coast and San Francisco are particular hotbeds
        for advocacy."
          San Francisco has become a city filled with "service animals," meaning the
        owner has a permit that allows him or her to take their dog, cat, or snake
        (seriously) into restaurants, libraries, and often even rental properties
        that don't allow pets. In 2004 the city's Animal Care and Control
        Department issued 244 permits. In 2008 the number was 500, and interim
        director Rebecca Katz speculates that 2009 numbers are at least as high.
          Unfortunately, the practice of granting service animal permits so
        generously is undercutting the intent of the law. Permits that allow an
        animal full access to buses, restaurants and public places should go only
        to service animals that perform a specific task and it seems too often
        that's not happening. That needs to change.
          A good example of the problem can be seen on Haight Street. Residents
        complain that many of the street bullies have intimidating dogs, often pit
        bulls, which they take into restaurants and stores.
          "They go into a restaurant, sit down with the dog, and when the owner says
        he doesn't allow dogs, they show him a service animal tag," says Bill
        Herndon, who works for the SFPD's Vicious and Dangerous Animals Unit. "The
        police are called, they see the tag, and that's the end of the
        discussion."
          Actually, Katz says, they don't even need a permit.
          "The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't require the animal to have a
        tag," she says. Owners just need to say, "This is a service animal."
          The ADA legislation, enacted in 1990, is so vague that it has created two
        classes of service animals. The first is for animals that perform a
        specific task - Guide Dogs for the Blind, wheelchair assistance, hearing
        dogs, and animals that can detect medical emergencies, like seizures, and
        summon help.
          The problem is the second classification - emotional support animals. All
        animals - lizards, chickens and snakes - have been designated service
        animals because they lend emotional support to the owner. In most cases
        they have no task-specific training.
          "People can't believe there isn't some kind of official licensing or
        training," Herndon says. "I think the policy is misused and abused."
          Technically, there is a licensing process, but it is hardly restrictive.
        Katz says her office requires a valid license, a local address, a signed
        affidavit saying the owner needs a service animal, and a letter from a
        doctor. After that, the permit is issued with no questions asked.
          Katz says that in the case of vicious or aggressive behavior, an officer
        like Herndon can cite the owner, confiscate the dog, and even have the
        animal put down after a hearing. That's fine, but it leaves enforcement
        for after the fact. What if the dog just growls? Is that enough to lose
        the service animal designation?
          What's really needed is a change in the ADA legislation. No one is saying
        there shouldn't be an allowance for emotional support, but it should be a
        different kind of permit. It is terrific that your hamster makes you feel
        better, but you shouldn't get to take him on the bus.
          Simone says organizations like the Coalition of Assistance Dog
        Organizations have been lobbying to change the ADA to narrow the
        definition of a service animal. She thinks federal changes could come as
        soon as this summer.
          Until then, watch your fingers. That service animal on the bus may have no
        more training than a squirrel. And in this city it might be a squirrel.

        C.W. Nevius' column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail him at
        cwnevius@.... ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        Copyright 2010 SF Chronicle




        --
                      JUSTIN DeCASTRO
                  justindecastro@...
               Live & Let Live! Love & Let Love!





        --


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