Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sounds Reasonable to Me

I'm sometimes amazed at how much people get caught up in the minutae of things. One would think a service dog (and there are multiple types of service dogs) would be allowed nearly anywhere, especially in a facility that serves veterans. Well, hopefully NOW that will be the case. Who knew we needed a new law to state that?

Bill approved to make VA service-dog friendly

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Sep 12, 2011 16:55:07 EDT
The House of Representatives could vote as early as next week on sweeping legislation that makes the Veterans Affairs Department more dog-friendly.
A House committee has approved legislation that would allow service dogs to be used on any VA property or in any VA facility, including any facility or property receiving VA funding.
“I’m really pleased this legislation is moving, just for the sheer fact we have been trying to do this for so long,” said Christina Roof, deputy national legislative director for the veterans’ service organization AmVets. “VA could have done this itself, by regulation, a long time ago if they wanted, but they haven’t done anything so it looks like Congress will.”
Under current law and regulation, VA is required only to allow guide dogs for the blind onto its property and into facilities because those are the only type of assistance animals specifically covered in federal law. Individual facilities directors can be more flexible, if they wish.
VA officials have been working since March on trying to come up with a new service dog policy but discussions have been bogged down, in part, over the question of whether the policy should specifically list the types of service dogs that should be allowed or to leave that open to interpretation.
Language included in HR 2074, a veterans’ health care bill passed Sept. 28 by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, would end the discussion. The provision is very direct, saying the VA secretary “may not prohibit the use of service dogs in any facility or on any property.” The bill makes no effort to define what constitutes a service dog.
Roof said she expects common sense would be used, with eligible dogs having received some specialized training in order to be considered a service dog and with facilities still able to have restrictions on where dogs could go on the premises. For example, a service dog would not be allowed into an operating room but might be allowed in the waiting room of a medical clinic, she said.
In addition to opening the buildings and grounds to service dogs, the bill would create a three-year pilot program in which veterans with post-traumatic stress or other post-deployment mental disorders would be involved in training service dogs for other veterans. The idea of the test is to see if being a dog trainer has any rehabilitation benefits for veterans.
Veterans who have service dogs would have priority in being hired as trainers under the pilot program.

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