Thursday, March 10, 2016

Policy Paper about untrained animals and trained service dogs

Here is an example of a policy paper (where the assignment was to write about a policy with analysis or advocacy that was appropriate for an audience of someone in government who might support or oppose a policy or might alter the way a policy was carried out):

Dear Congressman Lipinski:

I have been a resident of Illinois for 33 years.  I am a constituent in District 3, which you represent.  I have followed politics for many years and find it interesting how the local, state, and federal governments work.  It is interesting how policies are implemented but not re-enforced when people break them.  I am a blind person trying to re-enforce the laws that have been in place or have been revised to make it easier for those who have disabilities who have service animals.

I am writing to you in regards to the American with Disability Act (ADA) laws and policies that concern guide dogs and laws that are in communities such as the one I live in.  Under the ADA policy guidelines service dogs (and in my case a guide dog) are defined as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained and certified to perform these tasks.”  These dogs are trained for whatever the related circumstances may be and again, they are trained and certified to do the tasks to assist those who need their services to be as independent as possible.

Recently, many people are claiming that they need their dogs for emotional anxiety, stress, and comfort support.  These dogs are untrained in any way or certified to be in public places and under the ADA law these dogs do not qualify as a service animal.  However, they are allowed to be in public places just like the service dogs, because there is no way to police which are true service dogs and which are not.  These untrained dogs are proving to be a distraction to the trained service animals.  Currently, it is against the ADA laws for establishments to request documentation for the service animals. I believe this should be changed. Owners should be required to produce certification for their trained animals upon request. These documents do not have to have the owner’s disability marked in any way on them, but can still provide establishments proof of their training and certification. Uncertified dogs should no longer be allowed to be in public places and interfere with the jobs of trained service animals. Public establishments need to be able to enforce this, as well.

I am a concerned blind resident who has a service animal in your district and have had numerous encounters with other community residents with their dogs and in public domains regarding my service dog.  Trying to explain to these residents and store owners the laws and policies for service animals and emotional support animals are two separate entities.  Nobody wants to listen or obey the laws that have been established.  I am concerned that my guide dog will be attacked by untrained dogs or unable to perform his duties as my guide.  I am very concerned that if the laws are not re-enforced and people who bring their emotional, anxiety, comfort dogs into public areas where they are not allowed will make it very difficult for those who have certified trained dogs to access public stores, malls, transportation, work and many other facilities. That will be devastating to the handicapped community who uses these service animals to be productive in society.

In Illinois and in the district where I live these new revised laws need to be promoted and implemented throughout the community.  I have taken some measures through the village I live in, but it is not enough, because a small number of residents do not see and hear the issues and concerns of what can happen to service animals that have been subjected to distress from other animals.  My concern is that it will take a tragic incident that could have been avoided to make a difference or change.

I would like to work with you on promoting and implementing new laws for the whole community on service animals in order to help protect everyone involved.  There may be some upset people, but this needs to be addressed and ratified for those who really need certified service animals to be a productive part of society.

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