Thursday, March 22, 2007

News article illustrates need for colleges to have service animal policy

Here is an interesting news article about a
Tenessee man’s experience with his service dog ,
including the challenges he encountered when attempting to go to class.

On the surface, the news article appears to be a human interest feature demonstrating the man’s adaptation to changing life situations. However, it is ultimately an illustration of the difficulties all sides face when a university does not have a service animal policy in place. The student faced hardships and barriers that should not have to be encountered in this enlightened 21st century where we have the Americans with Disabilities Act as a guide. Additionally, due to lack of foresight and proactive policies, the university looked Ill-prepared to manage a situation that had a common sense response.

Although this man trained his service dog himself, the article reports that she is registered with the
Service Animal Registry of America,
SARA, an apparently respectable and qualified resource for this type of information. The organization’s web site could serve well as a resource one might want to bookmark for future reference.

This story very clearly points out the fact that service animals are not always those used by blind people.

A few paragraphs from that story:
“With attending a public university that has no service animal policy, Michleski was met with hesitation and some disapproval from those who had never encountered a four-legged addition to a student that was not a pet. “

“Michleski explained how he was confronted by certain university officials concerning the use of Maggie and initially was escorted off of campus by safety and security until the matter could be resolved.”

“After deliberation between the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Michleski and UTM, the student was eventually allowed back on campus with a temporary policy in place exclusively for Michleski's situation. “

Again, this paints a very ugly picture of what can happen for everybody when a college isn’t prepared.

So, how about your school? Does it have a service animal policy?


Anonymous said...

If you mention SARA, you should mention their horrible customer service. I needed a rush on registration and ID for my service animal for a trip. After asking if I could get it in time and them replying yes, they never returned my numerous emails to ask if they got my paperwork, if it was going to make it in time, then two days after the date I left for my trip, they sent an email that my package was in transit to the address I'd already left. When I asked why they didn't email me or respond to my request to send it to the address I was going to so I could at least have it for the second half of my trip) or give me an option to cancel my order, they said they needed 10 business days to process any rush order (never mind transit time) so because of this policy I was out of luck on getting a refund. Problem is, the rush they offered me in the email was less than ten business days so they essentially lied and then used their standard policy to back themselves up. And by ignoring my emails they took away my ability to cancel my order, even though my very first email made it perfectly clear I was leaving on a certain date and only wanted to place the order if I could receive it by then. Terrible company, no customer service with no-name emails - do not expect a response once they get the check. There are other "registry" services that offer ID tags. I'd look to those and avoid SARA! Especially if you already have enough stress living with a disability. I wasted $70! Now on to the Better Business Bureau.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to what the original post said, SARA is not a respected organization in the service dog community and they are not qualified to certify anybody's service animal. They never see these animals and do not know anything about them. Anybody can make an ID card for their own service dog, certified or not. SARA is just another money-making scheme, as are the several other service dog registry businesses out there. It is sick.

Anonymous said...

SARA is a sham. I've sent numerous emails and made severals phone calls and never recieved a response. They cashed my check over two months ago and I've received nothing. I'm contacting the Better Business Burea as well.