A painful note on the tale of Brooklyn and J-Bear. As of 9/2015 their partnership was ended in a cruel decision by 4 Paws for Ability. See timeline below. We will always ask openly WHERE IS BROOKLYN since the truth of what happened is being continually obscured.
- Breed: Golden Retriever
- Birthday: 11/21/2014
- Gender: Female (spayed)
- Job: Autism Service Dog
- Likes: balls, treats, playing with her boy, running and cuddling
- Dislikes: putting on her gentle leader, being told not to eat things that aren’t food (mulch, cigarette butts, ugh)
The entire ADA law pertaining to service animals may be read here: http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm
When you encounter a service animal in public and have questions as to the validity of that service animal’s presence you may only ask 2 questions:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
It is never correct to ask someone what their disability is. It is also never correct to exclude a service dog’s presence due to fears or allergies. When there is a situation that fears or allergies may be an issue, both parties – the person affected and the person handling the service dog – must have appropriate accommodations made. Example: In a restaurant, the parties can be seated far apart in appropriate and fair seating. Neither party can be put in a situation where they are treated less than, like the service dog and party being placed in a cramped corner away from other patrons.
The only times that a service dog may be excluded from a location are:
- The dog is not being controlled by the handler
- The dog proves to not be housebroken
- The environment is a sterile field (operating room)
- The building is a federal building
If you have any questions about ADA law and the rights of service dog handlers you may call the ADA:
800-514-0301 (Voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY)
M-W, F 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Th 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time)
The Timeline of Our Involved with 4 Paws for Ability
- April 2013 – Begin fundraising $13,000 for 4 Paws for Ability to secure an Autism Service dog for J-Bear.
- October 2013 – Complete fundraising and are placed in the October 2014 class.
- October 2014 – Find out J has been paired with Brooklyn, a striking English Cream golden retriever. Travel to Ohio and train with her for 2 weeks then return to Boston to start our new lives with her.
- Accidents occur during training. Considered “handler error”. Anxieties manifest early, such as fears of little girls, shopping carts and balloons. We work her through these fears with the techniques taught by the training staff.
- March 2015 – Several accidents have occurred in public. Training staff is contacted and kept informed and new techniques are tried to resolve the issue. Symptoms begin to be clearly seen of a problem eliminating. It is determined she has a serious bladder infection, treatment begins.
- April – May 2015 – The bladder infection remains stubbornly constant and continues to be treated. She is given a special diet but in early May has a sudden decline in her health. Vomiting and lethargy prompt us to bring her immediately to her vet who diagnoses another infection but no clear reason why she’s so lethargic. He refers us to a vet hospital nearby where she is soon diagnosed with having leptospirosis as well. Dogs are vaccinated against nearly all strains of this illness, we drew the unlucky card.
- June 2015 – Brooklyn is becoming a healthier, happier girl thanks to excellent medical care. Her energy returns but accidents return as well. It is decided to return her to her trainers in hopes of resolving the accidents once and for all.
- July 2015 – Brooklyn is shaved by a prisoner. It is currently unclear whether this was an accident or something the prisoner was told to do. Around this time I am accused of “bad mouthing” 4 Paws for Ability and only allowed to contact Karen Shirk for information pertaining to Brooklyn. I am treated like I have harassed staff when my requests for updates have been quite reasonable – no more than once a week if that.
- August 2015 – Brooklyn is moved among a couple of different foster families and updates are limited. Anxieties eliminating are noted towards the end of the month and veiled comments about us as her family creating them are made.
- September 2015 – I reach out to the head trainer at 4 Paws for Ability and discover that he seems to have no clue that we are being told by Karen Shirk that Brooklyn might be removed from us. He is apologetic. I contact Karen again about this, I am told there is no failure in communication despite the obvious one that occurred between she and the head trainer. Within a couple of days Brooklyn is taken from us. Somewhere in this mess Brooklyn’s name is changed to Belle.
- October 2015 – Brooklyn is placed with another family as a service dog for another child. She is sent to Mexico under a strange veil of secrecy. 4 Paws claims the family is very private, their very public social media negates this claim. We have no idea if any of Brooklyn/Belle’s history is given to this new family. The only reason we found out is by recognizing her in a photograph posted online and having it confirmed by people attending the graduation.
- November 2015 – We find another agency and our relationship is fully ended with 4 Paws for Ability completely. 4 Paws for Ability keeps $5,000 of the $13,000 fundraised in J’s name. The director of 4 Paws seeks to vilify us to all current clients. We move on working with the new agency.
If you are a family considering a service dog for your child I strongly advise considering many other agencies out there. Until the leadership at 4 Paws for Ability changes it is not an organization that does business in an upstanding and honest manner. It is run with fear and we families have enough to deal with without that.