Service Dog Provides Independence Plus Companionship
In early November, the Supreme Court is set to hear the case of a teen-aged girl and her service dog, Wonder, which was denied access to a school she attended several years ago. The young lady’s name is Ehlena Fry, and she was born with cerebral palsy that has significantly hindered motor skills throughout her life, while leaving her cognitive abilities unimpaired.
At the age of five, Ehlena’s family doctor recommended that she get a service dog to help her move about more freely and achieve a level of independence. Service dogs being extremely expensive however, it was necessary for family and friends to conduct fundraisers that generated the necessary $13,000 to purchase a service dog with the right skills.
After having trained for several weeks with the Goldendoodle dog they called Wonder, Ehlena was ready to attend school with her newfound friend and guide. However, the service dog was barred from entry into the school, and officials took the position that the dog was unnecessary, because the district was already paying for a qualified aide to assist Ehlena with her physical needs while on the premises. Ehlena and her parents contended that the purpose of the service dog was not to facilitate her education, but to provide her with a measure of independence, and allow her to grow more confident as an individual.
The issue is mediated
After mediators stepped in, a 30-day trial arrangement was agreed to by both sides, to see if the dog’s attendance at school could work out. From Ehlena’s perspective it worked well, because Wonder could press handicap buttons for her, retrieve dropped items, open doors, and keep her stable during transfers from chair to walker, or walker to toilet seat.
School officials however, found the trial period to be unacceptable, because several students and teachers were found to have dog allergies, and one student was even traumatized because of a previous dog attack. The result of all this was that Ehlena dropped out of school and was home-schooled for a time, after which she transferred to another school district, where she and Wonder were warmly welcomed, even to the point of including him in the class picture.
Pressing the case
Realizing that their case was bigger than Ehlena’s experience alone, the Fry family then took their case to court, assisted by the American Civil Liberties Union, so that other children in need of service dogs would not suffer the same trauma that Ehlena endured. Her old school district still maintains the position that all disabled children are guaranteed special education already, and that education plans should not be challenged in court.
Having lost the case in lower courts, the Frys are now attempting to press their cause in Supreme Court, so that others may benefit. Ehlena is now a 12-year old middle school student, and has largely achieved that level of independence she originally sought in grade school. Her service dog, Wonder has retired from his former duties, and now simply provides companionship as a family pet. Ehlena and her parents feel that the independence she has gained from her years with Wonder have helped her to bridge the gap and adjust to the next phase of her life.
The Supreme Court is expected to render a decision by the summer of 2017.
About USA Service Dog Registration
USA Service Dog Registration is an organization which provides support for service dog owners, and assists them with the formal service dog registration of their animals, so that they can be afforded the privileges necessary for safely guiding their owners through public places. Since such access is governed by local law in most cases, registration is essential for service dogs. The organization also offers items for sale which might be used in the performance of their duties, such as body harnesses, identifying patches, ID cards, key rings, and certificates.
Company Name: USA Service Dog Registration
Contact Person: Scott French
Address:1240 India St #312
City: San Diego
Country: United States