LETTER: Article too ‘fluffy,’ didn’t give enough service animal details

To Ozaukee Press:

In regard to the article in the Good Living section of last week’s Ozaukee Press (“A fluffy friendly freshman”) about a service dog accompanying a student in Port Washington High School, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the laws regarding service animals, especially in Wisconsin, where our state’s law differs quite a bit from the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.    

Under Wisconsin law, in settings where members of the general public are allowed, service animal handlers can be asked by staff to show an identification card issued to them by the school from which they received their service animal.

Not only does this differ from ADA guidelines, it differs from the information given in the article, which leads the reader to believe that essentially anyone can train any dog to be a service animal.

Recently a group was established to work to bring Wisconsin law more in line with federal law, but little progress has been made.

Service animal laws differ wildly from state to state despite precedence by the ADA.

For example, the ADA states that only dogs and miniature horses can legally act as service animals, while different states allow for additional animals.

In Wisconsin, we allow for any animal except a kangaroo to act as a service animal, as long as the handler can show the training school ID when asked.

In my opinion, by not at least touching on these points you are disservicing your readers, especially those who work with or handle these animals.

People with disabilities who rely on these animals, like the girl featured in your article, are having extra difficulties brought upon them because of the confusion between service and comfort and therapy animals.

As a journalism outlet, I believe it to be your duty to help the public understand these differences instead of feeding into the dramatics surrounding them.  

A fluffy story can be informative as well as feel-good; as journalists you have an obligation to give us both.

Shay Jarm
Cedarburg

 

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494
 

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