Harness Up Fall-Winter 2004



A publication of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU)

A Division of the National Federation of the Blind, (NFB)

Priscilla Ferris President

James Moynihan Editor




Table of Contents




1. Where I Stand By James Moynihan, Editor 2. From the President's Desk By Priscilla Ferris 3. Additional Comments from the President By Priscilla Ferris 4. Forward! By Marion Gwizdala 5. SAFER DAYS AHEAD FOR DOG GUIDES IN MASSACHUSETTS??? By Al Evans 6. UKC Controversy 7. Guide Dog Users Await In-Cabin Air Routes to UK By Peter Donahue 8. Knowledge is Power By Chastity Jackson 9. Close Call in Hawaii 10. NAGDU List Subscription Information by Peter Donahue 11. NOT ALL HEROES ARE PEOPLE by Al Evans 12. HA! HA! HA! by Bill Braese 13. Division Officers


1. Where I Stand

By James Moynihan, Editor



There are important considerations that matter to me, to members of the guide dog division, and to members of the National Federation of the Blind. Let me deal with these considerations one at a time.




Personal Choice:

Since 1976 I have used a guide dog as my primary mode of travel. In January of this year I obtained Murdock from Seeing Eye. He is a golden/Labrador cross and is my fourth guide dog.




I received my first guide dog from Guiding Eyes in 1976 when I was 32 years old; for the previous sixteen years I traveled with a cane. There are times when I choose to travel with a cane and I leave my dog at home.




As far as I am concerned a guide dog is a better way to travel. The dog allows me to travel at a much faster pace than using a cane. I can take a walk using my guide dog as opposed to using a cane which simply allows me to travel from point A to point B.




Using a guide dog has several disadvantages. The dog is fed twice each day and taken out for relief four times per day. Dogs need to be groomed and taken to the vet when they become ill. Ultimately the time comes when you must retire the dog and it is time to go back to school to replace him.




However, the dog gives me a wonderful bonus. Since I was a kid I always wanted to have a dog and have always loved dogs. I could be sitting in a room full of people and when a dog comes in to the room he will come over to me to be petted. I love dogs of all ages, sizes and temperaments. Using a guide dog allows me to take my dog any place I want to go and at any time.




It is my choice to use a guide dog. I do not advocate that all blind people use guide dogs. When asked I will tell people why I use a guide dog but I will discuss the pros and cons of using a dog.




The Big Tent:

I am a guide dog user and belong to NAGDU which is the guide dog division of the National Federation of the Blind. NAGDU meets yearly at our national conventions to deal with the concerns of our guide dog users. NAGDU contributes to and belongs to the National Federation of the Blind which is the largest and most powerful organization of blind consumers throughout the nation.




Most blind persons and most NFB members prefer to use a cane as their mode of travel. I have heard and read the statistic that approximately 2 to 3 percent of blind persons travel with a guide dog and the rest use canes. This is their choice and it is not our mission or goal to get them to change their minds.




To my knowledge Dr. Maurer, Peggy Elliott and Jim Omvig have never used a guide dog. My belief is that they probably will never get the urge to go to a school to obtain a guide dog. This is their choice.




Using a guide dog and belonging to NAGDU is important to me but there are other important reasons for belonging and contributing to NFB. THE NFB has accomplished wonderful and exciting things especially in the past few years. Now I am able to read USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post by using Newsline. Recently I met a young lady who moved from Texas to Kansas City Missouri: she obtained a position as a rehabilitation counselor through Jobline which is operated by the National Federation of the Blind. Isn't this wonderful? There is the promise in the near future of being able to go to a restaurant and read the menu independently It makes me hungry just thinking about it.




Every month I contribute to PAC. My name is on the Wall of Honor for contributing to the Capital Campaign. My money and the money of other NAGDU members contributes to the goals of NFB. Whether we use a dog or a cane our money contributes toward the advancement of the goals of the NFB. Thus the money of guide dog users as well as the money of cane users advances the goals of the Capital Campaign and the Imagination Fund.




Iowa Resolution:

Recently controversy erupted regarding the use of guide dogs at our national centers. Our centers teach a number of vital skills such as Braille, computer technology, and the use of the long white cane. The student becomes immersed in the skills being taught through constant repetition.




On Saturday, January 3, 2004 I arrived at Seeing Eye. The class of 23 students learned how to get around the school using their canes. Familiarizing ourselves with the school would make it possible to give our dogs the appropriate commands when we became partners.




On Monday January 5th we received our guide dogs.




From this time until the departure date on January 22nd the dogs were with us 24/7. We learned to feed our dogs, take them out for relief, pick up after our dogs, groom them, brush their teeth, clean their ears, and administer tablets and liquid medications to them.




Of course we learned to travel the streets and take buses and subways. None of us asked to break this routine to take walks with our canes. We all understood that the purpose of our stay at the Seeing Eye was to learn to ?bond with our dogs? and handle them effectively.




Guess what? The program works. This immersion program is repeated ten months each year resulting in the production of over 220 units comprising a team composed of a dog and its master or mistress. This outcome is replicated month after month and year after year at the Seeing Eye and other guide dog schools throughout the country.




This same success is also duplicated month after month and year after year at our national centers in Colorado, Louisiana, and Minnesota.




Again we are talking about choices. It is not easy to take 22 days out of your life to go to Seeing Eye or any reputable guide dog school to get a dog. Neither is it easy or convenient to go for months to our national centers to attend their programs.




However, the results are worth it. Traveling confidently and independently with a guide dog is well worth the time and effort. Coming back home to work at productive employment and participating in your community, as a valued citizen is a wonderful achievement.




Some of us use canes and others travel with dogs. We have all made the choices which are right for us. We are all brothers and sisters under the big tent of the National Federation of the Blind.




Let us all work with each other and help each other in our march to equality. Dr. Maurer and Peggy Elliott will continue to use their canes and Priscilla Ferris and Diane McGeorge will use their guide dogs and it really doesn't matter. We are all working to change what it means to be blind.




2. From the President's Desk

By Priscilla Ferris



The division of the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) thanks you for electing the new board. We are Priscilla Ferris, President, Marian Gwzdala, Vice-President, Melissa Riccobono, Secretary, and Bob Eschbach is the new treasurer. Jim Moynihan will be taking over as the editor of the newsletter, ?Harness Up.? We will be putting addresses and email addresses at the end of this newsletter.




If you were fortunate enough to attend our national convention in Atlanta, Georgia this last summer it was, as usual, one filled with much new information about many things. I would like to take a few minutes to talk to you, Guide Dog users, about a problem that never ceases to amaze me each year, no matter how much work is done to make it user friendly to you, your dog and the general public.




The subject is the relief areas. This past year was my twenty-sixth national convention. I remember when the areas for relieving our dogs were very sparse. Many of us went and found places for ourselves and made sure that we were thoughtful to always pick up after our dogs.




Some years we have made deals with the hotels to have folks come in and take care of the areas for us, for which the national office paid the hotel. But we all know that this did not work very well. As the week went on the persons responsible for taking care of this task were nowhere to be found and we, the NFB, had to take care of it. I am certain that those of you who attended know what I am speaking about.




Then, not knowing the cost, NAGDU tried to get each guide dog user to put in some money to help defray the cost. This, as most of us remember, did not work out either. As past treasurer, I know that it did not. The complaints were many and loud. It seems to me that members of an organization such as the National Federation of the Blind, which has always promoted equality for the blind, should understand such equality is not a given. We have to work for it day after day.




Five or six years ago some federationists volunteered to take over the manning of the relief areas for our dogs. Our national office accepted the challenge and we know that it has worked. For the past six years we have been fortunate to have people who have taken time to help us keep the areas clean.




But, as we all know, there is nothing that comes without cost. I have spoken to our national office and I am going to give you some figures that will, I am certain, surprise you.




The recipe for the running of the relief areas has been the same except that each year costs rise as does the costs of everything we do. Four people were hired to take care of the relief areas for the eight days of the last national convention. Their airfares, room and board were taken care of by the National Federation of the Blind. The material used for the relief areas; i.e. plastic sheeting, sawdust, wood shavings, rental of a van to pick up these supplies several times during the week and paying hotel staff to help carry these items and to help do various tasks to be certain that the relief areas stay clean are also added expenses. The total cost for this convenience came to roughly ten thousand dollars!




Instead of saying thank you to the people who give up their time to man these areas for our convenience, some have complained. It never ceases to amaze me that many complain but would never try to help by picking up and putting trash where it belongs- in the trash barrel, not left for someone else to pick up or worse, step in.




We have always tried to work with the various hotels that we stay at. I do not think that too many of us know what goes on when dealing with various hotels. I will explain situations with you. For information sake, no hotel has ever said that dog users were to be put on the same floor. If some are on the same floor it is by chance. We have been told by the hotel management that after we leave a hotel, the rooms that have been occupied with a guide dog have to be specially cleaned. The equipment that is used is special and must be hired by the hotel. This year it cost the Marriot six thousand dollars to perform this task and the NFB split the cost with the hotel management. So add another three thousand dollars to the service provided to us for those of us who are guide dog users.




We have been very fortunate to have a committee who has acquired for us good hotels and good rates. We have always been treated well in spite of the special services we require. If you give respect, you will most surely receive it.




So much has been said in the past about dogs versus white cane usage. Remember these are choices that we as blind people make. With choices come consequences, as does everything in life. Please, I ask you, to try and solve our problems and not be the problem itself. We cannot ask much more of our national office but we can accept a great deal more responsibility for ourselves as guide dog users.




Looking forward to having a great convention in Louisville, Kentucky.




3. Additional Comments from the President

By Priscilla Ferris



If you had the opportunity to attend the national convention you will remember that there was a great deal that happened. The members of the new board will give their all to keep the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) the strong division that it has always been.




We are going to try to make the newsletter, ?Harness Up,? an informational newsletter. We want you to contribute items that would be of interest to Guide Dog users everywhere. If you do not send us your articles then the board and editor will have to step up to the task of doing the best that we can.




We are trying to update our reader list. We are hoping to turn over the treasury to our treasurer, Bob Eschbach. If you have not paid your dues for 2004 to 2005, we will remove your name from our list. We have sent out notices to all on our mailing list and many have updated their status. We thank you for this.




As for our upcoming national convention and our NAGDU meetings, we ask that you let us know what you might care to have presented on the program. Please write to our address, which is:
140 Wood Street
Somerset, MA 02726

or email us at:


nfbmass@earthlink.net


Your input would be very much welcomed.




This has been an informational President's message, but I feel that these are necessary at times. Please enjoy this edition of Harness Up and remember that we are all dog users and want to have the best help and information to assist us to be the best we can and help however we are able.




4. Forward!

By Marion Gwizdala



At the 2004 meeting of the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) the membership elected an entire new slate of officers and chose me to serve as Vice President of this great Organization. It is both an honor and privilege to be asked to serve in this capacity. The command we give our dogs to work is ?Forward!? and this, I believe, is the command you have given us, along with all its implications. You have elected us to work and guide this Division and, just like our relationships with our canine guides, we need to work cooperatively as a team. The elected officers are charged with leading this Movement and in order to make progress we need for you to join us as we move forward!




In order to accomplish our goals, we need strong leadership and a powerful presence throughout the country to effect change and advocate for each other. Several States already have Guide Dog users divisions and we need to organize more. Such Divisions are important so that strong legislation may be passed and current legislation effectively enforced. Furthermore, these divisions help facilitate the flow of communication throughout the Movement, keeping everyone better informed while creating a network of support among the blind. We have a great deal of talent within our ranks. Through such a network we can share our resources, enhance our effectiveness, and improve our outcomes.




The philosophy of the national Federation of the Blind states that the real problem of blindness is the misunderstanding and lack of information that exists. This is not only true of blindness, in general, but of guide dog users, in particular. The public is under the misconception that a guide dog will solve the mobility problems of the blind person. The role of the dog in the working team is immensely over-exaggerated. This myth is promulgated by many of the guide dog schools in an effort to raise funds. In doing so, these schools undermine the purpose and goal of the NFB by erecting and reinforcing the barriers we face as blind citizens. Some schools present a very custodial attitude toward the blind, failing to recognize that we are consumers of their services and all this term implies. Unless we are seen as stakeholders, we will continue to be relegated to the role of beneficiaries who have no input into the quality of service they provide or the image of blindness they present.




In our effort to educate the public about the competencies of the blind, it is in our best interest to enlist the support of guide dog schools as partners in the guide dog movement. As blind consumers, we must help the schools understand our goals are complementary as we strive for first-class status within our communities. Schools that depict blind people as helpless and dependent without their dogs need to be educated about the negative impact of such depictions in our struggle for equality.




In order to do this, we need to maintain a strong, cooperative relationship with the guide dog schools. Their continued presence at our national and State Conventions is one avenue through which such a relationship can be nurtured. Another avenue is through our involvement on their graduate advisory councils and by appointments to their Boards of directors. It is easier to effect changes from within than to do so from the outside. If you are a member who sits on one of these bodies for your school, please let us know so we can keep our fingers on the pulse of the school and offer you support.




Recently there have been several attacks on our guide dogs by animals that have not been properly restrained. Several of those attacks have occurred in Florida where we recently passed a Service Animal Protection Act. In spite of this statute, law enforcement has failed to enforce this act and, in those cases where they have, State's Attorneys have refused to file charges.




One initiative I would like to implement is a model Service Animal Protection Act, much like our model Braille Bill of the early '90s. We have quite a few legal professionals in our ranks who could help write such legislation so that effective, enforceable legislation can be introduced to protect the investment and compensate us for our loss. Such legislation would include criminal penalties and restitution of lost wages, medical and veterinarian expenses, and reimbursement for retraining or replacement of our guides.




In spite of more than sixty years of State legislation protecting the rights of full and equal access with our guide dogs and more than fourteen years of Federal provisions prohibiting discrimination through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), access issues are still being reported. Of course, I believe that the best way to resolve such access issues is through education of the management of the entity when the discrimination occurs, since the best resolution is the immediate provision of such access. However, when such discrimination cannot be resolved, stronger action is required.




As advocates, it is our role to assist those who face such discrimination. Again, this is where a strong, active State Association of Guide Dog Users is essential. Through local involvement we can support others in the filing of charges, guide them through the judicial process, encourage prosecutors to bring cases to Court, have a presence at hearings, and encourage stricter penalties to those who break the law. As this process unfolds, I feel it is important to enlist the media, as they are our strongest allies in the education of the public. When one person faces the consequences of their actions, it is highly unlikely that person will commit the offense again. When others learn of these consequences, they will want to avoid them and our goal of full participation in society on terms of equality will take a giant step forward!




If you are reading this, you have the potential to make a difference in the lives of the blind and those who choose to use guide dogs as a mobility tool. If there is an Association of Guide Dog Users in your State, it is imperative you are a member. If there is not, take the initiative to help organize one. In either case, you will not be alone; the Board is here to serve you. The Federation is a movement ? a dynamic group of dedicated blind men and women actively working to change what it means to be blind. We need you and together will create a movement forward!




5. SAFER DAYS AHEAD FOR DOG GUIDES IN MASSACHUSETTS

By Al Evans



In may of 2004, Governor Romney signed into law the following measure, which was introduced by and shepherded every step of the way by the NFB of Massachusetts:




"An act relative to damages for harmed assistance animals."



"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:




Chapter 272 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 85A the following section; 85B:




a. A physically impaired person who uses an assistance animal, or the owner of the assistance animal, may bring an action of economic or noneconomic damages against a person who steals or attacks the assistance animal.? The action authorized by this subsection may be brought by the physically impaired person or owner not withstanding that the assistance animal was in custody or under the supervision of another person when the theft or attack occurred.? If any non-assistance animal should attack an assistance animal, the owner of the assistance animal may seek compensation from the owner, or custodian, of the non-assistance animal found to have caused harm to the assistance animal.?




b. If the theft or attack of an assistance animal, as described in subsection a., results in the death of the animal, or the animal is not returned; or, if injuries sustained prevent the assistance animal from returning to service, the measure of economic damages shall include, but are not limited to, the veterinary medical expenses, and the replacement cost of an equally trained animal without any differentiation for the age or the experience of the animal.




c. A cause of action shall not arise under this section, if the physically impaired individual, owner, or the individual having custody or supervision of the assistance animal was engaged in a crime at the time of injury sustained by the assistance animal.




Comment:

In Massachusetts, as happens throughout this country, many too many individuals acquire dogs for pets, then neglect them.? They allow these dogs to run loose along public streets, through recreation areas, parks, etc.? All too often these "pets" are undisciplined, unrestrained, dangerous dogs, such as pit bull terriers, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and, yes, German Shepherds.




How many ordinary people, blind or sighted, are able to protect themselves from the attack of a 120-pound Rottweiler, or even a 60-pound pit bull, or Doberman, or German Shepherd??




How many everyday citizens believe they could merely shake off the jaws of such an animal, if they realized that each of these dogs can exert at least 700 pounds of pressure per cubic inch, or more, when they bite?




Since we who use the services of a dog guide require some legal recourse, if we, or our guides are attacked, the Mass. Association of Guide Dog Users, saw the necessity of introducing, then fighting for enactment of the legislation found above.? Nothing will replace the responsibility that should accompany the acquisition of a pet dog, regardless of its breed or size; therefore, we have done the next best thing, enact a law that has the sort of "teeth", which may bite where it hurts almost as much, in the pocketbook.




6. UKC Controversy




Note:

It came to our attention that the United Kennel Club (UKC) was planning to use the term ?service dogs? to include dogs trained for protection such as dogs trained for police and military service, as well as dogs trained for personal protection. We, as guide dog users are concerned about such classification that may cause confusion with dogs trained for assistance. The following letter outlines where the NAGDU stands on this issue.




Mr. Wayne R. Cavanaugh


President, United Kennel Club


100 East Kilgore Rd.

Kalamazoo, MI? 49002




Dear Mr. Cavanaugh:




The National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) is a division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the largest and oldest organization of blind consumers in the United States.? We who use the guide dog formed NAGDU to support, enhance where possible, the mission of the guide dog.? This mission began in America more than 75 years ago, when a feisty Tennesseean, Morris Frank, brought Buddy home from Switzerland and proved that a well trained, intelligent, gentle dog could successfully and safely guide a blind person virtually anywhere.




Throughout the years, the image of the guide dog has been established as a competent, non-threatening animal, with one goal, one objective, that of guiding its blind owner.? However, it was soon recognized that dogs can be trained to alert deaf people, as well as to indicate an onset of symptoms leading to seizures, cardiac trouble, etc.? The scope of utilizing dogs broadened, and involved many medical needs.? For example, dogs are now used to pull wheelchairs; to aid people who need stability while walking; and, even to salve the human temperament due to the calming effect they may have on the emotionally troubled, or patients in hospitals or nursing homes, e.g., therapy dogs.




Based upon these demands, inevitably the term "service dog" has evolved to provide a handy, recognizable catch-all description blanketing the use of dogs for these sundry purposes.




On the other hand, nowhere does the term service dog apply to pets, nor should it.? Dogs trained for guard work; for protection; and for safeguarding the estates of feudal lords in years past, are an age-old story.? Shepherd dogs were trained and deployed to protect livestock.? The Rottweiler and the Akita were used to hunt bear, boar, and other large game in their respective lands.? The term "K-9" originated when German Shepherds and other large breeds were pressed into military service in wartime.? As well, the French trained several large breeds to carry ammunition, messages, and for attack in combat situations.? The term "service dog" did not arise until their potential for benevolent application was explored and practiced.




Therefore, a clear distinction can be drawn between pets trained for protection and guard work, and service dogs intended to aid individuals with day-to-day life functions, including guide dogs providing independent mobility for the blind.




Perhaps, the following excerpt from federal ADA regulations provides the unequivocal distinction between a service dog and that which the United Kennel Club intends for its dogs:




"U. S. Department of Justice


Civil Rights Division


Disability Rights Section


Americans with Disabilities Act


ADA Business Brief:


Service Animals:




Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, such as, guiding people who are blind; alerting people who are deaf; pulling wheelchairs; alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks.




Service animals are working animals, not pets"




As stated at the outset, the members of NAGDU are deeply concerned about the planned use the term, "service dog" as the United Kennel Club of Kalamazoo, Michigan, seemingly intends to apply this phrase.? The guide dog is a specifically trained dog, trained for a specific mission; in no way does any program known to NAGDU teach guide dogs to guard, to protect, to attack anyone, anywhere, at any time.




Therefore, inasmuch as blind dog guide users patently object to so much as the possibility of confusion between the purpose of our dogs with the objectives of the United Kennel Club, we call upon the United Kennel Club to adopt another name, which it may deem suitable for classifying the intent for which its dogs are trained.? If there is no identifiable legal encumbrance to such a phrase, we offer the term "security dog" as the definition of security would seem to be the idea that your business would appear to indicate.




In any event, the history, reputation, and mission of the guide dog has achieved a time-honored record of respect which the vast majority of blind people across this nation will strive to preserve and defend.? Our fervent hope is that an amicable, mutually acceptable resolution may be reached.




Respectfully yours,





Priscilla A. Ferris, President

National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NFB)




7. Guide Dog Users Await In-Cabin Air Routes to UK

By Peter Donahue



The spring 2004 Issue of Harness Up contained an extensive article on efforts to permit guide dogs to fly in the airplane cabin with their owners when traveling to the United Kingdom, (UK.) Currently guide dogs being flown directly to the UK from long haul countries including the United States must travel as manifest cargo. In April of this year the British Government, more specifically the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA) amended Britain?s Rabies Legislation to make it legal for guide dogs to accompany their blind owners in the airplane cabin, and to enter the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme, (PETS), via qualified PETS countries other than their country of origin. At the time of our national convention it was hoped that air routes from the US to England would be approved shortly following the implementation of these new amendments. Sadly this has not happened. There are several reasons why guide dog users wanting to fly directly to the UK from the U.S. must still transport their guide dog in cargo, or enter via a European PETS air route approved for the in-cabin transportation of guide dogs to avoid having to be separated from their dogs for such flights. Recent behavior and excuses put fourth by some airlines, including some U.S. carriers, have guide dog users very disappointed! Our battles with airlines and their treatment of blind passengers, including those who use guide dogs may not be over yet. They may need a reminder that the NFB hasn?t gone away, and that we will stand fourth to fight discrimination against the blind regardless of its form. There are also positive developments to report on this same front. The battle is not yet won, but slowly the times they are a changing.




A Look Back:

In the current struggle to establish air routes for those wishing to visit the British Aisles with their guide dogs it's not a bad idea to take a nostalgic look back to a time when we here in the United States began the battle to open up airplane cabins to guide dogs and their owners. American guide dog users can boast of a proud tradition predating World War II. The first instance of a guide dog team flying together in an airplane?s cabin occurred in 1938; during the heart of The Great Depression. The dog's name was Buddy, and his master was none other than Morris Frank. Anyone familiar with the history of the guide dog movement, and The Seeing Eye knows well the story of Morris and Buddy. Together they paved the way for guide dog users to enter public establishments and on all modes of public transportation, including commercial airlines, accompanied by their dogs. In his book, ?First Lady of The Seeing Eye?, Morris Frank describes his desire to fly on a commercial airliner with Buddy, (Who by now was old and severely debilitated), at his feet in the airplane cabin in this way:




I would like to be able to say that she had made it possible for all guide dogs following her to travel by land and sea and air to lead their blind charges Wherever in this wide, wide country they cared or needed to go. Mrs. Valentine listened silently to my every word. When I had finished, she excused herself for a moment, then returned with, "Will you two come into my son Lester's office?"




We followed her in to find the young executive on the phone. He was talking to the top man at United Airlines. This is what we heard him saying: "I'm sorry, Pat. It just has to be. Mother says she'll never let me inside her house again until it's arranged.?




So Buddy and I left for Morristown, the last ride that this gallant personality ever made, not by begging for special permission but by buying a ticket and going on our way like blessedly ordinary passengers. Before she laid down her life, she had completed her job.




United Airlines tipped off the newspapers and wire services that a Seeing Eye dog was taking its first official regular trip by air. When we came down for a stop at Cleveland, reporters and photographers met the plane and asked for pictures. Buddy did not reveal her illness going down the ramp, because she leaned forward in the harness and I held her up. I did not want it known that she was reaching the end of the road. When the time came to return to our seats, I held back, waiting for the pressmen to leave, because I knew Buddy could not make her way under her own power up that steep gangplank. I would have to carry her and I did not want to hurt her sense of dignity. I stalled as long as I could, then finally one of the photographers said, "I'd like a shot of her leading you back to the cabin, if you don't mind.? I was licked. I had to confess that Buddy was old and ill and would have to have help getting up the ramp. Immediately several newsmen stepped forward and gently helped me carry her aboard.




Since that time in-cabin air travel of guide dog teams within the United States, and too many foreign countries other than the UK have become quite routine. Like Morris we need not get special permission to bring our dogs on board with us, we purchase our tickets, and go on our merry way. The right to do so has been further protected with passage of legislation in each state modeled on the NFB's Model White Cane Law, which, among other things protects a blind person's right to enter public establishments, and utilize all forms of public transportation including airlines accompanied by a guide dog. The Americans With Disabilities Act, (ADA), and the Air Carrier Access Act now protect these rights at the Federal Level. Only the Air Carrier Access Act covers commercial airlines. The United States is the only country I know of that has specific legislation protecting the rights of blind and disabled air passengers. Quarantine legislation of certain countries such as Australia, and New Zealand specifically grant guide dog users the right to be accompanied by their guide dogs in the airplane cabin regardless of the flight duration. Such legislation does not yet exist in the UK. Is it no surprise that UK guide dog users, and those wishing to fly to the UK with their dogs in the cabin find themselves fighting the same battles Morris and Buddy fought in the early 20th Century, and which members of the Organized Blind Movement continue to this day. History does indeed repeat itself.




The Resolution:

Air travel to Britain with guide dogs was the subject of NFB resolution 2004-13, introduced by the National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU.) In this resolution we commend the British Parliament for changing its rabies law to permit the transportation of guide dog teams to England in the passenger cabin. We also call upon major airlines operating routes to England from the United States to comply with this new legislation so that blind people can travel with their guide dogs in the passenger cabin. The text of this resolution reads as follows:




RESOLUTION 2004-13




Regarding Air Travel to Britain with Guide Dogs




WHEREAS, on February 28, 2000, the United Kingdom launched the Pet Travel Scheme, a program that permits pets, including guide dogs from certain countries and territories, to enter the United Kingdom without undergoing a six-month quarantine, a requirement in place since 1901; and




WHEREAS, under the Pet Travel Scheme all cats and dogs, including guide dogs, entering the United Kingdom from long-haul countries such as the United States were required to fly directly to the United Kingdom from their country of origin and could be transported only in a sealed container in the cargo hold of the plane, thereby damaging the relationship of some teams and resulting in the injury and deaths of some guide dogs; and




WHEREAS, new amendments to the United Kingdom's Rabies Legislation that took effect on April 13, 2004, removed the requirement that all dogs and cats from long-haul countries be transported as manifest cargo in sealed containers, making it legal for airlines to permit guide dogs to accompany their blind owners in the passenger cabin and allowing the animals to enter the United Kingdom via qualifying Pet-Travel-Scheme countries other than their country of origin; and




WHEREAS, airlines wishing to transport guide dogs with their owners in the passenger cabin of the plane to the United Kingdom must establish a contract with the British Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to secure a permit to do so, but to date no U.S. or the United Kingdom carrier operating passenger service from the U.S. to the United Kingdom has begun transporting guide dog teams together in the passenger cabin: Now, therefore,




BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization commend the British Parliament for amending the United Kingdom's Rabies Legislation and the Pet Travel Scheme to permit the legal transportation of guide dog teams to the United Kingdom in the passenger cabin; and




BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon all major airlines operating routes to the United Kingdom from the United States to secure contracts from the British Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to permit transportation of guide dogs with their owners in their airplane cabins.




This resolution was unanimously adopted during the annual business meeting at the NFB'S 2004 National Convention in Atlanta Georgia. Not one person opposed the resolution. It was a pleasure to conduct the research and draft this resolution for NAGDU. It is only fitting that the oldest, and largest organization of blind consumers in the U.S. should join this effort, and to seek a final victory in this struggle as we have done in the past where the rights of blind air passengers are concerned.




The new amendments to Britain's Pet Travel Scheme took effect on April 13, 2004. Five months have passed since the date of their enactment. Yet no in-cabin air routes for guide dogs to the UK have been formally approved. And this, despite three successful trial flights on three different airlines of guide dog teams flying together in the airplane cabin. One of these was done on Virgin Atlantic Airways by a blind UK resident and his dog, and a trainer from the Guide Dogs For the Blind Association, (GDBA.) They flew from London Heathrow to Newark Liberty International Airport, and returned to England several days later. The second flight was done by a blind American and his guide dog from California to Heathrow, and home again. The third such flight involved a New Zealander named Barry Burgess, and his guide dog York. They flew on Air New Zealand from Auckland to Heathrow; a trip taking approximately 24 hours to complete. The flight from Auckland to Las Angeles lasted approximately 15 hours. After a 2-hour refueling stop at which time Barry attended to York's needs they continued on to London Heathrow; another 10 hours from L.A. Elizabeth Shickle, Chief of Veterinary Services at Heathrow told me that both Barry and York arrived in fine shape, and that both DEFRA and Air New Zealand were satisfied with the successful out-come of this flight.




The positive results of these flights has convinced both the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and DEFRA Officials that in-cabin air travel to the UK by guide dogs and their owners can be done successfully, and that such flights tend to go without serious incident. Even long-duration journeys can be done successfully with proper preparation of the dog, and careful consideration by the guide dog's owner of the advisability of flying with a guide dog in the cabin on such a long trip. Several recent national conventions have seen guide dog teams come from such far-away places as Australia, Germany, and Spain. With such success on our side you would think our airlines would want to open up their UK routes to guide dogs to permit teams to fly together in the cabin just as we do when traveling to many other domestic and foreign destinations. Being the first such air carrier to do this would garner publicity, and the good will of guide dog users as United Airlines realized when Morris and Buddy took their first flight years ago. Yet despite this no airline seems to want such recognizing, and the importance to appreciate the rightness of making these accommodations. What seem to be the problems? I'll innumerate them in the paragraphs below:




Delegation of Contract Procurement:

Airlines wishing to transport assistance dogs in their airplane cabins must secure a separate contract from DEFRA to allow them to do this in addition to the contract to permit transportation of animals in the cargo hold under the Pet Travel Scheme. In the past airlines have tended to delegate this responsibility to air cargo personnel. Since this contract is of a special nature the responsibility for obtaining, and negotiating it should be handled by passenger services personnel, and not air cargo staff. The situation is more complicated in cases where airlines take a team approach to negotiating such contracts. During the NFB's Travel and Tourism Division Meeting at our national convention an official with Delta Airlines explained how Delta handles such matters. We stressed to her the need for passenger services to be heavily involved in securing this permit, and pledged our assistance and support to help them if asked to do so. The only thing I know is that Delta is working on the matter. Anyone wishing to urge airlines to secure this contract needs to stress to them the need for air passenger services staff to be heavily involved in securing this contract.




Unavailability of contract procurement information in an accessible form:

Information concerning the contract procurement process is next to non existent on DEFRA's Web Site. DEFRA's Pet Travel Scheme information can be found on their web site located at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk


There you will find information for pet owners wishing to know how to prepare pets and guide dogs for entry in to the UK. There is also an extensive section devoted to information for veterinarians needing procedural information for properly preparing such animals for travel to the UK. Sadly there is no information in the Pet Travel Scheme area of their site explaining the procedure for securing the needed contracts for carriers to transport pets and assistance dogs to the UK under PETS. While it is a definite breach of confidentiality to post contracts of specific PETS transportation providers posting the procedure for obtaining these contracts should be made freely available to those who need to know the procedure for securing these contracts. Posting it on the DEFRA Web Site would also allow blind people to have it in a form which can be accessed independently, thus giving us a better understanding of how the contract procurement process functions. And let's not forget that there is a possibility that somewhere in the World there are blind owners of shipping companies or airlines who may want to participate as PETS carriers, and want to be able to read this information for them without having to rely on others to read it for them. I'm not aware of any plans to make this information available through DEFRA'S Web Site in the future, but if you asked me it would sure be a good idea if they did it.




Arrival Notification:

For DEFRA officials to meet guide dog teams arriving in the UK it is necessary for them to be notified as to when such teams will arrive in the UK as well as their arrival airport, date, time, and flight number. Failure to do so can result in an illegal entry and possible consequences for both the guide dog owner, and the airline. There are several ways such reporting failures can be prevented. Firstly anyone planning to visit the UK should fax their paperwork and their flight itinerary to DEFRA so they can be sure all paperwork has been filled out properly, and so they know when you will arrive so they can perform the post-arrival PETS check. Some have suggested that this could be done as a part of the flight booking process. Normally it is not necessary to notify an airline that you're traveling with a guide dog. However in this instance it is necessary for proper notification of the Animal Reception Center, (ARC), at your arrival airport to occur. This could be done during the flight booking process if you're asked if your guide dog will travel with you in the cabin. If you indicate that your guide dog will accompany you in the cabin you would be asked to give the agent, or enter the dog's microchip number in to a textbox in the case of an on-line airline reservation system. Since the microchip number was entered the reservations system would know to automatically notify the ARC at your arrival airport so quarantine officials will have your flight arrival information, and will be able to meet your flight to carry out the PETS Check on your guide dog. A demonstration prototype of such a system is currently being developed and will be on-line for you to try out by the time you read this article.




Airlines must constantly update their reservations systems. Adding this functionality shouldn't be a major expense, and could reduce the likelihood of a reporting failure. However, it is still a good idea to have your dog's paperwork checked prior to your departure to prevent possible problems upon arrival due to improperly filled out forms. Assuming the paperwork is filled out correctly DEFRA could then notify the airline they have reviewed it, and that all is in order for transportation to occur.




Fines:

PET lovers in the UK are insistent on animals being treated humanely, and with respect. Hence a rigid animal cruelty code exists. It is this stringent code which recently caused the breakdown of negotiations between one major airline, and DEFRA over the procurement of this contract. We're talking about such offences as animals not properly prepared for entry in to the UK under PETS, reporting failures as mentioned above. Other offences include animal crates being too small, or too large, no provision of water, or containers not cleaned in the case of long-duration flights. Although this happens quite often with animals transported in cargo these last three offences would not be an issue if a guide dog is transported in the cabin with its owner. There is very little chance of this happening. The carriage of guide dogs in the cabin with their human partners is much different than transporting a pet in the cargo hold. With provisions such as having paperwork checked prior to one's trip to the UK, an automated reporting system such as the one discussed above, and verification that the guide dog user has all required documents, including the tick and tapeworm certificate, on their person prior to their flight to Britain there should be plenty of checks in place to prevent this threat. Defra officials believe that although the fine stipulation is included at the insistence of the local government agency, they do not expect anything like what has occurred with pets transported in air cargo. The threat of a possible fine must be included since the ARC falls under the jurisdiction of the local authorities. Defra officials understand the concerns of the airline industry and have stated that it is not their intention to fine an airline for transporting an assistance dog in good faith.




The NFB has taken our nation's airlines to task on numerous occasions over their treatment of blind air passengers; including guide dog users. One would think they would jump at the opportunity to open their UK routes to guide dog teams enabling them to fly together in the cabin. But instead their using the minute possibility of incurring a fine, and the financial woes of the airline industry as a way to justify discrimination against guide dog users wishing to visit the UK. Rather than look at the miniscule risk of a fine, and their bottom lines we call on airlines to look at the many benefits. Blind air passengers are also looking at getting the best deal. However their marketing research is missing something. There is also a very strong loyalty factor when it comes to a company that pays more than lip service when it comes to access. The opportunity to lead rather than sit back and hope that another airline steps up to the plate is very real in this situation. For a very small risk airlines which negotiate this contract with DEFRA, and follow through to open up their UK routes for in-cabin transport of guide dogs and their blind owners will generate incredible good will and customer loyalty in the blind community, and increased profits for themselves. United Airlines stepped up to the plate in 1938 when Morris and Buddy became the first guide dog team to travel together in the airplane cabin. United recently announced its intentions to participate in the Pet Travel Scheme; even to announcing five routes from the Mainland United States to London Heathrow. However, they have not announced an official start date for service to begin nor have they announced plans to allow guide dog teams to travel together in the cabin. One would think that given the publicity they generated for themselves in 1938, and having learned the paramount importance of treating blind air passengers with respect and dignity, a lesson they, and other airlines were taught by the National Federation of the Blind on the streets, and in the Federal Courts, they would have opened up these air routes to guide dog teams once the new amendments to the Pet Travel Scheme were in acted. Perhaps they'd rather face the possibility of a law sute brought by a guide dog owner whose dog was transported in the cargo hold on a UK-bound flight, and that died due to a loss of air pressure in the hold, and the blind person's inability to give it oxygen due to their separation. I've been told that most commercial aircraft have ample oxygen masks on board should a passenger's primary mask fail to work properly. Thus there would be a way to give oxygen to a guide dog during a loss of cabin pressure; even more so on partially full flights. Perhaps that, (Local agency), in the UK ought to fine airlines for separating guide dogs from their owners given the roll these dogs play in our life should such a mishap occur.




Lack of Animal Reception Facilities at some UK Airports:

Not all UK airports can receive live cargo of any kind. This is due to the absence of an Animal Reception Center, (ARC.) When animals transported in cargo arrive in the UK they are taken from the plane to the ARC where they undergo the PETS check. If they're entering Britain under the Pet Travel Scheme they are held in the ARC once the checks are completed while they await their owner to pick them up. Those animals which don't meat the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme are sent to a quarantine station for six months, or until the animal is shown to be PETS compliant at which time the dog's owner may apply for an early release from quarantine. Guide dogs arriving in the UK are also taken to these ARCS to have these checks performed. Ground personnel assist the blind person with clearing immigration, and customs, and can escort them to the ARC to pick up their guide dog once the post-arrival PETS check is completed, an the guide dog is cleared to enter the UK. Until recently this was also the practice in Hawaii however in-terminal inspections can now be performed provided the guide dog owner requests it 7 days in advance of their arrival. In-terminal checks are also carried out when guide dogs arrive in Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps in time this service will be available to guide dogs and their owners entering the UK, but first we must be able to fly there together in the cabin. It's the old temptation to put the cart before the horse. The lack of animal reception facilities at many UK airports has made it rough on pet and guide dog owners alike. There are only three UK airports which have ARCS; all of them are in England. The newspaper article below describes the problems this has created for Scottish pet owners and guide dog users:




Monday 4 October 2004
Airlines in the doghouse over flights for pets
Nicola Smith, Brussels



Airlines have been challenged by an MEP to establish direct international services to Scotland's airports for pet animals, including guide dogs. Passengers still cannot fly directly to or from Scotland with their pets, despite the operation of a government-approved Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) for the past four years, the Liberal Democrat MEP Elspeth Attwooll said, as she launched her campaign.




PETS was introduced on 28 February, 2000, to allow dogs and cats to travel between the UK and certain European countries, without going through quarantine, if they meet stringent health checks. But the absence of animal reception facilities at any major Scottish airport means air passengers traveling to and from Scotland face the additional cost and inconvenience of transfers via England.




Currently, only Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports have the right facilities to check that animals meet the official document and health requirements, including a compulsory rabies vaccination. "It is difficult to believe that no animal reception facilities exist in Scotland's airports," said Mrs. Attwooll.




"This situation is particularly distressing for guide dog users because of the effects of being separated from their animals during the flight. Only a handful of European routes permit guide dogs and other assistance dogs in the cabin."




Mrs. Attwooll also pledged to take the issue of additional charges for guide dog owners to Brussels, to lobby for European Union anti-discrimination laws to be used to cut charges for blind Passengers. She was prompted to act after pleas from a Scot who has been unable to travel freely to his holiday home in Spain with his guide dog, despite paying hundreds of pounds in veterinary charges.




James Mowat, from Glasgow, can travel easily to his second home in Roquetas de Mar, in Spain's Almeria province, but he faces huge difficulties on the return journey. His nine-year-old German shepherd dog, Kirk, had already complied with the PETS scheme by being microchipped and vaccinated against rabies two years ago, at a cost of ?200. The dog also receives annual anti-rabies boosters costing ?48 a time. But Mr. Mowat's forthcoming trip to Spain could be in jeopardy due to the spiraling costs of transporting Kirk back to Scotland. Mr. Mowat said he could leave on a charter flight, operated by My Travel, directly from Glasgow Airport, but that he was left with two more expensive options on his return. Mr. Mowat believes the whole issue of guide dogs and air travel is flawed. "As far as I am concerned, it is very right and proper that the British government should protect its citizens, as our country is currently rabies-free," he said. "But if you are disabled, then you are exempt from road tax on your car. I see no reason why [in this case] the government cannot absorb the costs."




The Scottish Executive confirmed that the only approved direct route for animals between Scotland and the continent was the ferry service linking Rosyth and Zeebrugge, in Belgium.




Note:

The Scottish Executive Environments, Rural, and Agriculture Department, (SEERAD) referred to in the above article is DEFRA'S counter-part agency in Scotland. The National Assembly of Wales Agriculture Department, (NAWAD), and the Irish Department for Agriculture, and Rural Development, (DARD) perform these functions in Whales and Ireland. SEERAD and NAWAD operate programs such as Great Britain's Pet Travel Scheme in Whales and Scotland respectively. End Note.




England, Scotland, and Wales participate in the Pet Travel Scheme. Pets, including guide dogs may also travel freely between the UK and the Channel Islands, (Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Mann.) Neither the Republic of Ireland, nor Northern Ireland participates in the Pet Travel Scheme. Animals entering Ireland directly must spend six months in quarantine. However animals entering Ireland via England may enter without undergoing quarantine. Air Lingus is Ireland's flagship airline and operates direct routes from many major U.S. Cities to several Irish airports however the current rules concerning the carriage of guide dogs still apply. Efforts are underway to include Ireland in the Pet Travel Scheme. We'll keep Harness Up readers posted on these developments.




Priorities of UK Blind:

While this issue is of great concern to those of us living in long haul countries wanting to visit the UK with our guide dogs many UK blind people find travel by ferry, and rail more convenient, and less costly. One UK resident told me that most guide dog users journey to the European Continent this way and find it far more enjoyable than traveling by air. This and the lowered expectations of UK guide dog users brought on by not being able to travel abroad with their guide dogs for many years has caused this issue to be low on the UK blindness issues priority list. This situation also exists in other countries including Canada. Rebecca Redmil is a rehab teacher in the Toronto Area studying Welsh Language and culture. She very much wants to visit Whales, and England accompanied by her guide dog. She has tried to work with Air Canada to encourage them to open up their UK routes for in-cabin carriage of guide dogs. She told me that she is just one of a handful of blind Canadians who feel this issue important enough to warrant demanding policy changes by Canada's Airlines. Her recent attempts to contact Air Canada on this matter have yielded nothing but unanswered inquiries, and phone calls not being returned. Other guide dog users I know have reported similar behavior from other U.S., and Canadian Airlines concerning this issue. One can only hope that other countries such as Canada and the UK will adopt legislation concerning the carriage of blind air travelers and guide dogs similar to our Air Carrier Access Act. The airlines can scream all they want about their financial situation, and the threat of fines. At the end of the day blind air travelers wishing to be accompanied by their guide dogs in the cabin will be victorious. We in the NFB will ensure that this happens.




IATA:

The International Air Transport Association, (IATA) is an organization consisting of member airlines and others concerned with safe air travel. This organization sets standards for the safe and efficient operation of commercial airlines. These standards cover everything from aircraft design to the transportation of passengers with disabilities. This latter subject is to be a matter for discussion at a fourth-coming IATA conference to be held later this fall. Dr. William Roland, First Vice President of the World Blind Union along with other blind consumers representing the blind community are to attend this conference to voice matters of concern regarding the treatment of blind air travelers including those who use guide dogs. Dr. Roland is aware of the situation with in-cabin carriage of guide dogs to the UK and plans to bring this issue up during the IATA Conference. He and I have had correspondence on a number of occasions related to this issue, and the recent behavior of airlines concerning this matter. One can only hope that the outcome of this conference will produce positive fruit where the transportation of guide dogs and their owners is concerned. Perhaps we could have an IATA person speak to us at a future NAGDU meeting. He plans to make contacts among IATA's members to improve relations between IATA, the World's airlines, and the blind community.




The European Union

The UK is a part of the European Union, (EU). EU member states are governed by the European Commission headquartered in Brussels. The commission establishes regulations all member states must abide by. A recent initiative of the EU Commission is the creation of an EU Pet Passport for the non-commercial movement of pet animals between member states, in to, and out of the European Union. Anyone wishing to enter the UK via another EU Country must obtain this passport if they plan to travel in to England from this EU Country. As the above newspaper article indicates some have suggested that the EU Commission take a hand in creating anti-discrimination regulations member states must comply with such as the carriage of guide dogs by air carriers operating within, in to, and out of the EU. To me this would be a more worthwhile campaign EU member nations should undertake rather than eliminating the cost of transportation of guide dogs to the UK. Making it law that member states must permit guide dogs to fly in the cabin with their owners would eliminate much of this expense making it less costly for UK residents to return home with their guide dogs as well as opening up long haul routes in to the UK. We can do much where airlines which operate routes to the UK from the United States are concerned. Ultimately our blind brothers and sisters in these countries need to redouble their efforts to achieve the out-come we all long for; as Morris might put it, being able to prepare our guide dogs so they're PETS compliant, secure our passports and other travel documents, buy our tickets, and go on our way.




The Current Air Travel Picture:

While there are currently no direct air routes in to the UK from long haul countries travel to England with a guide dog in the cabin is not entirely out of the question given the recent changes to the Pet Travel Scheme. For someone who, (Needs to go now), it is possible to enter England via a European PETS air carrier approved to transport guide dogs in the cabin on specific routes. For example one could fly from several major U.S. cities on Lufthansa to Frankfurt Germany, and then on in to London Heathrow as the route between Frankfurt, and London Heathrow is approved for guide dogs to fly in the cabin. British Midland International, (BMI also operate several such routes from Amsterdam in Holland, Parris France, Madrid, and Palma Majorca Spain all to London Heathrow. Britannia Airways operates a number of routes from various cities in Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, and Spain to both London Gatwick, and Manchester International Airports. The routes in to Manchester were announced on September 14, 2004 bringing the total number of European air routes in to the UK approved for guide dogs to travel in the cabin to 31; up from 17 earlier this year. With the opening of the Manchester routes guide dog users in most destinations in Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, and Spain can now fly in to either London Gatwick or Manchester. One can now fly from Palma Majorca to London Heathrow on British Midland International, or to Gatwick, or Manchester on Britannia Airways giving guide dog users three routes to enter the UK from Palma Majorca without having to be separated from their guide dog. This is all to say that while there are no direct air routes in to the UK approved for in-cabin transportation of guide dogs from long haul countries travel to Britain with such dogs is not out of the question.




The Sea and Rail Entry Options:

Another option for a guide dog user wishing to visit the British Isles to avoid having to fly their guide dog in cargo would be to fly to one of the cities mentioned above, and enter England via rail, or a sea crossing. The Eurostar Rail Service is approved to carry guide dogs in to England in their passenger cars. The Euroshuttle route is mainly for cargo including vehicular entries in to England. Those wishing to use this service drive their vehicle on to the rail car and are shuttled through the Eurotunnel to the Folkston Terminus where they off-load and can go on their way. Animals, including guide dogs remain in the vehicle with their owners for the trip in to England through the Eurotunnel.




A number of ferry crossings operate between Belgium, France, Holland, and Spain, (The vast majority of these routes operate from several French ports, and arrive at a number of British ports, and one Scottish Port.) Most of these routes are for vehicular traffic only. Animals accompanying their owners on a ferry crossing remain in the vehicle with their owners for the duration of the crossing. Some routes also permit foot passengers with pets including guide dogs. One route only permits guide and hearing dogs to travel with foot passengers. There is currently only one long haul sea route in to Shoreham England from Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Since this is a long-duration voyage pets and assistance dogs are allowed to accompany their owners to various shipboard activities, and for routine care and maintenance of the animal.




Unlike air routes where the post-arrival inspections are carried out upon arrival in England these checks are performed prior to the pet or guide dog and its owner boarding the vehicle. Those which pass the PETS check are given a sticker they must keep on their person, or vehicle to alert authorities at the arrival port that the animal has successfully passed the PETS check and is cleared to enter the UK. Owners must keep this sticker on their person or vehicle until they have left the arrival terminal, or port. I have included the above information as this is an option for those wishing to travel to the UK who wants to cut costs given the current situation with direct air routes from the U.S., and travel with a guide dog.




Cut-Rate Web Travel Services:

All of us want to get the best deal we can find when we fly, but very often these, "Deals" come with a price. Some cut-rate travel firms, especially some on-line travel services offer great rates, but you don't receive your travel itinerary until after your ticket is paid for. They give you no say as to which airline you will fly on, and this can create serious problems for those wanting to fly to the UK accompanied by a guide dog in the airplane cabin. It wouldn't be such a, "Great deal" if you paid for the plane ticket only to find out that you were confirmed on an airline that does not participate in the Pet Travel Scheme, or that does not offer in-cabin air routes for guide and other assistance dogs. Due to the fact that domestic dogs, cats, and ferrets can only enter the UK on approved PETS Routes you are advised to avoid using these services when booking your flight to England unless you first fly to a European Pets Country and plan to enter the UK via sea, rail, or on a European air route approved for the in-cabin carriage of guide dogs.




As I write this closing paragraph I'm thinking back on all that's happened during the past year with this issue. It was just a year ago when Mike Osborn drew up his proposal to have the Pet Travel Scheme amended to allow guide dogs to be transported in airplane cabins to the UK. The battle has been long, and as the above paragraphs indicate filled with ups and downs. The music of the soundtrack from The Fellowship of the Ring fills my ears while my guide dog Tim lays beside me as I type these last sentences. Each morning I check DEFRA's Web Site for the latest news concerning the Pet Travel Scheme; specifically announcements of new air routes to the UK opened up for guide dogs to travel in the cabin. Like many of us wishing to visit England who have spent hundreds, and in some cases thousands of dollars to prepare our dogs to enter the UK under PETS the waiting continues. We live our lives wondering if after so much work has been done to remove the roadblock for in-cabin air travel to the UK with a guide dog if airline madness will prevail, or if this madness will give way to reason, and respect for the wishes of blind air travelers desiring to fulfill a vocational, or educational goal, or simply to mark a milestone in life by visiting Great Britain. As Morris said years ago when he and Buddy took that historic flight on United Airlines we in the NFB want to be able to say that we have made it possible for all guide dog users to travel by land, sea and air to lead their blind owners wherever in this wide, wide World we care or need to go.




8. Knowledge is Power

By Chastity Jackson



I just wanted to share this experience with you all. Last month, after my graduation ceremony, Chris, along with some friends and I decided to celebrate by going to a Chinese restaurant in O?Fallon, Missouri where my family and I frequently ate. We had been eating there for 6 years and the owner of the restaurant knew my family and me all by name.




As we went inside, the host working there immediately told us that my dog could not go inside. I repeatedly explained to her that I've always been allowed inside and that I knew the owner. I asked for the owner and she first said yes she's here and then said the owner did not work there anymore. There were other people in the back, but the person refused to get any of them and allow us to speak to them. Finally, the person let us go to our table and sit down, but as I was sitting down, she kicked my dog and pushed her under the table before I had a chance to give my dog the proper command to sit under the table on my own. She began screaming that my dog should not be in the restaurant. I did not know she kicked my dog until my friends and some other people at a table over had told me. Then, my friend Sean and I both went to the buffet at the same time, as it is a buffet style restaurant. As we were there, a person who worked there told my friend Sean that I needed to stop getting my food at the buffet. The person wanted me to go back to my table and wanted my friend Sean to get my food for me. Sean said that's unreasonable to ask. The person was also requesting that we move to a separate table in the corner away from other people eating there. I asked when the person I knew was going to be working again but no one could tell me. The person who I know there would not know who I am over the phone, she would have to see my face to know who I am because she doesn't speak the best English.




I was told in guide dog training that when this incident occurs and there is no way for me to educate the person that the police should be notified, as this is not only a civil law, but a criminal law as well and the police would be the best authorities to educated the establishment. I first tried to show the restaurant worker the booklet of guide dog statutes that I carried with me which stated that in Missouri that it is a class B misdemeanor to refuse service to someone with a guide dog. He did not speak or read English well and Sean called the police. When the officer arrived, I explained that I did not want the restaurant to be charged with anything, and my intent was not to get the restaurant into any trouble as I knew the owner and had never had a problem here. I just wanted the officer to speak to someone in charge to explain the law. The officer himself was unclear of the law. He said, "I agree with you, it's against the law, but I will not be enforcing the law here. I personally believe that the restaurant has a legitimate concern and that your guide dog is a health hazard here. Think about it, this is a buffet style restaurant and there are open containers everywhere." I attempted to show him the statutes, which made it against the law and he told me to put my statute book away, he was not interested in reading about a law that he already knew about. He said it was not a criminal law, it was only a civil law. He wanted to leave and wanted me to file an ADA complaint and take it to court. I explained that I did not want to do this and I just wanted someone to talk to the restaurant so I could continue eating there. He said no and he said, "Don't put me in a situation where I'm going to have to ask you to leave." He explained that he agreed with both myself and the restaurant. He understood both points of view and was not going to do anything. He said, "The owner has already said you can stay here if you remain seated at this table and your friend gets your food for you." To make a long story short, the officer did nothing and left, and my friends and I were disgusted and left too and ate at another restaurant. I tried contacting the owner several times, but the same lady that I dealt with kept answering the phone and did not tell me when the owner would be there.




The following week, I contacted the O?Fallon police department to make a complaint against the officer. The person informed me that I needed to do that through OFallon City Hall. City Hall wanted me to talk to the St. Charles County Police Department. I left a message for them and my message got forwarded to the Chief of Police at OFallon Police Department. He was a very nice guy. He called me and apologized, but he told me that he thought the officer was in the right by saying what he said, he said the officer was not right about the health hazard issue, but about the fact that the police could do nothing. He said, "I think that's the case, but I'll check." I could really tell that this guy was doing his research because he asked me if I could get him a copy of the guide dog laws. I e-mailed it to him. He called me about three or four other times that day to ask other questions. A couple days later, he called me to apologize and to tell me that I was right. He told me the police department was uneducated about the law. He admitted that he had even tried to call the health department to try to get justification from them as to why my guide dog should not be in the restaurant, but the health department explained that a trained guide dog is not a health hazard. After looking at the sections of the law he told me that the officer was wrong for what he did. He told me that on Wednesday, August 18, he was going to bring all of the officers in the department together for a meeting and educate them on the law and he was going to send an officer to the Chinese restaurant to educate them too. He called me this past week to tell me that the meeting went well, the officers now understood the law, and that he sent the sergeant to the restaurant to explain the law. He said I should not have any more trouble with the restaurant. The chief thanked me for being very reasonable throughout the whole matter and asked if it would be possible for me to come to a meeting with the officers sometime to answer any questions they might have about guide dogs. I told him if he ever needed or wanted that, he could call me. My dad is so disgusted that he does not ever want to eat there again, but if I ever get up to O?Fallon, I plan on going there again, because I've always enjoyed it there. I'm glad, if anything, that the officers got educated about the law in case this ever happens at another establishment in O?Fallon.




Note:

This is a perfect example of how to handle this kind of situation. Educate. Don't lose your temper. Many of our police departments are sadly unaware of the guide dog laws. Educating them is the way to go.




9. Close Call in Hawaii




The following letter was received by email. We were pleased with its speedy resolution.




Aloha:



I am a Hearing Dog user and a resident of Hawaii. I travel frequently to the mainland for business accompanied by my dog, Shona. I have recently become aware that the Hawaii Department of Agriculture will begin charging people who enter Hawaii with their guide dogs and service dogs the same entry fee that is charged to people coming in with their pets ($165.00). I have been traveling to and from Hawaii for three years with my dog and have not until this point been asked to pay a fee. More information on these new guidelines can be found online at:

http://www.hawaiiag.org/hdoa/ai_aqs_guidedog.htm


I believe that this entry fee will present a hardship for assistance dog users traveling to Hawaii and may prevent people from being able to travel with their dogs. This is especially true for residents of Hawaii who may have to pay this fee every time they travel out of state with their dogs. While people with pets may choose not to travel with their dogs, many people with disabilities depend on their dogs for their independence, particularly when traveling away from home in unfamiliar territory.




I am writing because I would like to encourage guide dog and service dog users and trainers to mount a protest against these new regulations. I am not in a position to lead this effort, as my hearing dog is recuperating from an injury to her spine and I am also pregnant. However, I want to make people aware of the fee and am hoping that others will be interested in protesting what I feel are discriminatory practices against guide dog and service dog users.




Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or feedback.




Megan A. Conway, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Coordinator, National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)




Resolution



Dear Dr. Maeda,




Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful news with me. I cannot tell you how many assistance dog users (guide, hearing and service dogs) have expressed their concern since Ms. Conway brought the proposed fee to our attention.




Please do pass along a sincere Mahalo to the staff at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture for rethinking this matter and for their decision to not implement the fee for qualified assistance dogs.




Most sincerely,

Michael C. Osborn




-----Original Message-----
From: Dr. Isaac Maeda
To: Michael Osborn
Subject: Re: Thank You




Dear Mr. Osborn:




The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) will not be implementing the fee for qualified guide and service dogs. The notice will be removed from the HDOA website within a week.




Thank you for your comments on this issue.




Mahalo,
Isaac M. Maeda, DVM Program Manager
Rabies Quarantine Branch



Michael Osborn wrote:




Dr. Maeda,




Thank your for your prompt response to my inquiry.




If we can provide the Department of Agriculture staff looking into this issue with background information so that they have a better understanding of our concerns, I would be happy to provide it.




Sincerely,





Michael C. Osborn




10. NAGDU List Subscription Information

by Peter Donahue



Hello everyone,




I'm sending subscription instructions so you all can join the NAGDU Discussion List hosted by NFB Net. The procedure is not all that complicated to get on. You can do this in two ways. The first is to go to:

http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nagdu

and subscribe to the list from the NFB Net Lists page.




The second option is to send a blank e-mail message to:

nagdu-request@nfbnet.org


In the subject field type the word subscribe, and send the message. You will receive a confirmation message verifying that you want to join the list. Simply reply to this message by pressing control + r, and send the message. You will then receive a welcome message explaining the nature of the list, and outlining the ground rules for discussions held there. I've noticed that since the national convention a number of new members have subscribed to the list, and the discussions have been great covering a number of topics. I'm glad to see that everyone has e-mail and all of you can get on the list should you choose to do so.




11. NOT ALL HEROES ARE PEOPLE

by Al Evans


James Crane worked on the 101st floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. He is blind so he has a golden retriever named Daisy. After the plane hit 20 stories below, James knew that he was doomed, so he let Daisy go, out of an actt of love. She darted away into the darkened hallway. Choking on the fumes of the jet fuel and the smoke James was just waiting to die. About 30 minutes later, Daisy comes back along with James' boss, who Daisy just happened to pick up on floor 112.




On her first run of the building, she leads James, James' boss, and about 300 more people out of the doomed building. But she wasn't through yet, she knew there were others who were trapped. So, highly against James' wishes she ran back in the building.



On her second run, she saved 392 lives. Again she went back in. During this run, the building collapses. James hears about this and falls on his knees into tears. Against all known odds, Daisy makes it out alive, but this time she is carried by a firefighter. "She led us right to the people, before she got injured" the fireman explained.




Her final run saved another 273 lives. She suffered acute smoke inhalation, severe burns on all four paws, and a broken leg, but she saved 967 lives. The next week, Mayor Giuliani rewards Daisy with the Canine medal of Honor of New York. Daisy is the first civilian Canine to win such an honor.




12. HA! HA! HA!

by Bill Braese



Polly the parrot didn't look well, and the vet confirmed it. "I'm sorry," he told the owner, I'm afraid your bird doesn't have long to live." "Oh, no," wailed the owner. "Are you sure?" The vet left the room and returned with a big black Labrador, who sniffed the bird from top to bottom, then shook his head. Next the vet brought in a cat. He too sniffed the parrot and sadly shook his head. "Your bird is definitely terminal," said the vet, handing the owner a bill. "Wait--$500! Just to tell me my bird is dying?" The vet shrugged. "If you'd taken my word for it, the bill would only have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan..."




13. Division Officers




President:
Mrs. Priscilla Ferris
: 55 Delaware Avenue
: Somerset, Massachusetts 02726
508-673-0218
nfbmass@earthlink.net


Vice President:
Marion Gwizdala
1003 Papaya Dr.
: Tampa, FL 33619
: (813) 661-7287
blind411@verizon.net


Secretary:
Melissa Riccobono
15 West Barney St.
: Baltimore, Maryland 21230
: (410) 837-0707
maricco@verizon.net


Treasurer:
Robert Eschbach
1186 North Verbena Place
: Casa Grande, Arrizona 85222-5440
: (520) 836-3698
pbesch@earthlink.net



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