We have long been aware of the incredible innate capabilities that animals have. Aside from being able to detect things like natural disasters and medical complications, they can be overwhelmingly compassionate.
When it comes to the heartwarming empathy of animals, we have to take a look at the incredible service dogs out there. Many of them are trained to react in dire situations and to heavy emotional stress. Some dogs are even trained to help relieve the pain of veterans suffering from high anxiety.
Devyn Pereira, 7, suffers from a severe medical condition and has long had to depend on her service dog, Hannah. Over the past couple of years, however, Devyn’s school district has made it very difficult for Hannah to accompany the little girl to school.
Fortunately, some very big players recently stepped in to help Devyn and her family fight for the rights of their wonderful dog…
Seven-year-old Devyn Pereira, from Rochester, New York, has an Angelman syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by autism and aggravated epileptic seizures.
For years, she has needed the help of Hannah, her service dog. Hannah not only helps Devyn stay focused on her learning, but is also trained to detect her oncoming seizures.
Very unfortunately, officials from the Gates Chili Central School District, where Devyn has her classes, have set up roadblocks to keep the dog out.
Devyn’s family has had to pay for a full-time handler for Hannah so that she can legally accompany Devyn to school.
Devyn’s family has tried to request a change to this policy for the last three years. Since then, they have had to pay more than $25,000 in handler fees.
However, they’ve recently gained a powerful ally in their struggle. A few days ago, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the school district. It claimed that the school had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“It is no longer acceptable… for a [school] district to refuse reasonable modifications to a child who seeks to handle her own service dog,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. in a press release. He further asserted that the Department will simply not tolerate discrimination against anyone who is affected by disabilities.
If the DOJ wins this lawsuit, Devyn will be allowed — with some help from school staff — to act as Hannah’s handler. The school district will also be required to compensate the family for any handler fees that they’ve had to pay.
The DOJ is just one entity in this fight for the little girl’s right to independently be accompanied by her service dog. Both adults and children alike have taken to social media with the united message: “We will be your voice, Devyn.”
“Devyn can no longer be denied the help she needs to use her service dog at school,” her family wrote on their petition page. “Our victory is not only for Devyn but for all the families facing similar injustices.”
We, too believe that Devyn has the right to be with her service dog, and strongly hope that the Department of Justice will win this battle.
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