Posted on May 1, 2008 · Posted in Brain Injury

It is no surprise to me, that people are more open talking about their pets than themselves. We often enjoy hearing about them more too..

On May 1, 2008, at 7:50 PM, PR Latenser wrote:

I noted your blog comments where you defended service dogs…

Let me tell you about our service dog.
She is an 85 Lb Doberman.
We got her as a puppy because my wife was suffering classic symptoms of PTSD after her experience in Hurricane Katrina
I and we are good with dog training so we embarked upon training (originally an informal therapy dog) our dog to be a search and rescue dog.
She is a trailing dog that follows your trail when you get lost (very general definition)
Our Doberman; Katrina has an exemplary history:
· She had her first find at nine months when it typically takes 1.5 – 3 years to train a dog like this.
· She has been acting as an ambassador to the elderly and the young by giving kisses to them at awareness events since she was 3 months old.
· She works with multiple law enforcement agencies providing both evidence and rescue search services.
We are currently renters as we seek out a building site to build a home
We have experienced prejudices all over and we can usually disarm the uniformed (primarily because Katrina is so social that she wins them over)
Currently we have an insurance company for a property management firm that has reversed our rental approval after fees, deposits and first months rent have been paid.

I do not write to you because of our rental woes.

I do hope to find some insight to help me put a question to bed.

Is a search and rescue dog a service dog?
Is there a source of a definitive authority who can answer?
California Penal Code Sections 365.5(F) and 365.5(G)(2) seem to say it clearly in my mind; but, I still find those who become very animated with a differing opinion.

Katrina is individually trained
Katrina offers aid to anyone who has become in need of help due to being lost, injured, disoriented or immobilized.
Katrina has been determined to be a service dog and issued her service tags in Turlock, California
BUT: I am to understand that not all jurisdictions would agree with our counties determination.

I provide a link to the Federal definitions

Philip R. Latenser

Katrina.  What a fitting name.  Of all the tragedy that came out of that storm, one of its great legacies will be that it forever taught our society that people’s pets are as important to them, as we are to the pets.  Discriminate against a dog – you discriminate against that dog’s person.  Our legal system has a hard time recognizing the “rights” of a dog.  The lawyer in me turns that rhetoric a little by defining discrimination against a dog, as discrimination against a person, because of their “beliefs” and values, that a dog is precious and unique.  The truly smart politician would do more than photo ops with his or her dog, but would stand up and demand that peoples need for their dogs receive that special status we reserve for so-called protected classes, such as race, religion or handicap status.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447