International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners
IAADP President: Ed Eames, Ph.D.
3376 N. Wishon, Fresno, CA 93704-4832
Phone: (559) 224-0544 Fax: (559) 224-5851
Board of Directors: Chris Branson MD, Toni Eames, Lynn Houston
Devon Wilkins, Joan Froling, Jill Exposito, Carol King
July 25, 2004
Wayne Cavanaugh, President
United Kennel Club
100 East Kilgore Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49002
We hope you are as happy living in Michigan as we are in California. We met you in 1992 when Toni's guide dog Ivy received the Delta Society award as the outstanding service dog of the year. As former New Yorkers, we get back to the city every few years to visit friends, relatives and take in some Broadway plays.
It has recently come to our attention that the UKC, in conjunction with Service Dogs of America is initiating a new title program called Service Dog.....One, Two and Three, and Service Dog Alert. Unfortunately, we anticipate this will lead to considerable confusion.
The term Service Dog is the most significant term to describe dogs who assist people with disabilities. Service dogs for people with disabilities are legally permitted to accompany their disabled partners into all places of public accommodation, and should never be protection trained.
We are deeply concerned your choice of terminology will jeopardize the hard won civil rights of people with disabilities who have spent years educating the public about the life enhancing role performed by our service dogs. The fear that dogs with disabled handlers might be a potential threat to public safety once led many municipalities to enact legislation requiring our dogs to be muzzled in public places. By linking the term Service dog with "protection training," the UKC will be endangering the societal tolerance we have worked so hard to earn in the USA since those dark times.
We also fear your new program could mislead non disabled title holders into thinking they have public access rights even though they are not disabled. There are window signs on many stores, restaurants, motels and airports nationwide saying Service Dogs Welcome, thanks to the Delta Society's National Service Dog Center campaign and the diligent efforts of members and well wishers. The airlines permit passengers with service dogs to fly in the plane cabin if they mention they have a service dog when they make their reservations. Under federal law, the airline and other places of public accommodation cannot ask the person for proof of disability or to identify their disabling condition. If the person says the dog is a service dog, the public entity is supposed to give them the benefit of the doubt. How will your title holders know it is illegal for their pet "service dog" to accompany them into places saying "Service Dogs Welcome" and onto airplanes and other public transport?
We applaud the UKC for promoting the human animal bond by encouraging pet owners to train their canine companions to high standards. However, we implore you to change your terminology.
We are writing to you on behalf of the Coalition of Assistance Dog Organizations, comprised of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, Guide Dog Users Inc., Assistance Dogs International and the Council of U.S. Dog Guide Schools.
Below are some suggestions we received of potential substitute title names you could consider for your new program offering preparatory obedience titles and protection training degrees for the family pet.
Ed Eames Ph.D., President
Toni Eames M.S., Treasurer
ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTIONS Family Protector ... Level One, Two, Three
Home Safety Dog ... Level One, Two, Three
Safety Alert Dog
Personal Safety Dog ... Level One, Two, Three
Family Sentry ... Level One, Two, Three
Sentry Alert Dog ... stepping stone to advanced protection training titles
UPDATE on UKC Title Issue!The United Kennel Club has reconsidered its decision to award Service Dog titles to competitors with protection trained dogs! IAADP has received word the titles have been changed to Protection Dog and Police Dog titles, which better reflect the kind of competition being judged. IAADP would like to thank the United Kennel Club and its President, Wayne Cavenaugh, for listening to the concerns expressed by IAADP in this letter and to all the calls, letters and faxes received from the disabled community on this matter. It was a socially responsible decision that does great credit to the UKC and to the protection dog titling organization it has partnered with, Service Dogs of America.
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