Your Views for February 28

School security

I like this idea best. We have to fortify our schools.


Big walls, all the way around, and guards at the front door.


Thomas Jelf


Dog laws explained

Stop the misinformation about service dogs (Your Views, Feb. 22)!

No, there is no Department of Health directive to require a barrier of any kind between service dogs and shopping carts. The DOH had a 2014 document that suggested such a policy, but it has been 100 percent withdrawn as being a direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

No, service dogs do not have to be “docile”; they need to be clean and well-behaved, or they can be asked to be removed.

No, service dogs do not have to have reached a particular age; so-called puppies can be great service dogs, especially for psychological disabilities under the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

No, there is no evidence that doctors and therapists are willy-nilly handing out fake prescriptions for a service dog to folks who do not meet the legal standards.

No, you should not direct your employees to ask every dog handler “the two questions”: Is this a service dog? What tasks does he or she perform?

The first question profiles handlers of dogs who are required to know and obey dog laws as likely to be scofflaws.

The second question almost always would require a disclosure of the nature of the person’s disability, which is a violation of law. You are on VERY thin ice to start down the road of asking these two questions. Felony violations of federal law await you at every turn!

The solution would be a statewide or national registry with the government, including a doctor’s letter recommending the use of a service dog and a trainer’s letter documenting that the dog is able to perform tasks in the needed environments.

While we wait for that common sense move to occur, know that no dog that is dirty or poorly behaved is allowed to stay in a public place as an accommodation to a disabled handler.

So, if the dog is clean and well-behaved, DO NOT BOTHER THEM. However, if the dog is either dirty or poorly behaved, you can and should ask the handler to remove it (rescheduling their appointment, if needed, so they can return with a clean, well-behaved dog). Service dog or not, they cannot stay if they are dirty or poorly behaved.

The only other suggestion I will make is this. If you have a question about the dog-use laws or about a particular situation, call me immediately. I can help.

If you want a staff training session (usually done before your office opens for the day, or just after closing), I can provide you with one. I have never turned down a training client merely on the basis of their inability to pay, so if your small business cannot pay for a $300 training session, I will provide you with one pro bono.

We must protect our businesses and customers and do our part to defend the rights of the disabled in our community. A formal training session provides you with your best protection against misguided complaints or lawsuits for violating the rights of a disabled person.

No one wants that, least of all the hundreds of legitimate service dog users in Hawaii County.


Carl F. Oguss

East Hawaii Dog Psychology Center