Your Views for March 9

Dogs and the law

The state’s Disability and Communication Access Board is responsible for the Americans with Disabilities Act in Hawaii, which includes rules involving service animals.

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A letter to the editor by Mr. Carl Oguss, titled “Dog laws explained” (Your Views, Tribune-Herald, Feb. 28), attempted to correct information in an earlier letter to the editor by Ms. T. Spinola-Campbell, titled “Fake service animals” (Your Views, Tribune-Herald, Feb. 22).

Unfortunately, Mr. Oguss only perpetuated wrong information.

In her letter, Ms. Spinola-Campbell discussed a proposed law authored by state Sen. Russell Ruderman that cracks down on fake service animals. While we do not agree 100 percent with this bill, DCAB supports the intent and reaffirms the problem of fake service animals. This bill was amended and is still alive in the Legislature.

Mr. Oguss’ letter, however, contains major errors. Mr. Oguss refers to a 2014 document suggesting that the use of a barrier (such as a blanket) between a service animal and a cart was withdrawn as a violation of the ADA. This is not true. The document is a policy guidance, not a directive, and it remains valid. I co-signed the guidance and can attest to its validity, as can the state Department of Health.

Mr. Oguss advises readers not to ask dog handlers the two questions: “Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?” and “What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?”

He suggests this is a felony violation of federal law. In fact, these questions are exactly what businesses should and can ask of a person with a dog, as stated by the U.S. Department of Justice, the agency issuing rules relating to service animals in public accommodations.

We encourage businesses to obtain training from reputable entities with accurate information. Rules vary for business, employment, housing and air travel.

Contact the Disability and Communication Access Board at dcab@doh.hawaii.gov for more information or visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s website at www.ada.gov.

Francine Wai

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Executive director,

Disability and Communication Access Board