Editor's note: The letter below was written in response to a story posted on January 11, 2014, "A medical assist dog at Stop 'n Shop" by Walter Brooks.
Dear Mr. Brooks,
I am the owner/handler of the service dog you featured in you Jan. 11 article. Thank you for writing the article and the wonderful explanation you gave of service dogs. I am grateful.
I read the comments that were left by various readers. It breaks my heart that people can be so judgmental and cruel. This letter is meant to correct some of the misinformation that were in those comments. My dog is a medical alert service dog. I have a medical condition that can change very abruptly.
She is able to smell a chemical change in my body and warn me to oncoming problems. When she warns me I take a certain medication that stops the changes. Prior to getting her, I was unable to leave my home for two years. My dog has passed the public access test, I carry a doctor's letter and recently I won a denial of access case in the Massachusetts Superior Court.
My dog is a very legitimate service dog. Yes, there are people who do have fake service dogs. I am asked all the time by people how the can get away with bringing their dog into a store. I tell them that is a violation of the law and to be grateful that they have good health and don't need a service dog.
Sadly I noticed the greatest criticism came from a fellow service dog owner/handler, claiming my dog was a fake because she was sitting in the child's seat. She then went on to espouse the rules of service dog protocol. In response to that I recommend she contact the Cape Cod Organization for the Rights of the Disabled.
My dog is in the child's seat because of something called a "reasonable accommodation". Stop and Shop, agrees to this because my dog is small and could be seriously injured or killed by a shopping cart or even someone stepping on her. I carry Purell in my car, I clean the cart before I put her in it and I clean it again after I remove her. She is on a pad and bath towel, so she never touches the cart. She is trained not to sniff, lick, or touch any item I do not give her permission to have contact with.
I have an invisible disability. To most people I would seem strong and healthy. Believe me Mr. Brooks, I wish it were so. I would give anything to be who and where I was in life before a disease took it all away. My dog gave me back my life in all aspects. I just wish people would be a lot more understanding, such as you are.
Again, thank you for the great article. More importantly thank you for being a kind, understanding and caring man. May God bless you.