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MILO & KEN

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A visit with Ken Williamson and his Service Dog, Milo
What exactly is a service dog? On September 15, 2010, the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, issued new and updated regulations regarding Service Animals, as summarized in its official guidance document, which states:
“Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples
of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting
and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming
a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals
are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”
I met Milo at the Art Walk last fall and was fortunate enough to meet up with him again through his trainer Ken Williamson
not long ago when we met to talk about Service Dogs and what it takes to train one, to be a trainer, and to discuss all the
many misconceptions surrounding these very special animals. Milo is a very gentle, calm and very well trained service dog.
He seems to be very popular with the Downtown crowd as well. Ken explained that the Downtown Restaurant is one of the
places that allows Ken to train Milo during working hours. Most of us have been, at one time or another, in the presence of a
service dog and have felt unsure as to how to respond. The dog is working so should we acknowledge the dog? The answer
is “Only when you first ask the owner so that he or she can give the dog permission to respond to you.” Ken explained that all
working dogs are trained to be “socially neutral” when working, so asking the owner is the polite and respectful way to handle
any interaction with a service dog.
“It isn’t just people that are confused or misinformed when it comes to how to deal with a service animal. Businesses also
have many misconceptions about the rights of people with service animals not to mention how to determine what is a
service animal and what is not.” As we spoke further with Ken it became clear that this is a topic with many sides to
it and as someone with an interest in and experience with animals like Milo, perhaps a deeper dive into the do’s and
don’ts of this industry – training, certification, what is and what isn’t acceptable/legal regarding these animals is valuable
information.  So here is the first of several installments of Service Animals – A Gift and A Responsibility
The Americans With disabilities Act defines Service animals as: …dogs that are individually trained to do work or
perform tasks for people with disabilities. This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance
animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

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