Letters to the Editor
In response to David’s "disability problem" letter, I state the following facts:
David called the Festival office two weeks before opening, stating he was adding a kitten to his costume that would ride on his shoulder and was told "no" by my staff.
He then called me before a preview party to tell me he was bringing a cat out that he was training and I told him "no."
He then brought a "service cat" to the Festival, complete with a laminated card on his collar that said "service animal."
When asked what service the animal performed, he said he was hypoglycemic and that the animal told him when his blood sugar was low.
When asked where the animal was trained as a service animal, he said he had trained it himself.
When asked where he was trained to work with service animals, he said he trained himself.
Since all three answers do not conform to Texas Human Resources Code 121.002 which states:
1. "Assistance animal" means an animal that is specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability and that:
a. Is used by a person with a disability who has satisfactorily completed a specific course of training in the use of the animal (Person is trained"; and
b. Has been trained by an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities as reputable and competent to provide animals with training of this type. (dog is trained)
c. "Person with a disability" means a person who has a mental or physical disability, including mental retardation, hearing impairment, deafness, speech impairment, visual impairment, or any health impairment that requires special ambulatory devices or services.
During my conversation with David, the cat was groaning, writhing, scratching and hissing, at which point I informed him that I was in fear of my safety and the safety of my patrons and that the animal must leave.
In quoting the HRC, David also left out 121.006 which states:
a. A person who uses an assistance animal with a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained assistance animal when training of the type described in Section 121.002(1)(B) of this chapter has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200. (Faking that it’s an assistance animal is a criminal offense.)