Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Written Statements

Progress has been made. UNMH spoke with my sister and I yesterday, I love you speakerphone, and they agreed to sensitivity training for their staff as well as service animal training that encompasses a non dog program. I am going to be working with Service Animals and the Law. They have experience with this process.

After this long conversation where we kept having to point out that yes we were right, and had to slog through a lot of simpering apology with the undercurrent of please do not sue us, we're sorry, we got another call, this time from the rather hard to get ahold of UNM police. They get their very own incompetent police. We were asked by a sergeant to come and make a written statement. I dislike written statements on only one scale, my hands hurt by the time I am done. Caissa and I headed down and as we drove up we saw an officer looking for someone, he headed in. It turns out this was our sergeant, awaiting our arrival. It took us two hours, eight pages for me and nine for her, and a good deal of carpal pain and side effects of reliving the ordeal before he read the complaint and said, "I think this is out of my jurisdiction so I will be giving this to the Chief." The hospital is also contacting the UNMPD police chief, since their operators stonewalled us. I included that in my complaint. Poor Sprite was alerting before we were half way through. Bad chairs, bad pens, and bad lighting had us both hurting.

At least this is progress, I will post more as we find out what else will happen. Neither facility was pleased to discover that I am going to the Department of Justice with my complaint anyway, neither facility understood why I would do this. I am doing this because they will keep on screwing over the disabled with their fear tactics. Apparently a very pregnant friend of mine is fighting her own battles,when she is due any day. Her own hospital is trying to refuse treatment. They too will be suffering the wrath of Advocates.

I know I have continually said this in the few short days of having a blog and will continue to repeat it, but advocacy is one of the most important things that a person can do for them selves. Self advocating is more powerful than having someone advocate for you except in the circumstances where you would be detrimental to the message.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Discrimination by the Government

I went to the pharmacy last Thursday, with my older sister, we went to the 1209 Clinic with University of New Mexico Hospital, so that we could pick up prescriptions. The security guard stopped me and told me I couldn't take Sprite inside and I said yes I can, she is a service animal, went in and sat down. I was using a cane and Sprite for balance since we weren't going to be long. I was sitting down for at least five minutes when the security guard came over and told me to leave, stating that Sprite could not be in there because she is not a dog. He also said he had called animal control to come and have her taken away from me. I called the cops on the pharmacy but the cops sided with UNM instead of following the law. I called the cops because the pharmacy was violating the ADA and several statutes of Title 3, the umbrella of public access. The police wrongly sided with the pharmacy and I was told it is MY responsibility to have ID for sprite, which is wrong, and that I should carry the law around with me, which is also wrong.
These statements go against the Federal Law. I went outside when asked, but, they weren't listening to me at all and so I started repeating myself that the federal law superceeds local and state, and that they were breaking the law. The security guard, before the police had arrived had gotten in my face and yelled. I was embarrassed by this but I tried to keep my cool. When outside there was no where to sit and I stated I was dizzy and they insisted I go down some stairs when I said that the ramp was too long while my head was spinning. I refused to go down the ramp and after about fifteen minutes the security guard got me a chair. Sprite, my service animal, did her job during this time. One of the things she does is help me balance and she also warns me about dizziness and fainting as I do not always feel it. She held me up and continued to alert until I was sitting, then she helped me sit up straighter, but was quiet.

At this point one of the cops yelled at me because I kept repeating myself since he refused to look up the law. I couldn't make him but, I stated it, and told him when, where, and how he could verify it. He called his supervisor in frustration, and I called a fellow service animal advocate. I was told at this time that it is perfectly acceptable to insist I sit outside, and that if I re-entered the building I would be arrested. I considered the choice then and decided to discuss this with my sister. I also asked herto contact the media. At this point there were four police cars and five police plus the security guard hovering. People were staring, watching, and quite a few offered me their support. At least half of them stated that they admired my standing up for myself and the law. At least four people stated they no longer tried to enter the pharmacy with their service animals, because it is so stressful and traumatic. Some of them were willing to trade contact information so that we can help one another. Some were afraid that they could be in trouble if they did.

The Supervisor arrived and the first thing he asked me was what my disability is, which is invasive and also violates the same laws. Violating these laws is a federal misdemeanor, which was the only thing that kept me from crying. Crying wouldn't help me and they would have enjoyed it. I told him that I have a broken back, and his response was "Oh, so you are so fat your back broke." I did not yell, but, he continued to berate me for knowing the law. Again he was in my personal space. I am well aware that the goal was to make me give in, to threaten me, and to try and make me go away.

After Caissa, my sister, got the medication they told us we could leave, since I had no reason to go back inside. Caissa and I both said at the same time, "What about the restroom, or a drink of water?" and she sat down beside me. My advocate arrived with a Lawyer and disability advocate, both of them interrupting dates just to come and help me. Despite the invasion of personal time were both pleased with what I was doing and my fellow advocate stated she had also had trouble but had not felt secure enough to fight UNM yet. The security guard and cops had tried many different tactics just to try and intimidate me, and being physically vulnerable I considered running several times. The thought that kept me from doing so was the idea that if I left I couldn't go back, and maybe someone else who had no voice or talent for trouble could not enter. I stayed. Caissa called the media though no one was interested. Next time, I will go to jail. This was agreed upon between my sister, my lawyer, my advocate and myself. Sprite will go with Caissa or my fiance if he is there, since I would not want to risk her saftey while fighting for my civil liberties.

Jail is a risk, since, they will likely illegally deprive me of my pain medication and may try to keep me from using my walker or my scooter, which I will be using out of the house forever now. The cane is just for the house I think. Just in case. Jail will be humiliating, painful, but it will be worth it. I was disgusted, exhausted, and disgruntled but I am in shark mode and I smell Blood in the Water. I am going to at least have a mark on the record of one cop because he mocked me, but Annoying Bald Cop is at risk of losing his job. All of them mocked me but this one mocked my disability, and to me that adds to what I percieve his crimes are.

Sprite was frightened during this entire time, and she shook for a bit of it but she also got very angry. Despite her anger she did not attack them, and she has a tendency to do that when people scare her. The last person who scared her like this had his car peed on. She has also peed on people's shoes in similar situations. She proved her training, her dedication and her value ten times over today. It is not allowable for a service animal to bite, pee, claw, or growl even in that situation and it has been difficult assessing her progress in that realm.

On Friday I started making phone calls and I learned that the local ADA offices which can take care of advocacy with businesses cannot effect government entities and that I have to go to the Department of Justice. I called them on Monday, as I found this out after four hours of calls and at Five PM, the end of the work day. I waited until ten my time, which is Noon in Washington DC, and am now waiting on a packet to file the complaint. I am certain that I will have to write out exactly what happened.

A few pointers for those of you who may end up in this situation, prepare first. If you have an alternative service animal it is more likely to happen, but even a dog is often rejected as you know. Carry paper and a pen with you. We wrote down their badge numbers and names, but we should have written down a description. That makes it easier when you have to recall which person said what later. I wish I had realized that before hand, but, I will recognize their faces and can point at a picture and say, "That is bald annoying cop who mocked me more than the rest." Be prepared for the entire department to know what happened. When we made our calls we tried to start with a supervisor at the local PD, and the operator had us on hold for an hour before he told us what we were calling for. He knew what it was from just my name. This is very disconcerting, and it undermines my ability to call upon them in a time of need. Fight for your rights, it is up to you how far you will push, but, have someone to call in case you need moral, physical, or emotional support. Any person is more likely to run from a situation where they feel threatened when they are alone. I also recommend carrying a copy of the letter that the ADA has on their website. You can find that by clicking this link, or googling the department of justice and service animal.


Hello out there in cyberspace. This is my first time trying something like this, but, it seems like a good way to get some attention to my causes, though it could also fail miserably. My name is Kat. The main reason I have decided to Blog in regards to activism and service animals is simple, I am tired of being discriminated against and it was something proactive or something destructive.

Recently I hit the figurative wall on how much discrimination I will allow, and it did not take much. Being threatened by the police illegally for trying to pick up medication has put me on the warpath, so I am going to hopefully share ideas, resources, tips, and information with others. This blog will contain legal information but any ideas or advice you follow with in this blog is up to you, it is your choice and I am not legally liable for the concequences. The main body of that information will be the law itself, changes to the law, loopholes in the law, and how to follow these laws. All of the laws addressed will be in relation to persons with disabilities, and most likely service animals.

My service animal is an Egyptian Mau/Abyssinian cross who was rescued. I often joke that my rescue cat rescued me. I have multiple disabilities, though they are all physical, and my cat and I have adapted a system to deal with them. Yes, you really can train cats. They are independent creatures, and this may make them the wrong candidate for a service animal for some people, but, I am not one who likes constant contact and I am at times unable to physically even touch my cat. I have a broken back, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare connective tissue disorder which in my case causes extreme tissue fragility, joint mobility etc etc. My back is not treatable and both conditions together have caused a great deal of degeneration.

It all sounds sad, to some people but I prefer to fight to keep myself active and independent. That is another reason for this blog, by forcing legal compliance with in the government, businesses large and small, and the world at large I can still do what I need and want by myself. I am not isolated but it is nice to have something other than please and thank you to say to other people. I am cutting myself short here, I am a ranter as you can see, but I hope to learn with you. I am learning, my cat is always learning, and I hope above all else to make the world a more equal place. We can all learn from one another, so, lets smash that champagne bottle on the Good ship Pawseverance!