[nagdu] observations concerning Doctor bars guide dog from waiting room - phillyBurbs.com

Michael Hingson mhingson at sbcglobal.net
Thu Aug 11 21:56:55 UTC 2011

I am not the moderator, but I think this list is open to anyone who is interested in knowing more about guide dogs, not just actual guide dog users.

As far as this actual topic of discussion I do not think the doctor's actions can be condoned in any way.  We all use techniques to function and live.  People with eye sight use lights to function in an otherwise not lighted world.  Some of us who are blind use guide dogs which the law of the land has deemed to be allowed to accompany their handlers anywhere the public can go.  The doctor had NO right to deny access to a blind person who happened to use a guide dog.  Make no mistake the doctor was not denying access to a guide dog, but rather the handler as defined by any legal definition anyone wishes to use.  The handler's civil rights were violated.

I have been using guide dogs for 47 years and find that usually any issue can be worked out including dog and people coexisting in a small space.  People's emotions, and people's allergies do not trump guide dog and guide dog handlers' access.  The legal precedent is clear.


Mike Hingson

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-----Original Message-----
From: nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of d m gina
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:56 PM
To: nagdu at nfbnet.org
Subject: Re: [nagdu] Doctor bars guide dog from waiting room - phillyBurbs.com

Hi there,
Since you don't have a dog and wish not to get one from this message, 
why are you here on this list?
I understand the stand you took and yes you did the correct thing, 
still want to know why you are on the list.
Is this list now open to anyone who wishes to come?
If so I understand, if not, then what is going to happen to Rebecca, 
would she pleased be asked to be removed?

Original message:
> You know, this is part of why I don't have a dog.
> My daughter had a sore throat that was impacting her ability to eat. It 
> is called kissing tonsels and she needed to be seen right now.
> I am glad I didn't have a dog to deal with.
> It's fine to say "I'll see somebody else" but what do you do when you 
> or your child needs to see somebody right now.
> My little girl was so sick and so hungry. It was horrible. She was 
> hungry but couldn't swallow food and she had a high fever. Truly awful to see.
> How as a mom (or dad) would you feel if a doctor gave you that crap?
> My daughter was a toddler at the time. There's no way I could have just 
> said "Okay sweetie, go on in there and I'll chill out here"

> Have other parents been in that situation? What have they done about it?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On 
> Behalf Of Sherry Gomes
> Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 2:56 PM
> To: 'NAGDU Mailing List, the National Association of Guide Dog Users'
> Subject: Re: [nagdu] Doctor bars guide dog from waiting room - phillyBurbs.com

> I had an opposite experience with a doctor of mine once, a very 
> positive experience.  when I lived in san Diego, I had an orthopedic 
> surgeon for my joint replacement surgeries.  He was really good and 
> always seemed happy to see my then golden retriever guide dog.  one 
> day, before I went to the back office for the appointment, the front 
> office staff took me aside, and told me privately that the doctor had 
> terrible dog allergies.  They said he loved dogs and never wanted to 
> tell me about the allergies, so they never had.  but this particular 
> day he was having trouble in general.  They asked if I would mind 
> leaving her with my friend in the waiting room for this one time.  I 
> didn't mind, actually, and I had my appointment.  The doc asked where 
> my dog was, and I explained.  He thanked me.  But the next appointment, 
> my dog went into his office with me, as she always had done before.  It 
> was only the one time they asked me to let my friend hold her, and they 
> wouldn't have argued if I'd insisted on taking her in with me.

> On the other hand, if I went to a doctor's office that refused to see 
> me or my partner or spouse or child or whatever, cart blanche, because 
> of my dog, I would find a different doctor and be filing complaints.

> Sherry

> -----Original Message-----
> From: nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On 
> Behalf Of cheryl echevarria
> Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 12:46 PM
> To: NAGDU Mailing List, the National Association of Guide Dog Users
> Subject: Re: [nagdu] Doctor bars guide dog from waiting room - phillyBurbs.com

> This was also posted on my guide dog school alumni list.

> I think it is appalling how this all turned out.

> Whether there were other patients or not I go to my doctors office 
> probably more then others, I see at least 4 doctors a few times a year, 
> and some are smaller than other ones. I only had to put my foot down 
> once as well, he was from another country, but my doctor recommended 
> him, and was in the building right next door.

> The Staff where he worked which was part of Stony Brook University 
> Hospital Clinics here on Long Island.  They I had a right to be there, 
> the dog had a right to be there. He said well he can't see me then, I 
> said fine, I will just go next door to the Head of the Transplant 
> Department, and tell him he wouldn't see me because I have a guide dog.

> Let's just say, we found me another doctor in the same office to see 
> me, and that doctor has moved on.

> Not much they can do. Yes they do.  They also have to determine if that 
> is the kind of doctor they want to deal with as well.

> Leading the Way in Independent Travel!

> Cheryl Echevarria
> http://www.echevarriatravel.com<http://www.echevarriatravel.com/>
> 631-456-5394
> reservations at echevarriatravel.com<mailto:reservations at echevarriatravel.com>

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>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: Ginger Kutsch<mailto:GingerKutsch at yahoo.com>
>   To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog 
> Users<mailto:nagdu at nfbnet.org>
>   Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:38 PM
>   Subject: [nagdu] Doctor bars guide dog from waiting room - phillyBurbs.com

>   Doctor bars guide dog from waiting room - phillyBurbs.com

> http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/courier_times_news/breaking_news/doctor-bars-guide-dog-from-waiting-room/article_2bb1009f-5a51-5350-bb2f-6783c4767b5a.html<http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/courier_times_news/breaking_news/doctor-bars-guide-dog-from-waiting-room/article_2bb1009f-5a51-5350-bb2f-6783c4767b5a.html>

>   Doctor bars guide dog from waiting room

>   By Christian Menno

>   Staff writer

>   Thursday, August 11, 2011

>   ?A guide dog for a visually impaired Bensalem man was kicked out of a 
> local doctor�s office, but the doctor said she had the right to do so.

>   But, according to a lawyer and advocate for the disabled, the Lower 
> Southampton doctor�s actions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

>   �You cannot exclude service animals except in very specific 
> situations,� said Rocco Iaculla, an attorney with the Disability Rights 
> Network of Pennsylvania. �Unless the animal is out of control or not 
> housebroken or someone nearby has a severe allergic reaction, you must 
> permit them in any area that the public is permitted. It has to be more 
> than someone feeling uncomfortable with an animal present.�

>   Dr. Priya Punjabi argues that it is her right to determine who enters 
> the property and that a large animal could scare or upset her patients.

>   On Aug. 4, Joseph Cichonski accompanied his wife, who was scheduled 
> to receive a physical, to Punjabi�s office at 1629 Bridgetown Pike.

>   As he does whenever he leaves his home, Cichonski, 58, brought his 
> guide dog Hero, a Labrador-golden retriever mix.

>   Cichonski said Hero was lying calmly at his feet in the waiting room 
> and Cichonski�s wife was waiting to be treated in the examination room 
> when the doctor approached him, saying that pets weren�t allowed in the 
> office and telling him that he had to wait outside.

>   �I told her that it�s not a pet, it�s a guide dog, but she still said 
> I couldn�t have him in there,� Cichonski told the newspaper. �How many 
> pets do you know that can be declared on your federal income tax forms?�

>   Cichonski, who said he sees only a little light and shadows, said he 
> then stepped outside the office because he didn�t want to cause a 
> scene, but not before informing the staff that he was calling the 
> police to file a complaint.

>   �I could have just sat in that chair until the police arrived,� he added.

>   He said his wife was told she wouldn�t be treated while the dog was 
> in the office. So she left, too.

>   Cpl. Michael Wojnar of the Lower Southampton Police Department 
> arrived and went inside to speak with Punjabi, Cichonski said. He said 
> the officer was friendly and helpful and told him that a report would be filed.

>   On Wednesday, Wojnar said that a complaint had indeed been filed. He 
> added that if the newspaper wants to see the report, a right-to-know 
> request must be completed because the matter is civil, not criminal.

>   Punjabi told the newspaper that the dog had occupied a large portion 
> of the floor space in the small waiting room. The room holds just seven 
> chairs for patients, she said.

>   While no other patients were there at the time, she said that two 
> walked into the waiting room just as the situation with Cichonski was 
> unfolding.

>   Punjabi said that a Bensalem woman who arrived later that morning to 
> accompany her 90-year-old mother for an appointment heard the story and 
> agreed with the doctor�s decision. Punjabi said she asked that woman to 
> put her feelings in writing and provided the newspaper with a copy of 
> the letter Tuesday.

>   The woman, who asked that her name not be published, said that while 
> she loves dogs and respects all disabled people, she would not have 
> felt comfortable having the dog in the room with her mother.

>   �My mother has liquid bones and is very frail,� she added. �I would 
> have been afraid the dog might have bumped into her, causing even more 
> injuries.�

>   Punjabi, who said she is afraid of dogs, added that her request was polite.

>   �We simply asked him to step outside,� she said. �I have my rights 
> and my phobias, too.�

>   Iaculla said that Cichonski handled things correctly by staying calm.

>   �Unfortunately, there�s not much you can do in a situation like 
> that,� he added. �I�d recommend contacting an organization (like the 
> Disability Rights Network). Hopefully, the agency can contact the 
> doctor�s office and try to get a dialogue going to explain the laws and 
> how to handle a similar matter in the future.�

>   Cichonski said Wednesday that he�s exploring his options.

>   �I�m not trying to cause a fuss,� he added. �I just want to let 
> people know that things like this are happening and I�d like to prevent 
> them from happening to other people with disabilities.�

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