[blindkid] Fwd: Article

Carol Castellano carol.joyce.castellano at gmail.com
Fri Aug 19 12:15:43 UTC 2011

This is a good one!

Carol Castellano
Director of Programs
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
carol_castellano at verizon.net

>Subject: Article
>Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 13:12:58 -0400
>Doctor bars guide dog from waiting room
>PhillyBurbs.com, August 11, 2011­By: Christian 
>Menno, Staff Writer Calkins Media, Inc.
>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.”
>Pamela L. Gaston
>NJ State Department of Human Services
>Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
>153 Halsey St. 6th. Flr.
>P.O. Box 47017
>Newark, NJ 07101
>Office: (973) 648-6149
>Cell:    (973) 900-2564
>Fax:    (973) 648-2043
>"Life is a succession of lessons which must be 
>lived to be understood." - Helen Keller

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