Ask An Animal Lawyer: How can I get active for animals and become an advocate in my own city?

Ask an Animal Lawyer

By Elizabeth Holtz, Animal Legal Defense Fund

I’m thrilled to answer your question, thank you for asking. While most of us deeply love our companion animals, millions of animals still suffer in the United States. From puppy mills to factory farms to egregious acts of cruelty against animals that go unpunished, we have so much work to do.  

A good first step is to connect with local groups in your area that are already working on animal issues. It’s as easy as going to Facebook and searching for “animal” plus your state. You’ll likely find either a state chapter of a national organization or local groups working on a wide variety of issues. Sign up to join their email lists, and you’ll be alerted when legislators are considering animal protection bills. You can also join the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s action alert list at

When asked, take action! Send an email, or even better, call your city, state, and federal legislators and urge them to protect animals by supporting positive (or opposing negative) bills. Other ways you can get involved are by attending protests (outside of a pet store that sells puppies or a roadside zoo, for example), volunteering at animal shelter, or fostering.

Want to take your advocacy to the next step? Work with your city or county legislator to enact an ordinance to protect animals – many animal control issues are handled at the local level. While lobbying at the state and federal level is important, it can be daunting for a single person. That’s often not the case in your hometown! I’ve met many people who single-handedly worked with their city council or county commission to pass an ordinance (the term for local laws).  Legislators at this level are usually much easier to contact. Especially in smaller to medium sized cities, you can simply pick up the phone or send an email and schedule a meeting for as early as next week. All you need is determination and background knowledge of the issue.

This column is too short to discuss all the laws that you might champion, but retail pet sale bans and protections for animals in cold weather are a few ideas to get you started.  Retail pet sale bans prohibit pet stores from selling puppies, kittens, and sometimes other animals, that come from breeders. Virtually all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, large-scale breeding operations where profit is more important than the animals. A retail pet sale ban requires pet stores to only offer dogs and cats from rescue groups or animal shelters – animals in desperate need of homes. Retail pet sale bans have taken off in the last decade with hundreds of cities and counties enacting them. As a result, California and Maryland recently became the first two states to pass similar laws at the state level. This is a great example of how change starts locally. These state laws likely wouldn’t be possible if smaller communities hadn’t taken the first step.

Protecting animals in cold weather isn’t a matter of comfort, it can be life and death. Dogs and other companion animals aren’t equipped to survive in low temperatures. They can quickly get frostbite and even freeze to death. Ordinances that require people to bring companion animals indoors when the temperature drops below a certain level (or in weather emergencies) are critical. Every year we receive reports of dogs freezing to death. In some cases, neighbors had complained or reported that a dog was left outdoors in extreme temperatures, but animal control was either powerless to act (or declined to). Clear ordinances – animals must be brought in if it drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, for example – are easier to enforce and thus more effective.

I hope these ideas help you get started in your mission to get active for animals. There are so many other areas you can get involved in at the local level – anti-tethering ordinances, bans on circuses with wild animals, ordinances protecting pit bull terriers – these two suggestions are just a start. Good luck!

As Campaigns Manager for Animal Legal Defense Fund, Elizabeth Holtz is grateful that her work allows her to educate people and empower them to speak out on behalf of animals. She earned her undergraduate degree at Pomona College in 2007 and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband Teddy, two rescue Chihuahuas (Alvin and the Colonel), and four rescue cats: Ripley, Prometheus, Jabba the Catt, and Pinguino.

As Campaigns Manager for Animal Legal Defense Fund, Elizabeth Holtz is grateful that her work allows her to educate people and empower them to speak out on behalf of animals. She earned her undergraduate degree at Pomona College in 2007 and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband Teddy, two rescue Chihuahuas (Alvin and the Colonel), and four rescue cats: Ripley, Prometheus, Jabba the Catt, and Pinguino.

House members say “no” to horse slaughter


The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund released a statement applauding the 218 Representatives — constituting a majority of the US House — who have signed on as sponsors and cosponsors of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to bring an end to the export and slaughter of American equines for human consumption. With broad bipartisan support, the bill aims to protect our nation’s equines from the cruel and predatory horse slaughter industry, which is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Americans, enriches a tiny handful of profiteers and places all equine companions at risk. 

“We commend these federal legislators who have taken a stand with most Americans who view our horses as partners in work, recreation and sport, and as cultural icons for the crucial role they’ve played in our nation’s history,” said Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the HSUS. “With a bipartisan majority supporting the bill, we urge House leadership to put the SAFE Act on the suspension calendar for a vote soon, and the Senate to follow suit.”

Dogs in Hot Cars — and Their Rescuers —Get a Break

Attitudes & laws, are changing

If you’ve never felt the one-two punch of heat and humidity in the south, it knocks you out, even in short sleeves. 75 degrees feels like 85, and any space without ventilation becomes an oven — fast.

That’s why Desert Storm veteran Michael Hammons broke the window of a parked car in the lot of a south Georgia shopping mall one hot May morning when he saw a small Terrier mix panting frantically inside.

The dog’s owner did not appreciate his intervention. She insisted the police file charges and Hammons was arrested. Though the charges were later dropped, the incident sparked a conversation about the need for “dogs in hot cars” laws to protect people who try to help them.

Georgia currently only sheilds citizens who break into cars to free people in distress — but that state’s southern neighbor recently went further.

Hot state, cool law

In March of this year, Florida signed into law House Bill 131, which grants private individuals immunity from civil liability for damage incurred in the course of rescuing unattended people or animals in distress. Florida became one of only three states with such a law; Wisconsin passed its version in November 2015, and Tennessee has amended a similar statute to include domestic animals.

“This bill flew through,” says Kate McFall, Florida State Director of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). “It was a good common sense bill that addressed both vulnerable people and animals, and kudos to the sponsors — they did a great job.” Indeed, including humans in the bill was key to its passage, according to McFall.

“If this had just been an animal bill, it may have had a bit more opposition here in Florida, because of the very conservative legislature,” she says.

While the Florida law does protect good samaritans from civil liability, certain steps are required before breaking a window: in addition to believing an animal or person is “in imminent danger of suffering harm,” they must also make sure the vehicle is locked, call 911, make reasonable effort to find the owner, and use no more force than necessary to enter the vehicle. 

Though it may seem inconceivable that just three states have laws protecting so-called “hot car heroes,” consider that only 20 states have statutes specifically prohibiting leaving a companion animal in a parked car under certain conditions. What makes the Florida, Wisconsin, and Tennessee laws different is that they specifically protect non-law enforcement individuals who damage property in an attempt to help a distressed animal.

It’s getting hot in here

He’s looking at you, his whole back end wagging. He sees the keys in your hand and knows you’re going somewhere. “C’mon boy,” you say, and he bounds happily to the car with you, jumps in, ready to go. It’s a sunny day, only about 70 degrees. It feels good on your bare skin.

You stop at the store. You’ll just be a minute, so you crack the car windows and head inside.

20 minutes later, your dog — the one wearing a fur coat who has no sweat glands except on his feet — is panting heavily and drooling. The temp in the car is near 90.

A half hour has passed, and your vehicle’s interior has now reached 105 degrees. Your dog is starting to panic: pacing, whining, clawing at the doors to get out. Trying to breathe through that barely-open window.

If your dog is lucky, someone has noticed his distress and called 911.

“Yes, we as an agency have started taking those calls,” says Randall Brown, Chief Field Supervisor for Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS). “We’re coming into that time of year and it’s a pretty big topic. We’ve already pulled one hot dog out of a car, and we’ve had quite a few calls that have come in.”

In fact, by the end of the area’s relatively mild summer, Brown expects his officers and local law enforcement will have responded to more than 300 calls about dogs overheating in parked cars.

“Here you do have to watch out for sunny days,” cautions Brown. “People say ‘I’m gonna take my dog and run to the grocery store.’ But your car is an oven, and the animals are panting in the car so they’re breathing out hot air, which raises the temperature as well. It’s very dangerous.”

Both animal control officers and police respond to dog in hot car calls, depending upon location. Either way it’s important the caller stay on site to monitor the animal.

“Don’t leave,” says Brown. “That’s another big problem. We get there and the caller is gone, because they don’t want to chance [a confrontation] if the owner comes out. And that makes the animal really difficult to find, especially in a big parking lot.”

Hot under the collar

Not surprisingly, most owners are defensive when confronted about leaving their dog in the car. However, Brown says if the pet is not in acute distress when officers arrive, they can take the heat off the animal and the situation.

“Typically, if the animal doesn’t die, it’s going to be animal abuse in the second degree, a Class B Misdemeanor in Oregon,” he explains. “But most of time if we’re able to get the animal out of the car and cooled off, we can do some owner education. Some people just don’t realize how quickly a car heats up.”

Getting an overheated dog out of a locked vehicle has also recently become easier for Oregon and Washington’s animal control officers, thanks to new laws passed in both states.

“As of January, [Oregon] Senate Bill 614 was signed, allowing us to breach a window if an animal is in distress,” says Brown. “Prior to that, we had to call in law enforcement to pop the window.” Washington’s recently passed bill has a similar provision.

Still, neither state has a law or proposed bill to protect private citizens from arrest or liability if they bust a window to free a pet from a hot car. But the most important action people can take to save a pet from vehicular heat stroke doesn’t involve damaging property at all: turn on Animal Planet, and leave your dog at home.

If you find a dog in a hot car

  1. Check the locks. Authorities often arrive only to discover the vehicle unlocked.
  2. Call 911 or animal control. An officer should be quickly dispatched.
  3. Attempt to find the owner. Go inside and have the owner paged with car description and license plate number.
  4. DON’T LEAVE. Officers need help locating the animal; the animal needs to be monitored to ensure an accurate report.
  5. If the owner returns before officers arrive, try to get them to stay. Explain your concerns as nicely as possible and let the officers take it from there.

Symptoms of heatstroke

All dogs pant, even in cooler weather. However, heavy panting with drool, dark tongue and gums signal urgent concern.

Dogs are unique, just like people. While some seem lethargic or unresponsive when in distress, others get restless. In later stages of heat stroke, a dog may vomit, have bloody diarrhea, lose coordination, or go into seizure. A dog’s body temperature can rise rapidly; a consistent high temperature can cause organ failure.

Flat-nosed dogs like Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, and Pekingese — are at GREAT RISK of heat stroke at much lower temperatures than other breeds. 

Michele Coppola is a veteran Portland radio personality, copywriter and freelance writer who shares couch space with her dogs Ginny and Bailey, Roxy the a cat, as well as Bryon, the stray man she married eight years ago.

Chicago passes anti-puppy mill ordinance

The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits obtained through large-scale breeding operations in March.  Pet stores will still be able to offer animals to customers, but the pets must come from shelters or rescue groups.  Chicago aldermen passed the ordinance 49 to 1, signifying a growing trend toward legislation that supports animal welfare.  The Chicago ruling follows similar laws put forth in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and 43 other communities throughout the nation.

BREAKING BAD: Washington County’s Award Winning Animal Protection Team

Kahlua at Washington County Animal Services in 2008. Photo courtesy of KATU.

Kahlua at Washington County Animal Services in 2008. Photo courtesy of KATU.

The police found her bloody, bruised, and cowering in a corner of the garage.  The man of the house literally had blood all over his hands.  Eventually, Brandon Nagy was convicted and sentenced to jail.  His victim has started a new life, and while she has healed physically, she will always bear the invisible scars of being attacked, kicked, and thrown.

As this is a pet magazine, you’ve probably correctly surmised that the victim in this case was a dog.

One of the saddest truths about this story is that the object of such horrific abuse could just as easily have been — and often is — a person.  Animal abuse and domestic violence are tightly linked.  But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that, in Washington County, justice and solutions to these crimes became linked as well.

Whitney Kubli was a regular volunteer at the Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter in 2008 when Kahlua, the brutalized Pit bull seized from Nagy’s garage, was brought to the shelter.  In addition to her other injuries, Kahlua’s tail was so mangled it had to be amputated. 

Kubli, who at that time also worked as a victim advocate at the Washington County District Attorney’s office, says she was well aware of the connection between domestic violence and animal abuse.  She was often the conduit through which the DA’s office would get updates on animals involved in criminal cases, including Kahlua.

Fostered and then adopted through Indigo Rescue, Kahlua is now a beloved pet and a Canine Good Citizen!

Fostered and then adopted through Indigo Rescue, Kahlua is now a beloved pet and a Canine Good Citizen!

“She was at the shelter for nine months while the case was pending,” says Kubli.  “[Kahlua] actually ended up spending more time behind bars than [Nagy] did.”

It was that injustice, as well as other high-profile abuse and neglect situations involving both pets and people, that motivated Kubli to explore whether Washington County’s various law enforcement, social services, and animal services agencies were open to working as a team on the issue.

A Breakthrough Idea

Debbie Wood may look like your favorite perky auntie, but make no mistake:  she’s a warrior for pets.  As the Animal Services Manager for Washington County, Wood has overseen a renaissance of sorts at Bonnie Hays — and she was more than enthusiastic about Kubli’s proposal.

“Whitney basically took the concept of a multi-disciplinary team that already existed for other kinds of serious situations — where they cross issues of social service and law enforcement —  and said there should be an animal multi-disciplinary team,” says Wood.  “It made instant sense to me because it was about solving a problem.”

How have things changed since the creation of the Animal Protection Multi-Disciplinary Team (APMDT)?  Wood explains the answer to that question has several parts.

“One side of what we do is the domestic violence side.  One of the first things the MDT did was work with Monika’s House shelter in Washington County and made it pet-friendly.  It is one of only three domestic violence shelters in Oregon that are pet-friendly, and the only one in the Portland Metropolitan area.”

Another big piece was getting a full-time veterinarian at Bonnie Hays.  “Part of the exam in a potential abuse or neglect case is a forensic exam,” explains Wood.  “[The veterinarian’s] job is to be an objective evidence collector, and be ready to testify in court.”

The largest, most effective aspect of the APMDT is education and sharing of resources.  Wood says animal services, law enforcement, and social services now know what to look for when out on a call, so it’s easier for multi-victim abuse crimes to be identified, prosecuted, and hopefully, stopped.

“There have been some informal situations before where they’ve had animals,” says Wood.  “But what the APMDT has done is make it clear, make it a process, make everyone aware of what to do and how to do it to make animals safe.”

Deborah Wood with Calvin

Deborah Wood with Calvin

A Way to Break Free

Imagine someone wanting to hurt your beloved dog or cat, maybe even kill it.  Chances are you’d throw yourself between the attacker and the animal without hesitation.  That’s what happens in many domestic abuse situations with pets in the home.

According to Red Rover, a nonprofit providing funds for pets in crisis, it’s estimated that up to 65% of domestic violence victims delay or refuse to leave their abusers for fear of what might happen to their pets if they go.

Monika’s House is Washington County’s shelter for those fleeing domestic violence.  As a result of the APMDT’s work, the shelter now has five outdoor kennels for housing dogs, and is working to obtain funding for an indoor shelter to accommodate cats and other smaller animals.

Kendra Moon, Day Advocate at Monika’s House, says that opening the shelter to animals empowers those in abusive situations to leave and get help.  “Particularly for survivors, it’s important that they be able to maintain the relationship with their pet.”

Wood adds that it’s often that bond, between the human victim and their animal, that makes an abuser target the pet.  “They use it to control, they use it to hurt.  I mean, what would hurt you more than hurting your animal?  The abuser gets that.”

Those at risk who don’t seek refuge at Monika’s House are encouraged to find alternate housing for their animals, such as a boarding kennel or with friends and family.  But if that’s not possible there are other options, thanks to the efforts of the APMDT.  The Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter or one of its partnering nonprofits will provide safe harbor for an animal if there is no alternative.

What excites Moon the most is the increased awareness the APMDT has brought to all parties involved.  “There’s lots of training and outreach for first responders to look further in and see if there’s also child abuse, or if a child has witnessed animal abuse.”

Whitney Kubli with Misio

Whitney Kubli with Misio

Breaking The Cycle

The Animal Legal Defense Fund states that an abused pet is often the first visible sign that a family is in trouble.  About a third of domestic violence victims report that their children have already hurt animals.

“Kids who just witness animal abuse are more likely to become violent offenders and harm people in the future,” says Kubli.  “There’s a huge connection there.”

So strong is the link that the State of Oregon has passed a law making animal abuse a felony if committed in the presence of a minor.  This is another part of the APMDT mission — to prosecute offenders and interrupt the vicious cycle created and reinforced by their actions.

“Officers know that when they’re pursuing these things they’re going to make a difference,” says Wood.  “They know how to properly collect evidence for these cases, and they know there will be consequences for the bad guy.  Since the establishment of the [AP]MDT, we have a hundred-percent conviction rate, with at least half of those people doing some jail time.”

But halting the perpetuation of abuse doesn’t end with convicting offenders.  One participating organization, doing the important work of helping affected minors, is “The Little Dog Laughed,” a therapy program founded by Linda Keast that gives children tools to interact with animals in positive ways.

Earlier this year, the efforts and success of the APMDT were recognized by Washington County’s Vision Action Network, which presented the group with the prestigious Cameron Award.  The honor is given to organizations and individuals that epitomize a commitment to solving problems by collaborating with multiple sectors of the community.

Wood was thrilled to see the APMDT get recognition.  “What the Cameron Award did is a big deal.  It shines a light on the great things that have been done by people on the front lines.”

That said, it’s clear that everyone involved in the APMDT is even more gratified by its success in helping animals — including the woman who first proposed the idea.  “I hope it will inspire other counties to form MDTs and take action,” says Kubli.  “Here we are, three-and-a-half years later, and I think it’s getting better each year.”

Wood agrees.  “Instead of animal protection being a sad black hole, we’re winning,” she says, her eyes sparkling.  “We’re winning!” 


 Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio.  When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter. 

DIVORCE — Who Gets the Dog?

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In the summer of 2004, I pulled out of the driveway of the home I’d shared with my soon-to-be ex-husband for five years.  Tears streamed down my face, and although I had three canines nervously panting in the back of my SUV, all I could think about was the one I was leaving behind:  a seven-year-old Staffordshire Terrier named Ginger that my ex and I had rescued together.  Our separation and subsequent pet division had been bitter; it was likely I would never see her again.

Similar scenarios play out everywhere all the time, and households with pets aren’t any less likely to suffer through a divorce or break-up.  What is different these days is the way we view our animal companions—more often than not as members of the family.  In line with this, our pets have become a hot-button of contention when marriages and partnerships dissolve.

“People being concerned about their pets, especially in the Portland Metro area, seems to be something that we encounter pretty frequently in a divorce,” says Paige DeMuniz, family law attorney with Gevurtz Menashe.

But if you think the court will consider your pet’s feelings and lifestyle when deciding who gets ownership, think again.  Max may sleep in your bed and know you better than your ex, but to the court he’s still just property.

“This means a monetary value will be attributed to the animal and the pet will be awarded to one party,” says DeMuniz.  “Basically, the law says we divide pets in the same way we divide the dishes and the furniture.”

The court can, however, take into consideration which spouse or partner’s name is on adoption papers, vet records, and licenses — a good reason to make sure both owners appear on the original documents involving an adoption or purchase.

Also, when minor children are involved, the pet is often awarded to the parent with primary custody.  However, this is usually done to benefit the kids or in the name of equitable property division rather than what’s best for the animal.

Still, court-awarded ownership will not resolve all the issues if both parties want to continue to have a relationship with the pet.  A judge doesn’t have the authority to grant visitation, financial support, or any directives for future care.

Don’t hesitate to mediate

Paige DeMuniz

Paige DeMuniz

Before Tara McMillan* and her husband legally divorced, they agreed he would keep the couple’s two dogs and four cats—with the proviso that if at any time he could no longer care for them, the pets would go to her.

“They could stay in their own home with someone who loved them and could afford them — not with someone who could barely make ends meet living in a little apartment,” McMillan says.  “Walking out was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  The dogs were at the door and knew what a suitcase meant.”

When her ex later decided that the herd was indeed too much to handle, McMillan was given the option of taking them back because she and her ex had discussed the future of their animals before physically splitting up.  Planning ahead — informally, or with the help of a mediator — can make things exponentially easier for you, your pets, and (assuming it matters to you) your former partner.

“I would definitely recommend mediation,” DeMuniz says.  “That’s probably the only way to seriously talk about an issue.  The parties could also put in a prenuptial agreement — or in any sort of written agreement between them — what would happen to the animal should their relationship dissolve.”

And while a verbal understanding worked for McMillan and her ex-husband, DeMuniz strongly advises that any decisions between parties be documented in order to be enforceable. 

Steven May and Winnie

Steven May and Winnie

Making it work and moving on

So you’ve debated and mediated and are ready to start again.  Unless your dog or cat is staying in the same home with most of the same people, a divorce can be almost as hard on fur kids as it is on children.

Steven May, a veterinary consultant and co-author of the book What About Wally: How To Co-Parent A Pet With Your Ex, says the most common mistake people make is not considering all the changes a pet will go through when a relationship ends, especially if there’s joint “custody.”

“You have to acclimate them slowly,” says May.  “In the beginning, you want to travel with the same carrier, same blanket, same feeding bowls, same toys.”  May also suggests that the pet’s routine — just like a child’s — should be kept as normal as possible.

“If they’re fed twice a day, if they’re in a training program, all that should continue with both spouses,” he says, stressing that consistency in the latter is especially important. 

“If you’ve gone through a long period of training with your pet, and one stops the training and one continues, it is the worst thing that can happen.”

May also urges pet parents moving a pet to a new residence to have a plan of action should the pet get lost or run off.  Implanting or updating a microchip is a great start, as is having a list of the local shelters and veterinarians.

One thing May is adamant that pet owners NOT do, no matter the situation:  animals should never be used as pawns to get back at an ex.  “Just like children . . . it’s going to be the pet who suffers.”



Unless your pet is unsafe with your former partner, it’s always to the pet’s benefit to have that person remain in his/her life if you can work it out.  May suggests keeping in mind why you got the pet in the first place.  “If there was a love for that pet, love to share, then there’s something good deep down between both of you,” he says. 

That shared mutual affection for a dog was on my mind when I finally did see Ginger again.  Two years ago my ex-husband passed away and I immediately made the five-hour drive to get her.  A year later, at the age of 14, she died in my arms.  Despite the divorce, it seemed we both ended up being lucky in love.  

*Name changed

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Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio.  When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter. 

Anti-Tethering Ban gains traction in Oregon


Animal advocates are encouraged by recent developments in the Oregon legislature regarding a bill aimed at prohibiting people from tethering dogs for excessive lengths of time.  HB 2783 passed the Oregon House of Representatives by a vote of 46 to 13 April 10.  Sponsored by Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), the bill is the result of months of work by local law enforcement agencies and several animal advocacy groups, including The Humane Society of the United States, Oregon Humane Society, Fences For Fido, and the Oregon Animal Council.  At press time the bill was on its way to the Oregon Senate.  Follow its progress at

Putting a Leash on the Leash Law

After months of dark, cold, rainy days, Portlanders have finally begun to enjoy a little sunshine and the great outdoors, something we hold dear. 

I began a recent sunny Sunday with an early morning run at Powell Butte Nature Park.  I was thrilled to run in the cool morning air, enjoying the sight of Mt. Hood, Adams, and St. Helens.  While reveling in the view on my last trip down, my sense of peace was suddenly shattered. 

Department of Justice clarifies definition of Service Animals

Harold Hansen helping a student at his "Heeling Free" Dog School in EugeneHarold Hansen, owner and operator of “Heeling Free” Dog School in Eugene, contacted Spot recently to share an article he published recently in a human-focused medical publication.  He felt — and we wholeheartedly agreed — that the information was important to share with all those who work, live with and love dogs.  The article was originally created for physicians after Hansen received a call from a dog owner who said she wanted her doctor to write a letter saying she needed a “Service Dog.” She said her doctor wasn’t certain about the guidelines, so Hansen did the homework and learned that the definition had recently been clarified to read:

“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go.”