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Have you ever worried about the police or animal control coming to confiscate your beloved therapy or service dog?


February 25, 2009 | TheDogPress.com

David Arthur, Features Writer


MIA, A TRAINED SERVICE DOG FOR MRS. BYRNELos Angles County Animal Control came to the home of Dawn Martinez-Byrne. Three times, between February 11th and the 13th, Mrs. Byrne found herself face to face with California’s latest rendition of animal control.


Mrs. Byrne, who suffers from a form of epilepsy, depends on her Standard Poodles Mia, Mercedes, and Bandy to alert her to oncoming seizures. All three are trained service dogs, and all three are licensed with the county. Or at least she thought they were.


According to the Los Angeles County Code, altered pets may be licensed for $20, and unaltered pets for $60, however there is a one-time $5 registration fee for service dogs. Mrs. Byrne had previously purchased permanent tags under the exemption.


On this day, the animal control officer told Mrs. Byrne that there was no exemption for seizure dogs, and that she would have to pay the full licensure fee, and that all three dogs had to be altered. When Mrs. Byrne corrected the animal control officer concerning the law, she was told such a provision didn’t exist for her dogs.


“The officer who has been here said that there is no service dog recognized by the county except guide dogs and police dogs,” Mrs. Byrne explained.


In fact, the section of the County Code stated on their exemption application does include that a: “Service Dog” is a guide dog or seeing-eye dog . . . , a signal dog or other dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.


The ordinance continues: To qualify for an exemption as a Service Dog, the dog owner must provide documentation satisfactory to the Department that certifies the dog in question is a qualified service dog and the dog must have a service dog license with a completed affidavit.


As for the one-time permanent licensure, the County’s animal control code clearly states: Permanent exemptions, such as permanent medical waivers, law enforcement dogs, and service dogs do not need to be renewed.


So are Mia, Mercedes, and Bandy legitimate service dogs? According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), a copy of which Mrs. Byrne handed to the officer: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.


And as for the Officer’s assertion that seizure dogs required local certification, the Act stresses that: If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.


When Mrs. Byrne pointed out the federal law, she was told that if she didn't pay immediately, they would seize the dogs, have them fixed, and she would then pay $840 plus the cost of spaying.


David ArthurShe stated further, “The County refuses to recognize them (but) the federal government says that they are protected service animals. Los Angeles County says they don't have to listen.”


So what is the present situation concerning Mrs. Byrne and her Poodles?


Will this ordeal come to a beneficial end for Mrs. Byrne, Mia, Mercedes, and Bandy? We wait and worry because Mrs. Byrne says simply, “March 19th, I get to go to court and demonstrate to a judge that the county is violating Federal law.”



License Please – The Saga Continues - Mrs. Byrne depends on her three service dogs to alert her to impending seizure. Despite federal law, LA Animal Control threatens seizure of her dogs!

Animal Control & Seizure Dogs - Mrs. Byrne Speaks Out!



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