School Service Dog Fight

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Friday, January 7, 2011 - 10:16am

Virginia boy fights for right to bring his epilepsy service dog to school with him.

12-year-old Andrew Stevens waited patiently in the Fairfax County School Board hearing room. It’s part of a protest over Andrew's service dog, a five-year-old German Shepherd named Alaya. She wears a magnetic collar that sends electronic impulses that help control the seizures he experiences, as many as 20 times a day.

Andrew says "my name is Andrew, I have epilepsy."

The Fairfax County school system initially banned the dog claiming Andrew is not quote: an appropriate handler for Alaya. After a public outcry, the school system agreed to a two week trial with the stipulation that Andrew's father, an Army Sergeant, be with him all day. That requirement will be nearly impossible for this working family to meet.

Andrew’s father Angelo says "he's been an inspiration to me as his father, and my wife as his mother. It has brought epilepsy, the one thing many people don't like to talk about, into the light and out of the shadows."

The Stevens family is getting legal help from the Epilepsy Foundation.

A represenatative of the Epilepsy Foundation says "it's not about bringing a regular animal into the classroom. It's about bringing a highly skilled service dog that's trained to help people with that disability."

Among those that rallied to Andrew's support, another student with epilepsy.

The student says "this is on the news, this is on TV. I am so impressed that my disease, I don't even call it a disease, a part of me is coming out and into the light."
 

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