A Baltimore city paramedic crew is in hot water over their treatment of a blind veteran and his service dog after the man was struck by an auto.
Curtis Graham, Jr., a Vietnam Vet, was on his way to the Veteran’s day parade on November 11, 2011 when the injury occurred. Graham claims that city paramedics refused to transport him with his dog.
Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Maryland state law prohibit discrimination against a disabled person with a service animal. Service dogs are allowed to go anywhere that a person can go. That means anywhere – including restaurants, airplanes, hotels, theaters, and – yes – ambulances.
This is from the Maryland Code, Title VII:
(a) The following individuals have all the same rights and privileges conferred by law on other individuals:
(1) a blind or visually impaired pedestrian using a service animal …
(2) a deaf or hard of hearing pedestrian using a service animal …
(3) a blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing pedestrian using a service animal in a place, accommodation, or conveyance listed in § 7-704(b) of this subtitle; and
(4) a service animal trainer who is accompanied by an animal that is being trained as a service animal.
Mobility impaired individual accompanied by a service animal
(b)(1) A mobility impaired individual may be accompanied by a service animal specially trained for that purpose in any place where a blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing individual has the right to be accompanied by a service animal.
(2) This subsection does not require a physical modification of any place or vehicle in order to admit a mobility impaired individual who is accompanied by a service animal. …
Extra compensation prohibited; liability
(d)(1) A blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or mobility impaired individual who is accompanied by a service animal specially trained for that purpose in a place, accommodation, or conveyance listed in § 7-704(b) of this subtitle may not be required to pay extra compensation for the service animal, but the individual may be liable for any damages to the premises or facilities caused by the service animal. …
(e)(1)(i) A person may not deny or interfere with the admittance of a service animal that accompanies a blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or mobility impaired individual in violation of this section.
(ii) A person who violates subparagraph (i) of this paragraph is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500 for each offense.
(2)(i) A person may not deny or interfere with the admittance of an animal being trained as a service animal that accompanies a service animal trainer.
(ii) Subject to subsection (c)(2) of this section, a person who violates subparagraph (i) of this paragraph is subject to a fine not exceeding $25 for each offense.
§ 7-704. Rights of individuals with disabilities
(a) Individuals with disabilities and the parents of a minor child with a disability have the same right as individuals without disabilities to the full and free use of the roads, sidewalks, public buildings, public facilities, and other public places.
(b)(1) Individuals with disabilities and the parents of a minor child with a disability are entitled to full and equal rights and privileges with respect to common carriers and other public conveyances or modes of transportation, places of public accommodations, and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to any conditions and limitations of general application established by law.
Graham has filed a complaint with the US Justice Department, and the Baltimore City Fire Department has launched an investigation. Incidentally, most states have a law similar to Maryland’s law that allows service dogs to go anywhere their master goes. The laws generally extend to all service animals, including USAR canines, police service dogs, arson dogs, and dogs for the visual, hearing, and mobility impaired.
If nothing else this story should prompt a brief training module on service dogs to be added to EMS training programs.
11/29/11 5:30 pm. The story was updated a few minutes ago when 2 Baltimore FD officials visited Mr. Graham to apologize, and assure him that additional training will be provided to all personnel on the proper treatment of service dogs.