Dear GDUI Members and Friends,
Hurricane Harvey and Its Aftermath: We are writing tonight to assure all of our members and friends who are suffering because of the terrible flooding and other damage that have been caused by Hurricane Harvey that we want to help in any way that we can.
As you may know, GDUI has a fund available to GDUI members who may need financial assistance in caring for your working guide dog as a direct result of a natural disaster such as this. Learn about the GDUI Disaster Assistance Planning and Preparedness Program (DAPP) on our home page here: http://guidedogusersinc.org/ or call our Office Manager and Secretary, Sarah Calhoun, on our toll-free number here: 866.799.8436.
We have heard anecdotally that some people with service animals have been told – mistakenly – that emergency shelters cannot accept service animals. This is untrue! Here, from the U. S. Department of Justice, the federal agency charged with writing regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act – and enforcing those regulations – is an official explanation of your civil rights as a person with disabilities who depends upon a guide dog to accommodate your needs:
“The Department of Justice continues to receive many questions about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to service animals. The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities that have a “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities. … Similarly, service animals may not be prohibited from communal food preparation areas, such as are commonly found in shelters or dormitories.”[From: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html]
And, should emergency shelter administrators need to know more about their obligations to provide shelter for you and your guide dog, please refer them to this information and this link for the official word from the U. S. Department of Justice:
“Access for All in Emergencies and Disasters
One of government’s primary responsibilities is to protect residents and visitors. Providing emergency shelter during disasters and emergencies is a basic way of carrying out this duty. Shelters are sometimes operated by government entities themselves. More commonly, though, shelters are operated for the state or local government by a third party – often the American Red Cross. Regardless of who operates a shelter, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally requires shelters to provide equal access to the many benefits that shelters provide, including safety, food, services, comfort, information, a place to sleep until it is safe to return home, and the support and assistance of family, friends, and neighbors.
- In general, the ADA does not require any action that would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity or that would impose undue financial and administrative burdens.
- This Addendum discusses some of the key issues that emergency managers and shelter operators need to address in order to comply with the ADA when they plan for and provide shelter during emergencies and disasters. Although this Addendum focuses primarily on issues affecting shelter residents with disabilities, these issues are also generally applicable to volunteers and employees with disabilities.”
For those of us who cannot personally lend our hands to help, making financial donations may be the most tangible way we can offer assistance at the moment. Both Amazon.com and Apple.com provide links for contributing directly to the American Red Cross, and here’s the link provided by the American Red Cross, themselves: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey.
If you prefer, you can contribute via phone, here: 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669). You can also reach the Hurricane Harvey relief effort at:
TDD Operator: 1-800-220-4095.
As the rains continue to fall and the storm ultimately defines a new and possibly equally dangerous route, we will keep all of you and your guides who live along the Gulf Coast, in southern Texas and Louisiana in our thoughts and prayers. As always, thank you for your friendship and your support, and be safe!
Penny Reeder, President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Deanna Noriega, First Vice President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
GDDUI Website: http://www.guidedogusersinc.org/
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