SD taken away from man

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Postby TheRedQueen » February 6th, 2011, 3:59 pm

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/7053 ... anger.html

SALT LAKE CITY — A snowboarding accident changed his life nearly 5 years ago, but thanks to a service dog, Dr. Gael Yonnet got his life back.

Then last week everything changed. That's when the organization that partnered him with Elon, a yellow Labrador retriever, took the dog back, saying Yonnet's lifestyle and job were endangering the animal.

Now there's an online petition to reunite the two.

See all 3 photos | Click to enlarge
Gael Yonnet,
Dr. Gael Yonnet pictured with his service dog, Elon, in December of 2009, was paralyzed in a snowboarding accident in 2006 while he was a University of Utah medical student. In 2009, he received a service dog from Canine Companions for Independence. But the organization took the dog away from now Dr. Yonnet because he allows the dog to run off leash in the mountains. Yonnet received Elon in August 2009 from the Canine Companions for Independence. The organization provides highly trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities, free of charge. The organization said after a two-week training program, the participant is given "custody" not "ownership" of the dog.

"You do get depressed at times," he said, "and having the constant companionship of the dog, and he knows when I'm sad, and he knows what I need. It's really comforting."

Since he got Elon, Yonnet regained the active lifestyle he had before he got hurt. He said Elon helps him at home and at work. With the dog's help he went mountain biking for the first time last year and in October 2010 he was able climb the top of Snowbird with Elon by his side.

"When I look back over the last 18 months of my life, he has always been a part of my life, so he's a part of me," Yonnet said.

Yonnet, who is a senior resident at the University of Utah hospital's neuro-rehabilitation department, said Elon also gives his patients hope. He said patients see that it's possible to live a full and active life.

But recently, his life became much harder. CCI met with Yonnet and Elon, for what he thought was a normal follow-up visit.

"They said, actually, 'Thanks for taking the whole day off, but we are just here to take custody of the dog for his own safety.'"

Yonnet said he was upset, holding Elon and crying. "I stayed 10 minutes holding him, and they said, 'If it's easier, we can call the police to take him from you.'"

"It’s extremely rare for Canine Companions to ask for a dog to be returned from a team," said Jeanine Konopelski, spokeswoman for Canine Companions for Independence, said in a statement sent from their headquarters in Santa Rosa, Calif. "We’ve had many conversations and visits with Dr. Yonnet to help resolve numerous safety issues over the past year. We finally had to intervene to ensure the dog’s health and safety."

The statement did not comment on the online petition.

Yonnet said he understood their concern, especially after hearing the dog was not on a leash at all times.

But he claims Elon was never in danger. "He was off the leash, and I agree to that, and I apologize, but he was never in danger. I would never allow that."

The organization said, in a written statement, that over the past 35 years, it experienced the loss of 53 dogs due to traffic accidents and being off leash. It said that was why it placed restrictions on dogs.

"If all it takes for me to get my baby back is to put him on a leash, then I will do it," he said. "It's an easy solution. I just want my baby back."

For now Elon remains in a California kennel.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 6th, 2011, 4:08 pm

Oh, forgot to add. I completely side with CCI on this one...the guy broke the rules, they warned him, he didn't listen and now he's crying to the public. Not much sympathy for him. A dickhead in a wheelchair is still a dickhead. I've met many of them.
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"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby mnp13 » February 6th, 2011, 4:13 pm

wow...

"If all it takes for me to get my baby back is to put him on a leash, then I will do it," he said. "It's an easy solution. I just want my baby back."

Then why the hell didn't he do it after the meetings that I'm guessing are well documented by the SD group?

But he claims Elon was never in danger. "He was off the leash, and I agree to that, and I apologize, but he was never in danger. I would never allow that."

Well THAT pisses me off. Because if the dog is running loose, you have NO CONTROL over if it is safe or not. I know if his off leash SD ran up to Riggs to "say hi" then he sure wouldn't have been "safe."

What a sad situation.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 6th, 2011, 5:00 pm

I agree with CCI as well. It would be different if they had taken him away without any warning, but sounds like there was more than discussion about it. I feel bad for the guy and the dog, but just because you're disabled doesn't mean you're entitled to anything.
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Postby Tubular Toby » February 6th, 2011, 5:01 pm

mnp13 wrote:wow...

But he claims Elon was never in danger. "He was off the leash, and I agree to that, and I apologize, but he was never in danger. I would never allow that."

Well THAT pisses me off. Because if the dog is running loose, you have NO CONTROL over if it is safe or not. I know if his off leash SD ran up to Riggs to "say hi" then he sure wouldn't have been "safe."

What a sad situation.


This. I used to get so tired of when I worked at a pet store that clearly states pets must be leashed and people would come strolling in with their dogs off leash. Said dog would usually be running up to other dogs as the owners shopped, hardly even paying attention. Or they looked on with a smile saying that he just loves to meet other dogs.

I take Toby out in public even though he is dog reactive on a leash (it's something we are working on constantly) and he's almost always well behaved and doing his best to ignore another dog. If that dog runs right up to him, there's not much I can do about it.
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Postby tiva » February 6th, 2011, 6:26 pm

Dr Yonnet did indeed sign a contract, which is scanned and uploaded here:
http://mylifeatspeed.com/my_life_at_speed/?p=984

The contract did NOT require the dog to be kept on leash at all times in public; the contract required Dr. Yonnet to abide by local leash laws, which he did. He did not break the contract.

Clearly, I don't know enough about the situation to judge who was right and who was wrong. Because I also do fairly intense mountain sports, with my dogs off leash (which I think is safer than having them on leash in those situations--that's part of why I use an ecollar), my tendency is to think the organization was wrong. But my point here is that none of us know enough to judge Dr Yonnet or the organization.
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Postby mnp13 » February 6th, 2011, 7:41 pm

Statement of responsibility – (from Dr. Gael Yonnet)

Statement: My name is Gael Yonnet and my service dog Elon was taken from me last Saturday by CCI representatives because they believed he was in danger with me. I am guilty of not having Elon on a leash at work (and I work in a hospital which is a public place) and also while up in the mountains last summer and fall. I thought it was good for him to be able to run beside me on mountain trails to exercise. I only had the best intentions in mind. I meant no harm. I made a mistake and am taking responsibility for it; I broke the leash rule that mandates that CCI dogs must be on a leash at all times while in public places. Elon had permission from the forest service to be off leash in the mountains and no local laws were broken. He was only off-leash in off-leash parks, in the mountains and at work and occasionally in grocery stores if I carried a lot of groceries and couldn’t hold the leash. In all these instances, ELon was right there with me, as if he had been on a leash.


He seems to have known about the rule. And saying that his "hands were full" is kinda stupid. If he's in a chair, he can hook the leash to the chair.

I feel bad, but his own statement seems to say that he broke the rules because he felt like it. Now he regrets it, but isn't it a little late for apologies. Kinda like "it's easier to beg forgiveness than ask and be told no." By his own admission he knew about the rule.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 6th, 2011, 8:49 pm

But doesn't the DOJ require SDs to be on leash while working? That's what I had thought. So he broke that by not having him on leash while working...because he admitted not having the dog on leash while in stores and in the hospital where he worked...visiting patients.

He also put an electronic collar on the dog while in the mountains...which was against the policy, from what I have gathered. And if the dog needs the e-collar, even just on "beep", then it's not suitable to be running loose.

As a SD trainer that has seen dogs been mis-used or taken away because of the client...it pisses me off that so many people are bad-mouthing CCI. We had a dog come back to the group I used to volunteer with...because the client kept the dog in a too-small crate 24/7 and never used the dog for its job...luckily that dog got taken back and given to another person.

As for not enough info...he's scanned his contract, which states that he has to stick to the CCI standards for safety. I haven't seen yet the "rules"...only the contract, which does not state it explicitly.

But saying "sorry" after you've done things repeatedly just doesn't hold water with me.
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"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby Malli » February 6th, 2011, 9:49 pm

I don't have any sympathy for him, they wouldn't take the dog back unless they thought it was necessary.

I think its highly distasteful of him to make it a public situation.
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Postby mnp13 » February 6th, 2011, 10:05 pm

Malli wrote:I think its highly distasteful of him to make it a public situation.


He's doing it to try to force their hand - because they are being mean to a guy in a wheelchair. :rolleyes2:
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 6th, 2011, 11:02 pm

mnp13 wrote:
Malli wrote:I think its highly distasteful of him to make it a public situation.


He's doing it to try to force their hand - because they are being mean to a guy in a wheelchair. :rolleyes2:


Exactly why this is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. John may have his issues...but he does NOT play the sympathy vote.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 6th, 2011, 11:24 pm

From the DOJ/ADA:

(4) Animal under handler’s control. A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal´s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler´s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).


Which is fine, except if they gave this dog to him to work on-leash...and they didn't set it up for him to work the dog off-leash. I got the feeling that he just likes the dog to be off-leash...not that he HAD to have the dog off-leash.

http://www.iaadp.org/doj-def-comments-T ... II-SA.html
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby DemoDick » February 10th, 2011, 11:52 am

Typical example of someone with an entitlement mentality doing whatever they want and then bitching when there are consequences, and subsequently exploiting a disadvantage (in this case legitimate) to gain sympathy.

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