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An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  The Gauntlet
 

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letters, opinions, editorials

Signpost welcomes letters of all opinions. Letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations. Anonymous pen name letters will not be published. Attach your name and contact information. Send to: Signpost, P. O. Box 889, Placitas, NM, 87043 or email@sandovalsignpost.com.


re: tailgating

Yesterday [November 16], brought us our first snow of the season, and I witnessed an example of rude and dangerous driving. At around 4:00 p.m., a black car was traveling a little slowly going east on Highway 165 with another grey car following extremely close to the first. At times the grey car was less than a car’s length behind the first car. I observed this scenario from in front of the Merc through the village until the driver of the second car pulled over at the mailboxes at the intersection of Highway 165 and Camino del Tecolote.

What was that tailgater thinking? That tailgating would make the first driver go faster? No, it will only scare the first driver. Did the tail-gating driver ever stop to think that her behavior was stressing out the first driver, which could have resulted in a bad, two-car accident? I doubt it. It appeared her only motive was to intimidate the first driver.

 I’ve been behind slow moving cars on snowy roads, and it can be frustrating, but tailgating them isn’t going to “fix” anything. All defensive-driving classes teach the perils of tailgating and to do so on snow-covered roads is just plain stupid and extremely dangerous.

Our winter weather driving has just begun. Some of us are accomplished winter-weather drivers, and others aren’t, but all of us have a right to drive on our roads and slowing down during inclement weather is the safe thing to do. Come on fellow Placitas residents. Let’s be courteous and kind instead of rude and offensive to our neighbors and leave plenty of space between you and the slow moving car in front of you. You’ll get home safe; the other driver will, too.

Sincerely, Sandy Army, Placitas


re: the “service dog” trend

The other day, I was standing in line with my service dog at the grocery checkout, when a man who I knew came up behind us, pointed down at my service dog, and asked me—“Where can I get one of those?” My first thought was that he meant the service dog, and so I replied with a question of concern. I didn’t know that you had a disability? He replied, “No I’m fine. I wasn’t talking about the service dog, but where can I get a service dog vest? I already have a dog, and a well-behaved dog.”

He went on to explain that he traveled a lot, and it would be so much more convenient to be able to take his dog with him wherever he went. I then explained that under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Federal Law, service dogs are reserved for people who meet the legal definition of ‘disabled.’ I told him that service dogs should be trained in obedience, to perform tasks that mitigate aspects of the disabled handler’s disability, and be Public Access trained and tested. These are necessary to be in compliance with ADA requirements and the Minimum Standards set for all service dogs with Public Access. To my surprise, he replied, ”That’s not fair!”

As a disabled person with a service dog with public access, I run into this type of thinking a lot. And, it makes me wonder, if wheelchairs were as trendy (in the mind of the public) as ”service dogs” are now, would a lot of people be using wheelchairs, whether they qualified for one or not? I realize that much of the public’s reaction and comments come from a lack of understanding the law concerning service dogs and the disabled handler’s rights. But, this “trend” to buy a vest and misrepresent a dog as a service dog with Public Access is in violation of Federal Law (ADA) and unknowingly subjects the person to heavy fines and/or imprisonment. An individual that misrepresents himself as being “disabled” in order to take his dog into public, is not only in violation of Federal Law, but it’s just not cool!

I wish that we lived in a world where everybody could bring their pets everywhere with them, but because of Public Safety issues, as a society, we can’t. In order to protect the public, service dogs must be public access trained, obedience trained, and most importantly, trained to perform tasks to meet the disability-related needs of their handler. All of this training, in addition to the ADA Federal Law, is what gives a disabled person the right to have a service dog in public and at the same time protects public safety.

But, what protects me and my service dog in public from the latest “trend” to bring your dog to work? My service dog and I have been attacked four times in public by someone’s pet dog that was off leash when walking into their perceived territory (a public place of business). Pets do not have Public Access Rights. Yet, I have to carry an attack deterrent to protect myself and my service dog when I go to my doctor appointments, shop in stores, and go into business offices. I never know when someone’s pet dog is going to react in a negative way to the presence of my service dog.

My intention in writing this article is to create public awareness regarding service dogs, the ADA laws and requirements, and a sensitivity to the challenges that a disabled person faces when encountering non-legitimate “service dogs” and pets in public.

—Angel Rose and “Isabeau Addison” (service dog)

 
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