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Florida senate discuss legal status of seizure support dogs

8 April, 2002

An initiative by Florida State Senator Anna Cowin which would grant the same legal status to seizure support dogs as other dogs trained to assist people, such as guide dogs for the blind or partially sighted, has been discussed in the state legislature.

"Experts have said that these dogs appear to know when a seizure is going to occur and give the victim, as well as those around him or her, advance notice of a possible episode" said Senator Cowin.

There are currently no provisions in Florida law that specifically addresses seizure disorders. Currently, a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, someone who is totally or partially blind or with a physical disability may be accompanied in to public facilities by a guide or service dog that is trained for that purpose.

Florida law currently states that anyone who barred from a public facility to someone using a service animal will be subject to criminal prosecution with the maximum penalty for each violation is 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. If signed into law, the bill will provide the same penalty to anyone who denies admittance to those with seizure disorders as well.

Senator Cowin added:

"By affording citizens with seizure disorders the right to enter public establishments with these guide dogs, we are giving these people safe mobility and encouraging them to carry on with their lives with the same dignity and accessibility afforded to all citizens in our state."