Created: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 05:20:00 EST
Updated: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 11:45:08 EST
A Warner Robins mother says a local Girl Scout troop is violating her daughter's right to have their service dog present at troop functions.
Her daughter, Elisabeth, 8, is a Type-1 Diabetic and has been a scout for at least four years. Due to her diagnosis she is often accompanied by her service dog, Zeppelin.
"He went everywhere she went with girl scouts," said Elisabeth's mother, Carolina Davies. "He's able to let us know if she's dangerously low or if she's high."
The 75-pound Golden Retriever normally accompanies Elisabeth to troop meetings on Robins Air Force Base. Due to recent changes to the family's schedule, Carolina began searching for a new troop closer to home. She found one just down the street, but there's a problem. Since a scout is reportedly scared of dogs, Zeppelin would not be allowed to attend meetings.
"I repeatedly went back and forth with that troop leader about the law," said Davies.
When it comes to service dogs, the Americans with Disabilities Act states that fear is not a valid reason for denying access to people using service animals.
Davies said she understands that fear can be an issue with children and was willing to work with the troop to introduce Zeppelin and help rid the fear of the dogs. Carolina says her offer was declined.
The girl scouts responded by placing Elisabeth in a different troop, about an 18 mile round trip.
Davies said the change is a major inconvenience since her husband, who is an air force pilot, is currently stationed in at Maxwell Air Base in Montgomery, Alabama.
The couple also has a son with special needs, he also depends on Zeppelin's training. Davies says she makes three trips to the doctor every week for her son alone, plus additional trips for activities that Elisabeth is involved in since she is home-schooled.
Elisabeth says she hopes the scared scout could meet Zeppelin and put her concerns to rest.
"he'll be nice to you, he looks scary but he's a nice dog."
WGXA spoke with representatives from the Girl Scouts of Central Georgia who offered the following statement.
"Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia places a high value on diversity and considers it a privilege to serve girls of all backgrounds and experiences. When matching girls with troops, we consider the girl’s age, reasonable proximity to the area in which the girl lives or goes to school, the experiences of the troop as a whole, and the needs and experiences of each individual girl member. In the best situation, girls coming together to form a new troop grow up together and build lifelong friendships. In a girl-led culture supported by caring adults, girls set the norms for their new troop and develop a baseline value system based on the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
Making reasonable accommodation for girls with disabilities is a natural outgrowth of the value Girl Scouts places on diversity. We feel confident that reasonable accommodation has been made in this troop assignment and that the result will be a positive one for everyone involved."