CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Allie Denelsbeck has a hereditary connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS).
According to the Ehlers Danlos Society, EDS is a group of connective tissue disorders that can be inherited and are varied both in how they affect the body and in their genetic causes.
They are generally characterized by joint hypermobility (joints that stretch further than normal), skin hyperextensibility (skin that can be stretched further than normal), and tissue fragility.
Because EDS has life-threatening symptoms, Allie felt as though she needed a service dog in order to feel safe on her own.
Without Allie’s service dog, Chevre, she wouldn’t be able to complete half of her daily activities. Chevre is responsible for two main tasks: retrieval and mobility.
Symptoms Allie faces that are either daily or life threatening:
- Chronic dislocations with up to a dozen or more daily
- Severe anaphylaxis
- GI tract paralysis/intestinal edema
- Autonomic nervous system failure
- Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome (POTS) both POTS and the autonomic failure are forms of dysautonomia
- Bladder dysfunction
- Neurological cognitive dysfunction/pupil dysfunction
Going out in public can be a stressful situation for Allie. She has to prepare for strangers coming up to pet Chevre or being told she can’t have her dog inside a building.
Under the ADA, businesses that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go.
Frequently asked questions about service animals and the ADA:
Q1: What is a service animal?
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Q2: What does “do work or perform tasks” mean?
The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability
Q3: Are emotional support, therapy or comfort animals considered service animals under the ADA?
No. They aren’t trained to do specific tasks and only require a doctors note.