Legal dispute erupts over denied autism service dog request

dogDurban, South Africa – The mother of a young boy with ASD has entered into a legal dispute with the trustees of her apartment complex over their refusal to allow her family to obtain an autism service dog.

Shelly Ann Foote is a stay-at-home mother providing full-time care for her seven year old son Conrad who often has temper tantrums and has at times, engaged in self-injurious behaviour.

After learning about the effectiveness of autism service dogs in helping to mitigate the often debilitating symptoms that stem from ASD, Foote contacted the South African Guide Dogs Association. As a result, she submitted an application in order to obtain one of their trained canines.

However, management at her apartment complex refused her request prompting Foote to file an affidavit at the Equality Court citing discrimination and the infringement of her son’s constitutional rights. Foote argues:

“As a tenant who pays for the use and enjoyment of the rental property, I am fully entitled to be treated with the same dignity and respect as owners of apartments.”

While the case works its way through the local court system, Foote remains on the Association’s waiting list in hopes of eventually obtaining a service dog for her young son.

The original article by Mervyn Naidoocan be read in the IOL news here