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Denison ISD won't let service dogs dress up for graduation

by DAVID SCHECHTER

WFAA

Posted on June 19, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 19 at 8:55 PM

The use of service animals is protected under federal law. Two students say those rights were violated when the Denison Independent School District ordered them to remove the caps and gowns their service dogs were wearing for graduation.

Katie Brashier's dog, Shots, alerts her to oncoming diabetic attacks.

"It's not that he's graduating, because he's not; I'm aware of that," she said. "But I would not be graduating without him."

Shots has worn a variety of doggie outfits to school functions this year, including his standard service dog vest; a theater club vest; a homecoming tuxedo; and even a drum major vest.

But wearing a cap and gown to graduation was one dog costume too far.

"I'm making a stand about this, because I don’t want other people with service dogs to go through the same harassment and bullying that both of us went through," said Kamry Ross, whose dog Nike alerts her to oncoming seizures.

When word got back to the district that these two best friends planned to dress up their dogs up for their walk across the stage, the district warned them not to.

"You know the school really cannot dictate what the dogs can and cannot wear," Ross said.

"Yes we can," says the district.

Denison ISD Superintendent Dr. Henry Scott declined an on-camera interview, but said the young women were defying the principal’s decision. He said school police were ordered to remove the students if they didn't remove the dogs' gowns.

Ross and Brashier eventually complied and everyone walked — dogs included.

"It wasn't the gown so much, but that was the only thing that I had there that said he was a service dog," Brashier explained. "That's important to me, because if I have the general public coming and trying to pet him and love on him, he's not going to be able to do his job."

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