When it comes to recognizing whether a person has a disability, most people in the state of Texas think that if a person looks healthy then they must be healthy. But this isn't always the case, especially for people with mental conditions. That was where one Iraq War veteran ran into trouble after he was kicked out of a San Antonio store. His story is a perfect example this week of why you can't always judge a book by its cover.
The man was kicked out of the store because he had brought his service dog in with him. Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, his small terrier service dog helped him to overcome his disability. But because the store did not consider the breed to be a service dog and because the police officer was not aware that the man's disability was protected by federal law, he was ultimately removed from the premises.
State Representative Jose Menendez saw this as a considerable problem. "The police officer was not aware of what the federal laws were, and because there isn't anything on state statutes, there was nothing he could point to," he explained recently in an interview. But he changed that recently with an introduction of a bill that makes it clear to police that no person or service dog can be discriminated against in the state of Texas. Failure to comply with the law can result in legal consequences.
Although this story is further proof that we as a society still have a long way to go when it comes to informing the public about mental conditions, it does illustrate the fact that there are people out there who are trying to do just that.
Source: KVUE News, "New state law to protect veterans with PTSD service dogs," Kris Betts, June 7, 2013