Hi all FB & Blog friends…
This is an extract from the recent SA Guide Dog Association’s news
A lovely read about how well trained dogs can be massive help to an
Autistic person. Read on…
The fight for Conrad’s right Written by Shelley Foot.
My story began in February 2014 when I discovered that South
African Guide-Dogs for the Blind was training Autism Support Dogs.
These dogs are trained to assist a person in order to help them
gain independence. They assist in bringing down anxiety, prevent
wandering in children and also provide companionship in an often
We live in a lovely complex on the North Coast of Durban. The
complex is a sectional title with a no pet policy. One could
apply for consideration should exceptional, mitigating
circumstances exist. I decided to apply for permission to keep an
Autism Support Dog.
The board of trustees decided that Conrad would not be allowed to
keep a dog in our complex. I was shocked and angry at the
decision. I was told that if I didn’t like the ruling, I should
move. As a mother of an autistic child who faces numerous
challenges on a daily basis, I certainly would not be taking this
I knew that my child’sconstitutional rights were being violated.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was also
being violated. I knew these things but how was I, a Mom with no
legal background, going to face the trustees with these laws?
My sister began an online petition and the press was alerted to my
case. Our story featured in a couple of newspaper articles. The
feedback I received was so positive and reassuring; I knew that I
was doing the right thing.
Autism South Africa heard about my plight and informed me that an
advocate was prepared to offer his services to me pro-bono.
At the complex’s AGM a new board of trustees was voted in. I
decided to reapply for permission. The trustees lawyers agreed
that neither the Sectional Title Act nor the rules of the complex
supersede our Constitution and we won the case.
You might ask why I went through the lengthy process of legal
battles when I could easily have moved. I refuse to allow people
and society to dictate as to where or when my child may be because
of his autism. I refuse to step aside because he was born
different. Lorenzo, our beautiful Labrador Retriever arrived on 5
Since Lorenzo’s arrival, our lives have been enriched by that which
only a Labrador Retriever can do. Conrad is sleeping in his own bed
for the first time and is becoming more independent by the day.
Lorenzo helps with bridging that gap between Conrad and other
children. We have had many children coming to talk to Conrad
because they are interested in Lorenzo; this on its own makes my
son feel accepted and special.
Conrad is happy and we are looking forward to a long and joyful
journey with Lorenzo as part of our family.
Blogger Barry: I hope Shelley’s wonderful story emphasises the
huge value these special dogs make in a “Diffrently abled” persons
Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed. Please
share if you like. Til next time.