Saturday, April 4, 2009

Meeting with Supervisors

By request, here is the summary of the meeting with the supervisor of "Ranger Rick."

For a re-count of the incident that lead to the need for this meeting, click here.
To read a response to my description of the access issue and understand more from another's
perspective, click here (Thank you so much, Peter).

Okay, on with this saga:

The supervisor of badge heavy, ignorant, Ranger Rick, said he would come to our cottage after the life guard tryouts on Saturday morning. As a side note, those tryouts were very impressive and I intend to blog about it and post some pictures.

Anyway, about 3:00 PM, I got a call from the supervisor and he said he and another officer would be coming by shortly. They were both very polite and professional. I described the incident, probably giving them too much detail - I have to remember, "just the facts, ma'am. "

My goal was twofold:

First, I wanted make sure there was training provided to the staff regarding peoples right to have equal access; even though they must use a service dog.

Second, due to Ranger Rick's horrible, demeaning, badge heavy, attitude and the fact that he flat out made up "facts" to try to intimidate me (like service dogs must be registered with the state dept. of parks), I wanted a formal complaint in his personnel file.

I waited four days to make sure I was as objective as I could be under the circumstances; but as hard as I tried to make excuses for his behavior, (bad day, fight with the wife, late in the day, etc.) there was absolutely no reason to teat any person in the manner.

With regard to the training; I was flabbergasted to learn that both of the supervisors were unsure and confused about the definition of service dog and regulatory authority. They said they had tried unsuccessfully to research the subject themselves. They had conflicting information and found it frustrating to deal with the number of dogs on the beach.

I totally agree there is a problem with people thinking they can slap a scarf or jacket on their pet and call it a service dog. There is a huge amount of training, and steps necessary to train a dog (and the person). Not to mention, the person has to have a NEED for a service dog - even if they don't look like it!

For the record, saying a pet, companion dog or even a therapy dog is a service dog, is illegal and there can be a hefty fine - the same as stealing a handicap parking placard and using illegally. Shame on them.

One supervisor stated, in twelve years of working the beach, he had only seen two service dogs; until the last two years. Now there seem to be "hundreds" of them. I said I was hopeful I could provide them with resources and law references to point them in the right direction. We pulled up the website and I was able to show them the legal section. In addition, I was able to give them the State Parks own policy section (#4312) that addresses service dog access.

I am optimistic that by asking for this meeting, and giving them additional resources they will start the steps necessary to better train the staff.

Regarding the second goal, the supervisor told me he would talk to Ranger Rick but that I had to file a formal complaint. Ranger Rick had numerous opportunities during the course of the incident to let it drop, say good bye, have a nice day, or even send someone over to the cottage say they were sorry and we wouldn't be bothered again . None of that happened. Because he made up lies and was so far over the line, I will proceed with the formal complaint.

Did this incident ruin my vacation? No.
But it did ruin that day and we did wait around all day today for the supervisor. I have spent a lot of precious vacation time on this issue.

I am hopeful the time and effort will help staff be better trained.

I am hopeful the next time a disabled person with a service dog, is so full of joy for being able to walk on the beach, they won't be crushed by an ignorant staff person harassing or telling them they have no right to be there.

I am so tired of it - end of subject.

1 comment:

  1. YOU GO GIRL!!! That's our Darcie! Proud of you again or should I say As Usual! Don't even think twice about filing that report. There are ways to handle every situation - he handled it very badly and deserves what he gets. He should have to write you a written apology! That would put sand in his shorts, wouldn't it?!?
    Enjoy the rest of your Vaca and have a nice walk on the beach for me! (with your dog!) Laurie