[nfbwatlk] A warm embrace from a slithery pal, The Olympian, September 24 2009

Kaye Kipp kkipp123 at msn.com
Wed Sep 30 23:27:46 UTC 2009

Good lord.  I'm afraid if a boa constrictor wrapped itself around my neck 
and squeezed, it would *cause me to have a seizure.*  No way.  Honestly. 
We've had pigs on planes, snakes in restaurants?  What next.  Oh yeah, and 
guide horses.  Hmmm.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nightingale, Noel" <Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov>
To: <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 9:32 AM
Subject: [nfbwatlk] A warm embrace from a slithery pal, The 
Olympian,September 24 2009

> And a slippery slope about which some of us have cautioned is represented 
> by this article
> Link:
> http://www.theolympian.com/southsound/story/980930.html
> Text:
> A warm embrace from a slithery pal
> Service: Shelton man gets a hug from his boa constrictor to warn him when 
> a seizure is coming
> CHRISTIAN HILL; The Olympian
> Published September 24, 2009
> SHELTON - Most people would panic if a 4-foot boa constrictor draped 
> around their neck gave them a squeeze.
> Daniel Greene, 46, credits the snake's embrace for helping him live a 
> fuller life. So much so, in fact, that he has vowed to fight a tabled 
> proposal by the federal government that would prevent him and many others 
> from taking what they consider their service animals into stores and 
> restaurants.
> He said use of his reptilian aide gives him greater confidence when he 
> leaves home.
> "I was walking around playing Russian roulette a lot of the time," he said 
> of the period before he began using the snake, named Redrock, as a service 
> animal.
> Greene, who lives outside Shelton, suffers from epilepsy, a neurological 
> disorder characterized by unprovoked and reoccurring seizures. He said the 
> snake, its reddish-brown body draped around him like a necktie when he's 
> out in public, senses when a seizure is imminent and gives him a light 
> squeeze. The warning gives him enough time to take medication to head off 
> the attack, alert someone it's coming or move to an area where the 
> thrashing is not disruptive.
> Greene blacks out during these episodes, but his wife, Karen, said the 
> snake's warning has headed off about a half-dozen seizures in Redrock's 
> five months with Greene. This month, Greene has had four seizures at 
> night - she refuses to let the boa constrictor share their bed - but none 
> during the day.
> "It's very rare now that he has had a seizure during the day," she said.
> Greene said he learned of snakes' prescient ability by accident about a 
> year ago with another snake, a 3-foot female python named Gaia. He has 
> another python, Bronze, who will be Redrock's successor when he grows too 
> large. He could grow up to be 7 feet long.
> Greene took medications to control his seizures, but said they weren't 
> always successful and were damaging his liver.
> A study by University of Florida researchers concluded that some dogs have 
> an innate ability to detect an oncoming seizure in their owners but noted 
> the success of these canines depends on the handler's awareness to their 
> alerting behavior. The researchers said further research is warranted to 
> identify and further train these dogs, although it appears none has taken 
> place. Greene said he couldn't have such a dog because his wife is 
> allergic.
> Darryl Heard, a University of Florida researcher who studies snakes, said 
> he's unaware of any information that this ability extends to snakes, 
> although he added that "it's certainly possible."
> Snakes have acute sensitivity to vibration and could pick up warnings in 
> the body before a seizure, similar to how tremors precede a volcanic 
> eruption, he said.
> "You might get subtle muscle vibrations or there may be changes in blood 
> flow that the snake is detecting," said Heard, the associate professor of 
> zoological medicine at the university's College of Veterinary Medicine.
> Heard said there are risks in using a snake in this manner. A boa 
> constrictor could mistake Greene in the midst of a seizure for struggling 
> prey and apply a life-threatening choke hold, he said.
> "I certainly wouldn't have a boa constrictor around my neck," Heard said.
> Greene said he removes the snake when given a warning and hands him to his 
> wife or another companion. Redrock has never exhibited aggressive behavior 
> toward him or other residents, he said.
> "It takes a special kind of snake to be a service animal," he said.
> Around town, Greene said residents generally are curious about Redrock, 
> but some are scared. He said he's always respectful about people's fears 
> of snakes. He typically sends his wife in to notify employees of a store 
> or restaurant that her husband is coming in with a most unusual companion. 
> He has been asked to leave one restaurant.
> The proliferation of wild animals, such as Redrock and also including 
> birds, monkeys and miniature horses, for use as service animals prompted 
> the U.S. Department of Justice last year to seek to remove some species 
> from coverage under the Americans for Disabilities Act.
> Federal and state laws require businesses to allow people with 
> disabilities to bring in their service animals. The Americans with 
> Disabilities Act defines a service animal as "any guide dog, signal dog, 
> or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an 
> individual with a disability." Therapy or comfort animals are not covered 
> under the ADA.
> The law as written requires businesses and other public accommodations to 
> take people's word that they have a service animal. A person with a 
> service animal can be asked if he or she has a disability but isn't 
> required to show proof. The state does not require service animals to be 
> certified or specifically identified. Greene wears a badge with Redrock's 
> picture on it to remind people of his rights under federal law.
> Laura Lindstrand, a civil-rights specialist for the Washington State Human 
> Rights Commission, said Redrock would fall under a definition of a service 
> animal based on Greene's assertion that he trained the snake. Greene said 
> he acclimated Redrock to people and sounds and made him "public-friendly."
> Last year, the Department of Justice, which enforces the ADA, proposed 
> narrowing the definition of service animal to a "dog or other domestic 
> animal." It later reportedly narrowed the definition down to only dogs.
> Mark Richert, public-policy director for the American Foundation for the 
> Blind, said, "frankly, a no arachnid or no reptile rule is a sensitive 
> thing in federal policy," according to a transcript of a public hearing on 
> the proposed amendments posted online.
> On Jan. 21, the day after President Barack Obama's inauguration, the 
> Department of Justice withdrew its draft final rules from consideration. 
> It responded to a White House directive to defer adopting any new rules 
> until they could be reviewed and approved by officials appointed by the 
> new president.
> The Department of Justice did not respond Wednesday to questions about the 
> status of the proposed rules related to service animals.
> Lindstrand said she assumes they are dead.
> "I haven't heard a whisper about it since way before the election," she 
> said.
> Like his serpentine companion, Greene remains vigilant. He supports 
> changes in the law that a service animal must have a universally 
> recognized badge or identification to be allowed into a building. He 
> opposes restrictions on the species of animals that can be considered 
> service animals.
> "I'm not fighting just to have my snakes," he said. "I'm fighting for 
> people to have true service animals."
> Christian Hill: 360-754-5427
> chill at theolympian.com
> _______________________________________________
> nfbwatlk mailing list
> nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org
> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for 
> nfbwatlk:
> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org/kkipp123%40msn.com

More information about the NFBWATlk mailing list