Please forward this email to the appropriate Shell departments, including Legal.
I received the letter dated June 27, 2007. This message is not intended to be a legal response as it is in electronic form. The content is intended to inform and clarify, as public awareness of matters related to disability is usually quite low.
As a former Shell employee, I am aware of its visitor policy, particularly at the Westhollow Technology Center. Thank you for the three-page reminder. As it happens, I do not foresee any need to visit Shell property again as I have concluded my business with Peoples’ Trust Federal Credit Union. About the only thing that could possibly change that is if Shell attempted to rehire me.
Your letter also evidenced a number of common misconceptions about the details of service dogs. Misconceptions that also marred my last encounter with your ABM contract security people.
First, contrary to what one of your guards stated, there are many more varieties of service dogs than just guide dogs. Indeed, the variety is virtually endlessly, and it is primarily defined by the needs of each owner/handler. That means that the designation “service dog” refers to a spectrum of capabilities rather than a few well-segregated categories.
Second, that wide-ranging reality requires that the certification process has to be equally open-ended and flexible. Other than the few standardized categories, such as the guide dogs, training has be done by the handler in consultation with a licensed working-dog trainer. Certification is then done when handler and trainer agree that the trainee dog is ready to do whatever the handler needed it for.
My trainer is Malinda Julien, CEO of US Tactical K9, an award-winning school used by law enforcement and federal agencies. She’s licensed in every training facet imaginable, and is comfortable with my training ability.
In my case, I have two dogs. One is an aging veteran who understands her role better than most people do, and is quite certified. More than once, well-intentioned Shell employees have accosted me with their beliefs that the dog cannot go on. These people know nothing about me or the animal, and they dismiss my obligation as the handler in a very complex relationship to understand my dog as precisely as humanly possible.
The other animal is a trainee. She may not succeed the veteran, but that has to be determined. Service dogs are not trained in a vacuum, nor are they trained in billion-dollar simulations that only companies like Shell could afford. They are trained by the handler first establishing trust and dominance. This is the main purpose of the service dog schools. Then, the handler has to repeatedly take the animal through every situation it is expected to handle, guiding and honing its responses. Only then is certification to even be considered.
Again, I have no plans to return to Shell property. But, if I must, please show some of the awareness that Shell used to have.
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