Mom says Whitfield County Schools no longer allows son's service - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mom says Whitfield County Schools no longer allows son's service dog

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Chyenne and Manny in a family photo Chyenne and Manny in a family photo
Chyenne and Manny in a family photo. Chyenne and Manny in a family photo.
Chyenne and Manny in a family photo. Chyenne and Manny in a family photo.

A north Georgia mother said she fears for the well-being of her son, who is living with Autism after school leaders banned his service dog. 

She's now considering moving her family to another school district. 

It's been three years since Channel 3 first introduced you to Manny Harris and his service dog, Chyenne. 

The 5-year-old Shar Pei mix is specifically trained to be a companion for special needs children, like Manny. 

Jessica Harris said Chyenne has opened up the world to her 10-year-old who lives with Autism. 

"He doesn't hold hands well, he doesn't walk with other people. He has tactile defensiveness, he doesn't enjoy that type of touch. He gains sensory input from having the waist belt. It calms him, it makes him stay in one place," Harris said. 

Chyenne is licensed under national standards, meaning wherever Manny goes, Chyenne is legally allowed to go too. 

Unitl this week, when the Whitfield County School System told Harris Chyenne was no longer allowed at school. 

"Chyenne is a medical device. She is no different, according to the American Disabilities Act, than a prosthetic or a wheelchair or a cane," Harris said, "Having her and not having to drag him by his hand is a matter of dignity."

A spokesperson for Whitfield County Schools could not go into specifics but did say leaders work with families anyway they can. 

When allowing a service animal, leaders consider these things: 

  • The animal must provide a service that can't be provided by school staff
  • A dog cannot growl or snap at students
  • The animal must be under the control of its owner
  • The animal can't interfere with day to day activities

Harris said the school told her Manny can't control Chyenne and a teacher can meet his needs. She disagrees. 

"Just having the dog with her and with him keeps them bonded and trained. The bond and training would be broken with 30 hours a week away from each other," she added. 

Harris worries she will have to homeschool Manny or move her family to another district, which would impact her home business. 

She hopes to find common ground soon. 

"I am always willing to go to the school, every day, all day if I have to help train the teachers, to help them learn," she said. 

Stay with Channel 3 for updates on this story. 

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