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Service Animal Access Bill Passes House; Military Veteran Urges Senate To Act

Mary Junell
U.S. Army

The Florida House has unanimously passed a measure meant to ensure people with disabilities can bring their service animals to all public places. One disabled veteran who spoke to WFSU hopes the Senate takes up the bill before the lawmaking session ends this week.

Cesar Silva and his fiancé live in Tampa. But Silva says after returning from Kuwait, he still feels like he’s in a combat situation much of the time, even when entering his own home. That’s when his German Shepherd, Sophia, gets to work.

“She will look around, make sure there’s no possible threat that I sometimes perceive in my mind due to my post-traumatic stress disorder and my anxiety. She will make sure the room is clear, there’s no harm. She will turn on lights. And then she will come and get me and I will enter the house," he says.

Silva says he was once asked to remove Sophia from a class he was taking. And he says the drugstore where he worked told him to go home when he brought the service dog.   

That’s why he says he hopes the Senate also passes a bill that says people with either physical or mental disabilities have the right to bring specially trained service dogs or miniature horses anywhere they go.