Service Dog Confiscated From Girl With Aspergers For Most Unfair Reason
While the bond between any child and her dog is unbreakable, 11-year-old Ahmeah Simmons and Edith have a relationship stronger than most others.
That's because Ahmeah has Asperger's syndrome, and Edith is not only her service dog. For 18 months, Edith has been a best friend to Ahmeah.
"Anywhere Ahmeah went Edith was right by her side," Ahmeah's mother, Amanda Simmons, told The Dodo.
From playtime to emergencies, individuals across the autism spectrum have greatly benefitted from the presence of service dogs in their lives. The U.S. government has recognized the value of service dogs and has set laws in place to protect the rights of those who need one.
The Simmons have had Edith since she was 7 weeks old, and for the past year she's improved the life of Ahmeah and everybody in the house.
Unfortunately, when Simmons and her family moved to Jacksonville, Arkansas, they didn't realize that the city had breed-specific legislation which bans pit bulls.
Despite a nationwide trend to eliminate outdated breed discrimination, pit bulls have remained the target of a lingering notion that they are inherently dangerous.
When a neighbor reported seeing Edith, officials were quick to do their job. They removed Edith from the property and placed her in a shelter, according to reports from Ahmeah's mother.
That's when Edith became sick. "Housed on a cold, concrete floor without her human, [Edith] became violently ill, vomiting and excreting yellow diarrhea," wrote Ahmeah's mother.
The shelter saw that Edith needed to be with Ahmeah, so they returned her to the Simmons family.
But that didn't last. One day when the Simmons were having their house treated with pesticides, they brought Edith to a friend's vacant backyard. Once again, Edith was reported to officials who swiftly confiscated the dog.
Now, Edith is being fostered outside of Jacksonville and the Simmons family are awaiting their day in court, January 11.
"The past few months have been a nonstop nightmare," Amanda Simmons told The Dodo. "Ahmeah cries herself to sleep almost every night. Our house just isn't the same."
While it upsets Simmons to see her daughter go through this pain, she has faith in her lawyers and the integrity of the legal system.
"I have all of the paperwork that certifies Edith is permitted to come with us to the airport, school or the doctor's, yet she can't live in our town because of BSL," Amanda Simmons writes. "It's a total infringement on our individual rights."
Until the new year comes, all the family can do is make their plea to the public to back them up. An online petition directed against Jacksonville officials was posted by Amanda Simmons several days ago and has already reached over 110,000 signatures.
"I want everybody to help get her back and help no other little girl go through what I'm going through now," Ahmeah said in a video.
Follow the story of Ahmeah and Edith on their Facebook called Save Edith From BSL.