Tuesday Jun 28, 2022

Rescue agency denies adoption due to child with autism

Rescue agency denies adoption due to child with autism

A pet adoption agency in Ontario refused an application to rehome a dog to a family due to a policy it has not to send dogs to homes with children who have autism.

Erin Doan of Listowel, Ont, had applied to adopt a dog at nearby Kismutt Small Dog Rescue to serve as a companion to her nine-year-old son Henry, who has autism and is non-verbal.

Kismutt Small Dog Rescue denied the application, however, due to its policy not to send dogs to homes with children who have autism.

“I was shocked, a little teary,” Doan told CTV News London.

“I was rightfully angry.”

In a Facebook post, Kismutt Small Dog Rescue said that some people “may [criticize] my policy, but I just will not take a chance with another dog” and outlined two alleged incidents where a dog was injured shortly after an adoption to a home with child who had autism.

“After the second incident with the second dog, I made a policy that no dog will be adopted into homes with autistic children,” the post read.

Janet McLaughlin, an associate professor in health studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, teaches a course on autism and has a son with the medical condition. She said it’s hurtful to treat every child with autism the same way.

“Children with autism, just like children without autism, are unique individuals that vary in their behaviour,” she told CTV News Kitchener.

 “I think if I’d been told that we were denied the ability to adopt based on his diagnosis alone, despite the fact that he has no history of aggression or violence, I really would have felt hurt and outrage.”

The incident has also sparked outrage from other families who have children on the autism spectrum and calls for boycott of the rescue agency all together.

“Immediate thoughts were that it was discrimination, loud and clear,” said Cassidy Sabo, a concerned parent.

Vicki Spadoni, executive director of Autism Dog Services, trains dogs for children with autism and said that rescue dogs can work with these families, they just need to make sure to find the right fit.

“It has to be vetted very, very, very carefully, absolutely, but it’s very doable and it’s very much encouraged,” she said.

In a statement to CTV News, Kismutt Small Dog Rescue said the dogs are adopted strictly as pets and are not trained as service animals.

Autism Ontario said in a statement that it “strongly object[s]  to the discriminatory ban against autistic children and families by Kismutt [Small] Dog Rescue” and added that the incident is reminder that more education is needed.

Meanwhile, Doan said other rescue agencies have already reached out to help them find the right match.

With files from CTV News Kitchener and CTV News London


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