Judge Delays Decision in Ruling on Little Girl’s Service Dog

“If you do not make an accommodation in your BSL for service animals or emotional support animals, then you’re violating the FHA and the laws are very, very clear on that in our opinion,” Lancaster said.




Ahmeha Simmons is an 11-year-old girl from Little Rock, Arkansas.  She and her family are still waiting on a decision from a judge on whether or not they will be getting their service dog back.  According to mom Amanda Simmons, Ahmeha’s Asperger’s is regressing and making the family’s home life more difficult.

Yesterday, Pulaski County Jude Herbert Wright said he would be holding off on making the decision in an effort to get more information  He is requesting that both the defense and the city show documentation and reasons why he should be deciding in that party’s favor.  The interest in fairness is a good thing, however it’s making life rougher than it should be for a little girl and her family.

“Ahmeha is regressing and it’s kind of making things a lot worse on us at home,” Amanda said just after leaving the court room Monday.  “Since her service dog Edith was taken away, Ahmeha has been diagnosed as depressed.”

The Family’s lawyer, Clint Lancaster said that the issue is a tricky one, and quite unusual considering all involved.

“You know I think it is a very unique issue,” said Lancaster.  “It’s not something you see every day especially in a criminal case.”  Lancaster also said that there have been protesters trying to sway the judge in the family’s favor as well, and voicing their opposition to breed specific legislation in the city.

“If you do not make an accommodation in your BSL for service animals or emotional support animals, then you’re violating the FHA and the laws are very, very clear on that in our opinion,” Lancaster said.

Due to the judge’s call on Monday, this extends things for at least one more month, and Amanda Simmons is worried about what it is doing to her daughter.

“She doesn’t want my comfort and support she just wants her dog. She just wants her dog,” said Amanda Simmons.

Robert Bamburg, attorney for the City of Jacksonville declined to comment on the situation.  The next court date is set for February 7th.


1.12.16 - Simmons

33 thoughts on “Judge Delays Decision in Ruling on Little Girl’s Service Dog

  1. And why is he withholding judgment. This story doesn’t give us any background info on what has happened to get us to this point. Of course lack of the whole story and all the facts never stops people from shooting off their mouths about it…..

  2. PUT THEM BACK TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DOG MUST BE LONELY AND CONFUSED JUST LIKE HER!!!!!!! ALL OF YOU who keep getting on pitties cases should go to shelter and be made to hang out with them everyday then YOU WILL SEE THE LOVE THE KISSES they are just like any other LOVING DOG !!!!!!!!

    1. The judge needs to think about this case as if that as his daughter or granddaughter! He I not thinking straight. His thinking politics! Shame.

  3. Omg give them back to each other, a young girl suffering as are her family, and her loyal dog needs to feel his owners love and help guide his young charge what the hell is wrong with the justice system,

  4. They took it because it is a Pit Bull and it is obscene and despicable that they are doing this to this child..

  5. ANY dog can be aggressive. To put a blanker ban on Pit Bulls is no better than saying certain ethnic people should be banned from certain areas. This is ludicrous! Has the dog shown any aggressive tendencies? Jack Russell Terriers can also be aggressive as can poodles, Chihuahuas, Rottweilers ,etc. What is this judge waiting for? For this child to sink in to such a depression that she may never recover from? If that happens (and I really hope it doesn’t), how will the judge feel then? Will he be able to sleep at night, knowing that HIS actions caused this child to suffer? A blanker ban on ANYTHING usually does more harm than good. It’s time people woke up and realized that!

  6. Put the dog back-I don’t know how often this judge has dealt with anyone who has Asperger’s ,but if it helps this child let her have her dog. What right does anyone have to take a dog away, that doesn’t hurt anyone. Give her the dog back!

  7. That child needs her dog back. I had to put my service dog to sleep a few weeks ago and life without her is hard. I cannot imagine how difficult life is for that girl! The dogs save us!

  8. It just goes to show that even a well educated person can be ignorant. This judge should be ashamed of himself. Give this poor girl her dog back, and go put your services to use on an issue that truly needs some attention. This is not, and shouldnt have EVER been an issue!

  9. so once again a family makes a decision to get a banned breed and not only is their daughter suffering, the dog will suffer. They should have gotten a different service dog. I am sure they new about the breed restrictions in their area.

  10. Regardless of whether the family knew about breed bans or not. This is a great reason as to why breed specific legislation is an awful, pointless thing. This dog that the city decided was a dangerous breed was this little girls service animal. It is exactly the opposite of what the law claims this breed to be. Saying that all of one breed is dangerous because there have been SOME incidents is exactly like saying certain races should be banned. Bad stuff happens. There are bad people, sometimes bad animals but to make a broad statement about any one group because of the actions of a few is completely wrong and unjustified. And in this case, it’s extremely harmful.

  11. Anyone who truly understands Asperger’s Syndrome knows how difficult it can be. It has been proven time and again what a marvelous support dogs can be for folks with disabilities of all kinds.. May BSL be overturned and the ADA prevail. A true task trained Service Dog for whatever disability,is not a therapy dog, the dog is considered a medical assistive device.

  12. Plain and simple. Federal law trumps state, regional, county, city, and housing authorities unless the local laws grant more rights than the federal law. There is NO dog breed restrictions in the federal law, therefore any laws the county or city has restricting dog breeds for service dogs is illegal.

    If the judge rules against the family they need to apeal to a higher court. Some lower courts have gotten it wrong, but if taken to a higher level the service dog owners have ALWAYS won.

    Next afer this is dismissed, the family needs to sue for harrasment and discrimination. The cities action is harming the families daughter.


  13. What commenters and protesters are failing realize here is that Edith most likely does not qualify as a “Service Animal”, but as an “Emotional Support Animal” instead. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has very specific definitions for both of these distinctions and, unfortunately for this family, ESAs are not exempt from situations such as BSL, “no pets allowed” housing, etc. For clarification, here are a few FAQs from the ADA web site (http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html)

    Q1. What is a service animal?

    A. Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.

    Q2. What does “do work or perform tasks” mean?

    A. The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a dog that is trained to remind her to take her medication. Or, a person who has epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure and then help the person remain safe during the seizure.

    Q3. Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?

    A. No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. However, some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support animals into public places. You may check with your State and local government agencies to find out about these laws.

    Q4. If someone’s dog calms them when having an anxiety attack, does this qualify it as a service animal?

    A. It depends. The ADA makes a distinction between psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals. If the dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a service animal. However, if the dog’s mere presence provides comfort, that would not be considered a service animal under the ADA.
    Please don’t get me wrong here. I think BSL is ridiculous and taking a child’s much-needed therapy animal away simply because the dog is a specific breed is just about as heartless as you can get. I would like to know, however, if the parents were aware of the BSL laws when they acquired Edith. If they knew of these laws, yet still made the decision to bring Edith into their home believing that her presence would be protected by the ADA, these parents are equally to blame for their child’s current predicament.

    1. Keri, you are not correct about ESAs and BSL. US District Court in Warren v. Delvista Towers ruled that enforcing BSL on an ESA was a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

      The family got the dog when they still lived in Minnesota so there were no BSL in their area when they got it.

    2. Keri, I agree wholeheartedly.

      I am strongly opposed to BSL and supportive of the rights of those who need trained Service Dogs, but after reading more about this specific situation, I’m convinced that this isn’t what it appears on the surface. The attempts to portray her Emotional Support Animal — an untrained family pet — as a trained Service Dog with specific rights and duties is just one of many disingenuous things she is doing. She’s playing on people’s emotions. Her conduct seems very sketchy to me. If this case blows up and she’s discovered to have been negligent and/or in any way dishonest about all that has happened, the brunt of the consequences will fall on those with disabilities severe enough that they need trained service dogs.

  14. It’s not the breed its the owners that make all the difference. If a dog is well loved and trained (happy dog), NOT abused or mistreated and it protects its family … In this case a fragile young girl, the dog should not be punished for being alive. Like man not all dogs are created equal. Viva la dog !!!

  15. Time for Arkansas to join the 21st century. A man should not be judged by the color of his skin, and a dog should not be judged by the shape of his head!!!!

  16. Fair? There is nothing fair or right or even sane about breed specific legislation. It is the dumbest, cruelest crap to ever get handed down. Your honor, you look like a fool for even considering allowing this little girl to lose her best friend. I can see maybe taking a minute to consider, but another MONTH? That is pathetic.

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