PUPDATE! Charlie the NJ Therapy Dog Finally Gets To Do His Job

In a surprising about face, the school district has decided to allow Shore to bring Charlie to school pending permanent changes to their policy.

Sixteen-year-old Ben Shore was eager, if nervous, to finally be permitted to bring Charlie to school. Photo: Tim Hawk/NJ.com

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Back in January, we told you the story of New Jersey teen Ben Shore, who was fighting to enact “Charlie’s Law.”

If passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Chris Christie, the law would impose fines starting at $250 for anyone who refuses to allow a service dog into a public place without cause. Shore and his family brought the case to the assembly after the 16-year-old was denied access to his school bus because Charlie was with him.

Shore, who is on the autism spectrum, has ADHD and is prone to panic attacks due to anxiety, acquired Charlie, a goldendoodle, about a year and a half ago. This past Thursday, he and Charlie finally went together to Cherry Hill High School East. He was driven there by his father, Eric Shore.

Diane Allen, a New Jersey state senator who has sponsored service dog legislation had recently said the portion of the district’s policy barring service dogs on buses clearly broke the state’s law.

Ben and Charlie relax at home. Photo: NJ.com

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NJ.com reported that the fight ended this week, when the school administration flip-flopped and told Shore he could bring the dog despite the current wording of their official policy.

Spokeswoman Barbara Wilson said the change of heart was related to the Board of Education’s upcoming vote Feb. 14 on a revised service dog policy.

“In the meantime, the district decided to allow a service dog to accompany a student to Cherry Hill High School East in advance of the adoption of the revised policy, as we work to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” she said in an email.

Outside the school Thursday, Shore admitted to reporters that the dog will likely be a distraction at first, even though he will be quiet and out of the way.

“He’s going to chill under my desk and just lay there,” he said.

Eric Shore said that after all his efforts to bring his dog to school, his son got nervous Wednesday night about the prospect of actually doing it.

“He never thought it’d be reality,” Shore, an attorney, said Thursday.

“This is his idea, his battle. He saw what he thought was an injustice and he tried to rectify it,” the teen’s father said. “And it looks like he did.”

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