SCCC finds solution to accommodate veteran’s service dog

The administration previously told the veteran that his service dog would not be allowed in the kitchen for culinary classes.
U.S. Air Force veteran Chuck McGuirk with his service dog Maddie. (inset); SCCC (background)
U.S. Air Force veteran Chuck McGuirk with his service dog Maddie. (inset); SCCC (background)

SCHENECTADY — Schenectady County Community College administrators announced Friday that a solution has been found to accommodate a veteran’s service dog in the college kitchen for culinary classes. 

Because of state code concerns, SCCC’s disability office told Air Force veteran Chuck McGuirk that his service dog, Maddie, would not be allowed in the kitchen with him while he was attending culinary classes. 

After serving in the Air Force for 11 years, McGuirk was diagnosed with PTSD. In an earlier interview with The Daily Gazette, he said activities such as going to the movies, going to work, and sometimes even leaving his home in East Greenbush became difficult. Maddie helped to ease his panic attacks and general anxiety, making it possible for him to do things like take his four young children camping or to the park.

McGuirk argued that because the Americans With Disabilities Act is a federal law — which does not specify kitchens as an exception for service animal access in public places — he should be able to be accompanied by his dog, under the protection of the law that supersedes state and local codes. 

In a statement released on Friday, the community college said it was “pleased to have arrived at a resolution that works for everyone.”

Previous: SCCC puts veteran’s intended use of service dog in culinary arts kitchen in doubt, Aug. 17, 2018

“During the upcoming semester, Maddie will be stationed in a soft crate in a peripheral section of the kitchen area, easily accessible to the student,” the college said. “We appreciate the help and support from the county and the Department of Health in making these determinations.”

With classes starting the first week of September, McGuirk can avoid having to make course changes at the last minute, a concern he had when the issue was in limbo.

“SUNY Schenectady will always support individuals with disabilities and work to foster an inclusive environment that is accessible and welcoming for all students and employees,” the statement concluded. 

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Jake Lahut at 518-322-2358, [email protected] or @JakeLahut on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County


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