Dog and his disabled best friend win legal battle to attend school together

A Staffordshire terrier called Stevie has won the right to accompany his disabled best friend to school after school administrators tried to ban him.

Anthony Merchante, seven, suffers from cerebral palsy, spastic paralysis, a seizure disorder and cannot speak. He depends on a wheelchair to move around, to which Stevie is tethered most of the time.

Stevie, a trained service animal, can alert people when Anthony is experiencing a medical crisis by jumping on a sensor mat or barking. He is trained to help stabilise Anthony’s head so his airway isn’t impeded by lying across his front.

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Dog and his disabled best friend win legal battle to attend school together
Stevie is trained to help Anthony in emergencies (Picture: Miami Herald)

He also wears a red service vest that holds medical supplies and has detailed instructions on how to treat Anthony in the case of an emergency.

And in a ruling this week, a District Judge said that four-year-old Stevie should be allowed to accompany Anthony to school – and without the lengthy list of requirements that Broward County School Board wanted tacked on.

‘[Stevie] has saved Anthony’s life,’ Anthony’s mother, Monica Alboniga, told the Miami Herald

.

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(Picture: Miami Herald)
Anthony’s mother Monica had to go to school with her son as Stevie’s handler (Picture: Miami Herald)

‘I feel completely safe every time he is with the dog, because I know the dog will look for help.

‘He loves Anthony. And Anthony loves Stevie, too.’

For the first four months that Anthony went to Nob Hill Elementary School, Anthony’s mother, who is a single parent, was forced to come to school with her son as Stevie’s handler at the district’s orders.
 
Anthony’s mother, who is a single parent, was forced to come to school with her son as Stevie’s handler at the district’s orders.
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