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Autistic boy's service dog barred from preschool

May 20, 2008 |  9:50 am

A 4-year-old autistic boy's service dog was denied access to a preschool in Manteca, in California's Central Valley, the Associated Press reports:

Monday was the first day of class for an autistic 4-year-old boy at McFall Preschool.

It might have gone a bit better for Jayden Qualls if the school had allowed his canine assistant to tag along.

The problems began as Jayden tried to get on the school bus with his dog Houdini and the dog’s trainer. The family said Jayden was denied access with his dog.

Once the boy finally arrived at school, the principal refused to allow Houdini on campus, said Jayden’s mother, Tara Qualls.

Jayden’s parents bought Houdini for $13,000 from Autism Service Dogs of America. The dog helps Jayden with walking, staying alert and emotional outbursts, the boy’s mother said.

“They started jumping up, saying, 'The dog is not allowed here, we’ll have to call the pound if you take that dog in,'” Qualls said.

School district officials say they need to determine if Houdini is an actual service dog or a companion dog.

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