Breed Discrimination Deprives Girl with Asperger’s of Emotional Support DogFamilyPet
There’s no denying how important Edith is to Ahmeah Simmons. As a therapy animal, Edith provides emotional support for the girl — who has Asperger’s syndrome — which is why it was all the more shocking when Jacksonville, Ark. officials decided to take her dog away.
According to BarkPost, her mother Amanda Simmons found Edith as an 8-week-old puppy while the family lived in Minnesota. She was prompted by doctor’s recommendation to find a companion animal for Ahmeah. Edith’s scar and curly tail separated her from the rest. She was the one for Ahmeah.
“Ahmeah said she’s different like her, and this is the one she wanted, and we got her,” Simmons said. “We rescued her and she rescued us in return. She became my child, too.”
When the family moved to Jacksonville in 2015, they didn’t know breed-specific legislation (BSL) in the town had banned all Pit Bulls from city limits. There was no BSL in Minnesota. Edith, being a Pit Bull, however, was quickly seized by animal control. Simmons paid a $260 fine to get Edith back, but the dog was taken away a second time after a neighbor called authorities.
Ahmeah, devastated, cried herself to sleep most nights, missing Edith.
“She loves me,” Ahmeah told ABC 7. “And she didn’t do anything wrong.”
Ahmeah’s mother said the pair were best friends. Ahmeah would dress Edith up, put bows in her ears, paint her toes, and sleep beside her every day.
“I just really miss her and love her and, without her, I’m just lonely. I have nobody to talk to and nobody to hang out with,” Ahmeah told WREG News Channel 3.
Simmons pleaded with the City of Jacksonville to no avail. She eventually hired a lawyer, but still faced unexpected delays and frustration as city officials not only kept Edith’s whereabouts from the family, but at one time attempted changing the ownership on her microchip. It wasn’t until after a petition was started, now well on its way to 240,000 signatures, and Simmons began the moving process that the city’s attorney, Robert Bamburg, recanted and offered a deal.
Along with Edith, the Simmons family returned to Minnesota. And with the help of a friend at Lilly the Hero Pit Bull, are looking for a home where they can live together safely.
Breed-specific legislation has been giving dogs and dog owners grief in other parts of North America, too. Follow this link to read about the Pit Bull bans that are going into effect in Canada, and how people are reacting to them.