Jindal signs bill expanding disability rights for individuals, v - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Jindal signs bill expanding disability rights for individuals, veterans

Pieper with her service dogs. Pieper with her service dogs.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Gov. Bobby Jindal was in Shreveport Monday to sign a bill into law supporting veterans and individuals with disabilities and an ArkLaTex woman said that is a great victory for people like her.

The bill, SB 432, prohibits any person with a disability from being denied admission to any public facility because of disability. This includes veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury. The bill also prohibits individuals with disabilities from being denied the use of a cane, service dogs, a wheelchair, crutches or other devices of assistance.

“This bill builds on our efforts to support individuals with disabilities, including our veterans who have fought fearlessly to protect our freedom," Jindal said in a news release.

The bill was written by Sen. Sherri Buffington, R-La., and supported by the Wounded Warrior Project, a program that raises awareness and enlists help for injured service members.

"This is the biggest victory we can have right now, we're one step closer to never being told no," said Bossier Parish Resident Helen Pieper, who suffers from severe asthma. 
Her service dog, Bandit, plays a big role in keeping her safe.

"She tells me 20 minutes before I have an asthma attack. My dog goes everywhere with me wherever I can bring her, if I didn't have her, I wouldn't be here," she said. 

Pieper is also a certified dog trainer at Puppy Paws Dog Training. She trains other service dogs, including dogs for veterans with mental disabilities. 

"If he [my student] didn't have the dog to keep calm, he wouldn't be able to go out in public," Pieper said.

With this victory behind them, Pieper said maybe more people will recognize what service dogs mean to them.

"Because a dog is working when they are with us, they are not a pet at that point in time, they are our life support and we need them," she said.

SB 432 updates Title 46 to protect individuals with mental disabilities, in addition to current protections in existing law for physical impairment. It also extends protection to all forms of disability, including autism and psychiatric disability.

To read the full bill click here.

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