Boy denied service dog in school over bureaucratic red tape

NEW YORK -- A young boy in New York City, who desperately needs a service dog, is running into a wall of bureaucracy. Eyewitness News spoke exclusively to the boy and his mother.

Sundance is a cute puppy, but he could also someday save a life - Daniel Riley's life.

"We got all his stuff. His bowls, his leash, all his stuff," said Daniel, who is diabetic.

"I have a pod, and I check my blood sugar, and if I need a correction or if I'm eating I give my carbs and the pod tells me how much insulin," Daniel said.

Daniel, 9, has Type 1 diabetes. It doesn't slow him down much; he plays sports and lives a pretty normal life but is always aware of what happened when he was 2 years old and could happen again. It almost killed him.

"Diabetic ketoacidosis," Daniel said.

But a group called Dads of America offered Daniel's mom Sundance, the specially highly-trained Golden Retriever.

"It warns me 30-40 minutes before I go low or high" Daniel said.

That's better than he could do on his own, Daniel said.

"I still need to be aware of his numbers before or after," said Daneen Gazzola, Daniel's mother.

If he had the dog, Daniel said, some of his fears and anxiety go away.

But his family hasn't been able to get Sundance yet.

Daniel's mom went to the New York City Department of Health to notify them her son would be bringing a service animal to school, and they had her fill out a form.
A couple weeks later they responded that the application was denied.

"The DOE is reviewing the details of the request to determine the level of involvement that is required as this is a nonpublic school," the city Department of Education told Eyewitness News.

But the school, St. Clare of Assisi in the Bronx, said they can't allow the dog until the city gives its OK. Lawyers we spoke to say the law is clear.

"I don't see what the issue is. If it's a service animal in a facility or school it has to be allowed," said Peggy Collen, attorney.

Daniel's no lawyer, but he doesn't see what the issue is either.

"It helps me monitor my blood sugar and it helps me live a happy life," Daniel said.

School ends next Friday. Daniel may get Sundance then.
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