Dog That Prompted Change In Senate Rules Dies
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 29, 2005
WASHINGTON, DC--Beau was a loyal companion, world traveler, and a minor celebrity.
He was also responsible for bringing directly to lawmakers the issue of how service animals are represented through the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and how Congress itself respects the federal law.
Beau died quietly earlier this month at age 13, the Washington Post reported.
The yellow Labrador retriever worked for nearly a decade as a guide dog for Moira Shea, a federal government employee who is blind, and accompanied her across the U.S. and Europe.
In 1997, when Shea was working for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, fellow Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia raised an objection when Shea tried to bring Beau onto the floor of the Senate.
Even though the Senate had voted to require Congress to live by employment rules it had imposed on employers, including the ADA, the Senate itself had no formal guidelines allowing guide and service animals into the chamber, Byrd said.
Wyden quickly introduced a resolution to allow "supporting services", including dogs, onto the floor.
"I had hoped that there would be no need to offer this resolution, but I am forced to because discrimination still persists here," Wyden said from the Senate floor.
The next day, the Senate passed a resolution that allowed Beau into the chamber and started a change in the rules to permit other service animals into the chamber.
"He was a really excellent guide dog," Shea told the Washington Post. "He had a charisma. He just had something about him that I've never seen in another dog."
"Dog guided Senate on disability rules" (Washington Post via Houston Chronicle)