Once-Banned Service Dog in Heat, Not in School

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011  |  Updated 4:59 PM EDT
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Fairfax County Schools Keep Service Dog Out of Class

Alaya, a service dog for a boy with epilepsy, was not allowed to join him in class.

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12-Year-Old Faces Off Against School Board

A 12-year old boy takes his fight over a service dog to the Fairfax County school board.

Boy Barred From School With His Service Dog

Andrew Stevens and his service dog Alaya.
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A service dog once banned from a 12-year-old epileptic boy's elementary school finds herself out once again. But this time it's not because of the school.

Alaya the German shepherd apparently is in heat, and the boy's parents told officials at Fort Belvoir Elementary School that the pooch wouldn't be going to school with him on Tuesday.

Fairfax County Public Schools originally barred the dog from joining Andrew Stevens in school, citing concerns about who would be the dog's handler. But after the family appeared on the "TODAY" show, the school changed its mind.

Andrew's parents agreed to a trial period of 3-6 weeks where one of Andrew's parents must accompany Andrew and his dog to school. There would also be a weekly conference call to assess how Andrew, his dog, and other students were responding to the new situation.

Tuesday was to be the first day of the trial period, but that didn't happen.  It was not immediately clear when Alaya would be allowed to go to the school with Andrew.

Andrew and his family raised $20,000 and waited two years for a dog trained by the group Seizure Alert Dogs for Life, Norah O'Donnell reported for NBC News. Alaya is Andrew’s best friend and protector. She detects and responds to dozens of epileptic seizures Andrew has every day.

Andrew has a rare form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS). Alaya has a magnet in her collar. When Alaya detects Andrew’s impending seizure, the dog swipes the magnet over a nerve stimulator implanted in Andrew’s chest. An electrical impulse goes to Andrew’s brain, stopping the seizure.

Jon Sabin, president of Seizure Alert Dogs for Life, said that Alaya is one of the top dogs in seizure response in the world, and that she has tremendous pedigree. Her official name is Oleah Grams Von Ajaye.

"She comes from world champion bloodline," Sabin said.

You can see that bloodline by clicking here.

Sabin said that since Andrew's story made national news, he has received more than 40,000 e-mails from across the world inquiring about purchasing seizure dogs.

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