— The writer of this article is a patron of Haverford Township Free Library. Out of concern for that relationship she has asked to remain anonymous
With Golden Retriever Henry close by her side, Deborah Rosan is as articulate as she is thoughtful, an impressive combination for someone who has recently been fired from her job of almost 10 years. “They had an opportunity to Do Good in this world” Rosan says, “and they refused it”. The good she is referring to takes us back to Henry, the guide dog puppy Rosan and her family are currently fostering. “We receive the puppies when they’re 2-3 months old, and keep them
for about a year and a half. Our main job is to expose the pups to as wide a range of experiences as possible, so that they’ll be effective guide dogs when they mature.” Indeed, Rosan’s first foster, Ethel, was a regular visitor to Haverford
Township Library, snoozing under the front desk for a full shift weekly as Deborah worked. But with a switch of library Directors came a switch of policy; the guide dogs in training, many of whom will go to Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans,
were no longer welcome. Rosan took her request to the head of the Library Board, to have it denied again.
More after the jump.
Haverford Township Free Library’s problem is, the law is on Rosan’s side. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania protects those who train and handle guide dogs just as those who will later use them. “Denying access is not only unconscionable” Rosan says “it is against the law”. Rosan thought seriously about bringing Henry despite the ban, but decided against it, for the dog’s sake. Rosan laughs, a loving twinkle in her eyes “Henry is a very sensitive fellow” she explains “I have no doubt he would have picked up on the tension, and ultimately I would have done him a disservice with that kind of experience”. And why the laughter, I ask “At about fifty pounds, he might not be the best personality to make this particular point. He thinks he’s a lap dog” she smiles “and he is quite sure that every time I sit down, I am a lap; it actually can cause a bit of a scene”.
So one night, when she was not scheduled to work, Deborah and Henry Dog, as she calls him, went to the library just for a visit. Which led to her being fired. “Insubordination” was what was written in her letter of termination, the incident with her guide dog puppy was referred to verbally at the meeting during which she was handed that letter.
“Ignorant and self righteous” is how Rosan describes the leadership of the library. Nor is the irony lost on her, she continues “that individuals whose very profession equips them with the skills to gather accurate information and then disseminate it to the public, would behave this way, is astounding”.
What would right the wrong? Among other things, Rosan suggests, “A sign posted on the library front door reading: Haverford Township Free Library Welcomes Service Dogs and Service Dogs in Training”. Rosan is filing complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Board and the EEOC. She has named Haverford Township Free Library, Haverford Township and the Delaware County Library System in the complaint.