A Request for Help

Scott and Bigby at Work

Some of you know that Scott has been raising and training a service dog to treat his PTSD.  We had discussions with each other, his doctors and our family and friends before embarking on this journey. We’ve received amazing support from The Foundation for Service Dog Support that supports first responders.  From the moment Scott began to take his dog Bigby to work with him our lives have changed. Scott was able to break his cycle of isolation and enjoy being out in the world. He truly enjoys working as a Missing Persons detective. I was able to transition from being a caregiver back to being a partner for the first time since he was shot.

This dog has been well behaved since the first day on the job.
This dog has been well behaved since the first day on the job.

Unfortunately, the city of Phoenix does not want Bigby to come to work with Scott, and their reasons are unfounded, being based on both erroneous facts and ignorant assumptions as indicated by their language in our recent correspondence. Bigby is a psychiatric service dog and is clearly covered as reasonable accommodation under the law.  He is not a therapy dog, emotional support dog or just a fun pet.  The HR representative that called Scott would not use the word PTSD and instead referred to it as “mood issues” and repeatedly called Bigby an emotional support dog despite Scott’s repeated attempts to correct and explain. Scott had a medical doctor and two psychologists, one of which specializes in treating PTSD, diagnose PTSD and recommend that he get a psychiatric service dog.

For someone with PTSD this was enough to trigger an episode. Thankfully, Scott had the wherewithal to call me and got out enough words so that I understood what was going on and could rush home.  Scott once told me that when he was shot he never believed he was actually going to die and he thought that had helped him live through it. Now, I was watching Scott lose his will to live on my living room floor and the only thing keeping him here was Bigby.

An emergency page to his psychologist’s office, a visit from a good friend and constant care from Bigby helped Scott come back.  I spent the night speaking with a variety of different people and demanding that this issue be resolved.  Unfortunately, this has been a big step back in Scott’s recovery.  I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of him than when he got up, got dressed and went to work the next morning (with his service dog of course).  The instinct for someone with PTSD is to isolate and avoid; I can’t even imagine how difficult that was for him to do.  Particularly, because there was a chance that he would be walked out the door for bringing his service dog despite the legal protections.

Scott has taken steps to treat his PTSD from the beginning.  It has been a struggle but he is a fighter and he’s been fighting hard for a long time and was turning some major corners. He is the love of my life and my best friend.  I will never stop fighting for what is best for Scott.

The thing is, I can’t do this by myself. Scott needs your help too.  He needs his brothers and sisters in blue, his fellow veterans, his family and his friends.

Ways you can help:

Send Scott words of encouragement on Facebook.

Send Scott words of encouragement on Twitter (@QkslvrSailor)

Share his story.

Contact the Phoenix City Manager:

Ed Zuercher, Phoenix City Hall

200 W Washington St.

Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone (602) 262-6941

Email: ed.zuercher@phoenix.gov

If you live in the city of Phoenix, you can also contact your Phoenix city councilperson.

Thank you for the continued support,

Christie

Even when Bigby was an untrained little puppy he brought joy to Scott's life by giving him hope.
Even when Bigby was an untrained little puppy he brought joy to Scott’s life by giving him hope.
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40 thoughts on “A Request for Help

  1. Christie, you and Scott are an inspiration. Surely, Scott’s work as an officer (I still remember That day), but even more so for your courageous sharing of your stories. Your honesty and hope show through with each word. If it were only that you are an amazing baker, and Scott a fantastic photographer it would be notable. You two are so much more.

    I feel like I (kind of) know Scott through all of your adventures, his infectious smile and wonderful sense of humor. Until we get to meet in person, I’m still here cheering from the sidelines, and will do whatever I can to support.

    I know Scott is an amazing, strong person. Because I know you. And how devoted you are to each other.

    Thank you for sharing this. I hope it gets corrected soon.

  2. You just have to get this to the media….I shared on Facebook. Best of luck with this city battle and your recovery….and thank you for being an officer.

  3. thank you for your support, I tried to sent a fb message, but couldn’t locate Scott on FB. I sent a twitter and sent a nice letter to the Phx City Manager. #staybigbystay My heart goes out to the 3 of you!

  4. Hello Christie. I’m Brahm Resnik with 12 News. A mutual friend flagged your post for me. Is Ed Zuercher aware of the denial by HR?

    1. Hi Brahm, I’m not sure if he was before my post but I have a feeling he is now. I do want to make it clear that the police department is very understanding and supportive but the city’s HR department is in need of some education.

    1. Share his story. Write to your council person and tell them you support Scott and Bigby. I’m a super introvert and am really hoping I can avoid direct interaction with the mainstream media but I’m in this to support Scott as much as I can. It has been a very difficult decision to share what’s going on.

      1. I understand. I’ll make some calls in the morning. I have a feeling this might quietly work itself out the way you and Scott wish it to. I’d be grateful if you could send me an email address so we can keep this confidential. I’m brahmresnik@yahoo.com

  5. Sending emails to the city manager from Battle Buddy Service Dogs of Kansas City, MO. Unfortunately there are people out there that have no clue of what they are talking about. Hang in there Scott! Thank you for your service protecting the citizens of Phoenix.

  6. Hey Scott,
    Hang in there man. I know first-hand what it can be like battling PTSD and the stigma still present within the LE community. There is a freedom and real possibility of of once again living life full of presence, free of the weight of PTSD. Stick with your dog, be present with him. Animals are often saints,capable of guiding us when we are struggling. Take care, stay strong!

  7. Is the police union aware of this? I just got off a city task force dealing with PTSD and the unions were a part of it. I would hope HR would see how necessary this is for their employee and also use a better choice of words when dealing with one of our city’s finest. I see no reason why these reasonable accommodations cannot be met.

    Frank Piccioli
    President AFSCME Local 2960

  8. I will contact them tomorrow and have shared on fb. My daughter currently has a dog just finishing training right now. We are hoping it makes life better for her. They don’t understand their ADA guidelines very well. They can’t even ask medical history specifics.

  9. I came upon this posting through social media, and really feel the need to reach out.
    Dealing with some “mood issues” myself (that phrase infuriates me so much… I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Scott to hear it), I know how absolutely amazing it is that Scott was able to push himself to go to work after what he experienced. Scott– keep fighting for yourself; what you are accomplishing for yourself is nothing short of amazing.

    And, Christie, I’m very glad Scott has someone like you to be there for him. You are a great, loving woman. Thank you for everything that you’re doing.

    I hope the next time I hear about Scott and Bigby, it will be a happy resolution for everyone.

  10. Thank you for put you life on the line every day even after you got shot ky family and I wish you and your family not but the best stay safe out there thank you thank you thank you so much for being a police officer that cares for his job you do see this every day because the new want the bad things be seen not the good my God bless you and your family in your days ahead

  11. Christie, are there any updates? Hopefully this can all be resolved quickly! I see that the news might be getting involved and there seems to be a lot of public support. Praying for you and Scott.

  12. 110% Support for both of you here in Phoenix from a former LE community employee out of CA. Thank you, thank you, thank you Scott for putting your life on the line and for your service. I really am dumbfounded that this is even an issue. Sharing far and wide for you. Hoping this gets resolved quickly and in Scott’s favor. Stay strong you two!

  13. Please contact me if you need help with the media. I am a public relations pro and an animal activist. I have all the contacts to the media you need. I can be reached at 602-703-3659. Channel 15 did an excellent piece last night for you and thank God City Councilman Sal DiCiccio is involved,

  14. Scott, there’s a group on Facebook called Service Dog Law. The Founder is an excellent person on ADA laws — “Have him contact me. No further posts at this time please. They can reach me through adacompliant@aol.com and ask them to give me contact info. If they need to know more about me first refer them to my website and tell them to click on the Founders Page” http://www.servicedoglaw.org/ I’m familiar with FSDS because my first service dog was one of their 1st Service Dog Ambassadors…

  15. Here’s what I wrote to the City Manager:
    Dear Sir,

    My name is Kayla Rigney. I have Medical Alert Service Dog named Joey, a Bleu Toy Poodle. We are emailing you in regard to Bigby the Service Dog. If Phoenix TV is reporting this story correctly, the City of Phoenix is about to be in a whole lot of hot water, because under the ADA, it’s illegal to ask for documentation proving an animal is a Service Dog – whether it’s in training or not. To quote ADA.gov:
    “CERTIFICATION AND REGISTRATION

    Q17. Does the ADA require that service animals be certified as service animals?
    A. No. Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.”

    I’m sure one of your city lawyers has already informed you of the above. (At least, I hope so.) As a member of a Service Dog Team, I can tell you that being asked to see Joey’s “papers” is not only offensive, it’s against FEDERAL law. According to the ADA, here’s what an entity can ask: “(1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.”

    Sir, in the names of all Service Dogs living and working in the state of Arizona, please make it so Bigby can do his job.

    Sincerely & With Thanks for Your Time,

    Kayla Rigney & Her Service Dog Joey

      1. You’re welcome. All of us together can educate the city of Phoenix!

        My Joey says please tell Bigby he’s had to fight for his rights, too.

  16. Hi Scott
    I’m a retired law enforcement from California after 32 years and just read the article. Are you off duty walking into the target or other type of store? If so, why are you displaying your badge and handgun like that? Very strange. Why would you advertise yourself in that manner…unless you’re seeking attention in some bizarre way. You must be on duty. Also if you have these kinds of mental issues you should not be carrying a gun..you must be scaring the hell out of your co-workers! Your agency needs to retire you ASAP…I don’t feel comfortable being in Phoenix with you around. Please stop embarrassing the LOE community with you actions. PTSD?? wow…indeed. Find another line of work that doesn’t involve guns.
    Greg Johnson
    Prescott AZ

    1. Hi Greg. So normally I won’t approve comments that seem like they may be “trolling”. However, when I re-read your comments I started to feel concerned. Often the things we don’t like about others are the things we don’t like about ourselves. I know that in 32 years of law enforcement you saw some really horrible stuff. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have all that horror and stress build up over all that time. The good news is that there are wonderful resources available to you. I think Badge of Life may right up your alley. You can visit their website at http://www.badgeoflife.com. They have former officers with many years of experience just like you who are there to help.

  17. You should have got on Facebook and in touch with the service dog community. It’s huge and we all readily advocate for denial of access issues.

    1. Hi Raven, thanks for the support. We’re definitely learning how big the community is and how amazingly supportive they are. The foundation we are working with has also been amazingly supportive in assisting us in educating on these issues. Our city has been struggling to address PTSD with our officers sometimes with tragic consequences. We’re hoping Scott and Bigby can be agents of changes and eduction with help from our friends and the community.

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