No Way to Treat a Veteran & his Golden Service Dog – Updated

Luis Montalvan, left, a disabled veteran, and his service dog, Golden Retriever Tuesday, met Sen. Al Franken by chance at an inaugural ball in Washington. The former Army captain was wounded in Iraq.

I’ve posted about Al Franken here, here ,here, & here and continue to be so impressed by what he is trying to do in truly making a difference for his constituents. He is a dog lover, of course, as one would expect him to be. A Labrador Retriever guy, in fact. I love that his initial legislation was inspired by a Golden Retriever named Tuesday, and involves the utilization of service dogs in helping to ease the physical and emotional pain of our returning war veterans.

On Nov 16th the good senator penned a commentary about this, A small way to give back to veterans who gave so much“.

One reason I ran for the Senate was to do right by our veterans, and my first piece of legislation was designed to address this epidemic of mental health issues, if in just a small way. I presented a Senate bill, signed into law last month, that creates a public/private partnership to share the cost of providing approximately 200 highly trained service dogs to veterans who have been wounded physically and mentally. The VA will study the benefits to these vets.

My strong belief is that these veterans will require less medication, reduced human care and fewer hospitalizations, and will become more productive citizens. To me, it’s enough that the dogs simply make these vets feel better. But I hope that the study will demonstrate a strong return on investment and that before long we will see an expansion of this program. …

I think of those veterans who survived battle only to struggle with wounds of war, both physical and mental. Many of them gave up two lives too. But we can do more than remember. We can act, and make a difference.

I am sure that Al is quite upset about this suit and how tough life really is for many of our disabled. This is not a new concern. Many people who have service dogs need to worry about their safety, as well as that of their service animal, as there is sometimes no way to escape the ignorance from what we refer to as human beings.

Amazingly, I can barely see a mention of this in the news, but was impressed by this Nov 24th article by Kevin Diaz in the Minneapolis, MN Star Tribune.

A disabled veteran who inspired Sen. Al Franken’s first legislative victory — a service dog program for disabled veterans — is suing McDonald’s for $10 million after allegedly being harassed, beaten, and told that he couldn’t take his service dog inside a fast food restaurant in New York City.

Luis Carlos Montalvan, a former Army captain who was wounded in Iraq, said he was confronted by restaurant workers on two separate visits, and beaten with garbage can lids on a third when he returned with a camera in hand.

Franken, in an e-mail message to Montalvan last week, called it an “awful, bizarre story.” …

Repaying sacrifice
Montalvan, 36, of Brooklyn, filed suit Oct. 28, a week after Congress approved Franken’s provision establishing a pilot program to pair 200 wounded veterans with service dogs from nonprofit agencies. In championing the legislation, Franken cited Montalvan and his service dog, Tuesday, whom he had met in a chance encounter at a presidential inaugural ball in Washington.

Franken said Friday that the incident underscores the problems of returning veterans. “Captain Montalvan made great sacrifices fighting for our country in Iraq,” Franken said. “I’m not entirely familiar with the facts of this case, but what I do know underscores both the need to help our returning veterans and to raise awareness and increase access for service dogs.”

Montalvan served two tours of duty in Iraq, suffering wounds in a knife and hand grenade attack that left him with spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Tuesday, his service dog, is a golden retriever who helps him with balance, mobility and emotional support.

I read that a group of veterans are planning to protest outside the restaurant today on Montalvan’s behalf. As soon as I learn something, I will provide an update here.

NOV 25 UPDATE: Click here to see the video of Luis, Tuesday and some supporters demonstrating at the respective McDonalds.

Here are two fabulous video clips detailing Captain Montalvan’s and Golden Tuesday’s wonderful working union.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

A small way to give back to veterans who gave so much

Ut oh … Lead & Arsenic in Dog Beds, Toys & Tennis Balls


In the last three years, HealthyStuff.org, a project of the Ecology Center, has conducted over 15,000 individual tests on over 5,000 common consumer products.  Their information represents the largest publicly available database of test data on toxic chemicals in consumer products. Currently, the U.S. government and product manufacturers are not providing this data to consumers.

HealthyStuff.org has tested over 400 pet products, including beds, chew toys, stuffed toys, collars, leashes, and tennis balls. Since there are no government standards for hazardous chemicals in pet products, it is not surprising that there were alarming levels of toxic chemicals found. The results are especially of concern to pets and children. Pets and children are frequently close to floor and commonly put products into their mouths. Exposures are greater, resulting in greater health concerns.

Highlights of Pet Product Sampling

  • 45% of pet products tested had detectable levels of one or more hazardous chemical, including:
  • One-quarter of all pet products had detectable levels of lead.
  • 7% of all pet products have lead levels greater than 300 ppm — the current CPSC lead standard for lead in children’s products.
  • Nearly half of pet collars had detectable levels of lead; with 27% exceeding 300 ppm — the CPSC limit for lead in children’s products.
  • One half (48%) of tennis balls tested had detectable levels of lead. Tennis balls intended for pets were much more likely to contain lead. Sports tennis balls contained no lead.

Pets are the canary in the coalmine in terms of chemical exposure. Cats groom themselves and lick off dust that has been shown to be heavily contaminated with hazardous chemicals. For example, bio-monitoring of cats has shown BFR exposure 23X higher than humans.

This is their press release below. Go on over and check out the database. I have to tell you that the results on purses for kids and also adults (made with plastics) was downright scary. Just look at the results for the Dora the Explorer Activity Tote and Attention Yellow Hobo purse.

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New Database on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products Reveals Lead, Arsenic, PVC, & Hazardous Flame Retardants in School Supplies, Pet Products, Cars, and More

HealthyStuff.org Urges Government and Manufacturers to Phase Out the Most Hazardous Substances Immediately. New Efforts to Reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Expected This Congressional Session

(September 16, 2009 – Ann Arbor, MI) A nonprofit environmental research organization released results today on over 900 common products tested for toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, chlorine (PVC) and arsenic. Using an XRF analyzer, researchers at the Ecology Center analyzed the ingredients of pet products, cars, women’s handbags, children’s car seats and more, creating the largest database yet of independent tests of toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

The results can be found on the user-friendly website: www.HealthyStuff.org. Visitors can look up products by manufacturer, brand, or product type and easily generate lists of highly rated and poorly rated products.

HealthyStuff.org tested for chemicals based on their toxicity, persistence and tendency to build up in people and the environment. Such chemicals have been linked to reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, liver toxicity and cancer.

“The more we test, the more we find that the presence of toxic chemicals is widespread in everyday consumer products,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center, who created the site. “It should not be the responsibility of public health advocates to test these products. Product manufacturers and legislators must take the lead and replace dangerous substances with safe alternatives.”

For the past several years the Ecology Center has spearheaded groundbreaking research on toxic chemicals in toys, cars and children’s car seats at HealthyToys.org and HealthyCar.org. HealthyStuff.org is a compilation of all of these findings and more.

New Key Findings From HealthyStuff.org:

  • Pet Products – HealthyStuff.org tested over 400 pet products, including beds, chew toys, collars and leashes. Since there are no government standards for hazardous chemicals in pet products, it is not surprising that alarming levels of toxic chemicals were found. One quarter of all pet products had detectable levels of lead, including seven percent with levels higher than 300 ppm – the current Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard for lead in children’s products.
  • Automobiles – HealthyStuff.org tested nearly 700 new and used vehicles, from 1980 to 2010 model year vehicles. The US-made Pontiac G5 and Chevy Cobalt rated best overall 2009 vehicles. Levels of some chemicals found in vehicles are 5-10 times higher than in homes or offices. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in their car every day, this can be a major source of toxic chemical exposure.
  • Children’s Car Seats – Infant and child car seats contain chemical additives that can have adverse health effects on babies and young children. Over half (58%) of car seats contain one or more hazardous chemicals, including PVC, BFRs and heavy metals. Three examples of car seats that had none of the chemicals tested for are: Baby Trend Flex-Loc; the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat; and the Graco Turbo Booster. Despite the toxic chemicals, it is vital to use a car seat for your child because they do save lives.
  • Back-to-School Products – HealthyStuff.org screened over 60 common back-to-school supplies, including backpacks, pencil cases, binders and lunchboxes. Far too many of these supplies are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and 22% contained detectable levels of lead. Overall nearly 90% of back-to-school supplies contained one or more chemicals of concern.
  • Women’s Handbags – HealthyStuff.org tested over 100 women’s handbags and detected lead in over 75% of the bags analyzed. Sixty-four percent (64%) of the bags contained lead over 300 ppm – the CPSC limit for lead in children’s products. Over half of the handbags contain more than 1,000 ppm lead.

Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act

In response to increasing consumer demand for safer products, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Bobby Rush are expected to introduce a new bill this Congressional session to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the current federal law for regulating chemicals. These reforms would phase out the most dangerous chemicals from the manufacturing process; require industry to take responsibility for the safety of their products; and use the best science to protect vulnerable groups. To date the EPA has required testing on only about 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals that have been on the market since the law was passed 33 years ago.

“A Made in the USA label should be a guarantee, not a warning,” said Charlotte Brody, National Field Director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition working toward toxic chemical policy reform. “This database of products is further proof that our system of testing and regulating toxic chemicals is broken. We have an opportunity to reform federal law this year and start putting common sense limits on harmful chemicals to protect the health of Americans.”

“HealthyStuff.org is an invaluable resource for busy parents who are concerned about toxic chemicals in children’s products,” said Mom’s Rising President Joan Blades. “But it shouldn’t be up to parents to look up every single item to find out if toxic chemicals are used. We need reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act now.”

HealthyStuff.org tested over 400 pet products, including beds, chew toys, stuffed toys, collars, leashes, and tennis balls. Since there are no government standards for hazardous chemicals in pet products, it is not surprising that there were alarming levels of toxic chemicals found. HealthyStuff.org results are especially of concern to pets and children. Pets and children are frequently close to floor and commonly put products into their mouths. Exposures are greater, resulting in greater health concerns.