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Bern woman, Kristen Torchia, claims Schuylkill Valley School District discriminated against therapy dog, Lucy, because of breed

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Oct 14 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 15 2012 10:50:28 PM CDT

A Bern Township woman is taking her fight against a local school district to Facebook.

BERN TWP., Pa. -

A woman in Bern Township took her fight against a local school to Facebook.

The woman wanted to volunteer her therapy dog, Lucy, to work at the school.  But she said Lucy was turned away because she's a pitbull.

She's claiming discrimination, but the school has a different story.

Lucy loves to give kisses.  One of her owners, Angelina goes to Schuylkill Valley Elementary School.

"I wanted to show my daughter what it's like to volunteer," said Kristen Torchia.

Torchia thought Lucy could help kids read and brought Lucy in for an interview with the school's clinical psychologist.

"Stated herself, 'Wow, they get such a bad rap. Look how wonderful she is," said Torchia.

Torchia said Lucy even met the principal.

"The principal happened to be dealing with a  7 year-old boy who was crying didn't want to go into his classroom," said Torchia.

Lucy was there for an interview, but ended up working.

"Literally, within five minutes this little boy got up and followed Lucy down the hall to the classroom," said Torchia, "She acted like you would want a therapy dog to act. She sat there she had 15 hands on her at one time and she, just like Lucy does, took it in absorbed it all loved it and her job was done."

The school even put it in writing, how perfect Lucy was, but soon another email came.

"We're sorry we wasted your time the superintendent has decided it is due to her breed," said Torchia.

The school principal said they did have initial concerns about Lucy's breed, but the overriding reason is that they already have a therapy dog and don't need another one.

Still, Kristen has started an online campaign called Letters for Lucy on Facebook.

"Lucy will carry on and continue to be an ambassador to her breed," said Torchia, "And continue to share the joy and give her pitbull kisses it doesn't have to be at this school."