Vern the guide dog’s future still in limbo

By From page A1 | March 23, 2011

Vern’s  got a new little brother but his home situation remains in limbo.

An outpouring of empathy and offers of adoption followed a Mountain Democrat article on the plight of Vern, the retiring guide dog whose owners were told that Vern needs to leave his home when a new guide dog moved in.

When Vern’s owner, Randy Cummings, got a new guide dog, a black Lab named Toronto, Vern retired to  a well-deserved rest and a part time job as a therapy dog for Cummings’ clients at the El Dorado Center for the Visually Impaired. The Cameron Park mobile home park where Cummings and Vern live has a policy in accordance with the California Registry of Mobile Home Residents that residents may have one pet and one pet only.

The park owner viewed the new retiree as a pet and Cummings and his girlfriend, Nikki Simpson, already had two cats. The cats were not new to the scene, having been accepted by the park managers for many years; Vern had been accepted because he was a guide dog and not a pet. But the arrival of a new dog was apparently the straw that broke the owner’s back. Park managers contended that the 9-year-old  Vern was now a pet and could no longer stay with his family.

“Once a guide dog, always a guide dog in my opinion, ” said David Brooks of the El Dorado County Public Defender’s Office. Brooks became interested in Vern’s fate and contacted Simpson to offer suggestions to resolve the issue.

“I’ve given a copy of the housing laws to the manager and the property owner, ” said Cummings, “and they gave them to the lawyer, but Nikki and I haven’t heard anything more from them.”

In the meantime, Toronto and Vern are enjoying each other’s  company and playing together, according to Cummings.

“Vern is happy and healthy and Toronto is working out well, learning the city and the buses,” said Cummings.

Many people in El Dorado County have offered their homes to Vern in the event that he must leave his home, but Vern’s fate is still up in the air.

E-mail Wendy Schultz at [email protected] or call 530-344-5068.

Wendy Schultz

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