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Augusta, Maine -- The Maine Human Rights Commission has partnered with a local media company and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop new and creative way to help explain what can be a contentious issue: what service and assistance animals are, and what rules apply to them and their owners.
Service and assistance animals provide much-needed support for people with disabilities by doing tasks that range from helping those with mobility issues navigate through traffic, alerting those with "hidden" disabilities of an oncoming seizure or panic attack, or activating emergency systems for those who cannot physically do so. The use of such animals, which keeps people with disabilities living and involved in their communities, is tightly regulated by federal and state civil rights laws, including the Maine Human Rights Act.
The Maine Human Rights Commission receives questions on a daily basis about service animals in public places and assistance animals in housing accommodations, as people strive to understand what animals are allowed and why. While the Commission does explain the applicable law, and has informational pamphlets on its website, it sought a less legalistic and more accessible way to inform the public about this issue. The Commission's new video does exactly what the Commission had hoped, as it explains -- in an engaging, attention-grabbing way -- the purpose of service/assistance animals and the rules that govern their use in public and housing spaces.
After first obtaining a HUD grant to work on the project, and then going through a routine state bidding process, the Commission contracted with Munzing Media of --- to develop and promote the video. Munzing Media worked closely with the Commission's Executive Director, Amy Sneirson, to create animation that would illustrate and draw in the general public about the complex topic of, and rules about, service and assistance animals.
An outreach campaign utilizing the Maine Human Rights Commission's website, Facebook page, and Twitter account, and Munzing Media's social media platforms, will promote the video to gain viewership. Click here to view the video.