Ask The Californian for Feb. 27

By The Bakersfield Californian | Sunday, Feb 26 2006 8:00 PM
Last Updated: Sunday, Feb 26 2006 8:20 PM

Does Kern still inspect pumps at gas stations for accuracy?

Q: When did Kern County stop inspecting gasoline pumps for accuracy, and why? The labels now read that the operator of the gas station is responsible for determining the accuracy of the pump’s delivery — it used to be that they had to pass a random yearly county inspection, no? Wouldn’t it be exceptionally easy for an operator to siphon off a fractional amount of the posted price of each gallon? (I know the vast majority of operators are honest tradespeople, but — dang! What if my local station owner isn’t?)

— Porter Jamison

TBC: Kern County still inspects gas pumps. The law says the Department of Agriculture/Measurement Standards must check Kern’s 355 gas stations every two years, and the department tries to visit them each year, said Manuel Villicaña, deputy agricultural commissioner/sealer.

Gas stations that pass random inspection get a county seal. The seal includes a disclaimer, warning motorists it’s the gas station’s responsibility to make sure pumps are charging people correctly.

“Just because we went out and inspected it this month, it could go out next month,” said Villicaña. “It’s still the operator’s responsibility to maintain.”

He encouraged consumers to call his department if they smell a rat at the gas pump. Call 868-6300 or e-mail

What are the rules governing pets in grocery stores?

Q: What are the health codes regarding animals in grocery stores? I am not talking about service dogs, but people’s pets. Recently I saw little yippers in Target and in Costco. The dog at Costco was in the baby seating area of the basket. Store employees ignored the dogs, but I find it unsanitary and unnecessary.

— Susan Blakley

TBC: Laws that govern “food facilities” prohibit animals with the exception of service animals, says Steve McCalley, the county’s chief environmental health officer. Target and Costco both fall under this distinction because food is sold in their stores.

However, businesses that serve the public must allow service animals inside their stores under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Association of Attorneys General formed a Disability Rights Task Force to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.

The italicized paragraphs are from the task force’s document titled “Commonly asked questions about service animals in places of business.”

The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, a business cannot insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.

Who knows whether these “yippers” that you speak of were service animals or not?

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