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Service dog discrimination

2587 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  scannergirl
I have a Service dog that I raised and trained myself, which I'm grateful that by law I am allowed to do. I've never been horribly concerned over access in the 7 years I've had him, as there would only be a dispute now and then, and usually pretty easily an understanding is reached.

Well, lately it seems to have gotten worse. Two years ago I had a horrible dispute with a restaurant, who demanded all these illegal questions. That one was brought on because I had his vest at home, with a busted buckle. We went to court over it just last month, and to my horror, I lost. They used the tactic of saying my dog was dirty, smelly, and wandered around sniffing tables. Plus that I was giving "attitude" and disruptive. (Gee, I wonder why?) I have no idea why the judged ruled the way he did. He said it was not having enough burden of proof. My lawyer thinks it was our hostile witness, who changed his story from his deposition, which said it was because I had a dog with me, to my behavior.

Now this past weekend, I went to an art event, that's sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, and benefits people with disabilities. Some volunteer in charge of the entrance demanded to see "paperwork" on my dog. I tell him he's owner trained, that's my right, and he isn't allowed to ask for certification. He said he begged to differ. Tried to say this wasn't the public. Mocked my law cards, asking where I got them, off the internet? And get this, the guy was a lawyer, and claimed he was an ADA one! (for businesses, though). The security off duty cop there was no help, either, saying they would physically remove me. I insist they call the real police. Meanwhile, I drop the laminated law card, and Borias goes to pick it up for me. It's really hard to pick up flat thin objects, but he did it. All these folks around, and nobody at all was understanding. Nobody wanted to get involved. How humiliating can you get...
Well, almost an hour later, they suddenly seemed to be granting me access, though vague about it. The lawyer volunteer said that it seemed I wanted to be arrested and carted off, and he didn't want me to have the satisfaction or something. Ugh. I wasn't sure what to do at that point, so I did go in, with just an hour left for the show. I filed a police report with the campus police, as it was held on a university.

But now this is an strange situation. I would love for this jerk to be penalized for his behavior, but you can't pursue civil penalties against an individual I'm told. That means it would have to be the Kiwanis that are responsible. A charity that helps people with disabilities! It's not their fault, I'm sure this guy was acting on his own understanding. Er..misunderstanding. I guess I should just write a letter to the Kiwanis and let them know what happened.

I have detailed posts on these incidents on my blog.

Tami and Borias
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some people are just out of line. Not like you were going to let your partner (you dog ) do any harm to people or do something stupid. People aslo don't look at the bigger picture of thing. And good for you an the self training. I was wondering if I could ask you on a few questions on that. Keep doing what you are doing. At least you are trying to make some difference in this wold. Please tell the pup good boy for me.
I would write to Kiwanis International and explain to them what happened to you and your service dog at an event sponsored by them.

They may not have the ability to pursue any kind of action or justice against the volunteers, but hopefully, they will be able to brief their volunteers better in the future so they understand the access rights of people with service dogs at Kiwanis functions. You may also get an apology - which isn't much, but it's something you deserve for being treated that way.
Isn't there some sort of documentation you should be carrying around for your service dog - home trained or not? It may be legal in your state to home-train a service dog, but I run across people on Craigslist and online all the time that want a dog they can "take out with them" to restaurants, shopping, etc.

While we can understand the difference between service dogs and regular pets, I would always carry something on me if he was a service dog. I would also, as above, write to Kiwanis International.
Quote:Isn't there some sort of documentation you should be carrying around for your service dog - home trained or not?
The ADA (Americans with Disabilites Act) does not require service animal users to carry any kind of specific information or documentation on their animals. Here is what it says specifically -

Quote:Q: What is a service animal?

A: 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.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities.

Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.
I have been to the original poster's site previously and she is a wheelchair user. Unlike some disabilities that are "invisible", such as epilepsy or diabetes, there should be no question as to whether the dog is used to mitigate a disability in her case.

Her dog is also vested (at least in most pictures I've seen on the site), and therefore clearly identified as a service dog.

And she provided the volunteer in question a copy of the ADA access laws, which can be downloaded and printed from the ADA website at

I don't know whether her state requires dogs to be tested / certified by a state agency, or whether any state or county authority issues a specific "service dog" tag to animals registered as service dogs - some states / counties do, others do not. Under the ADA, neither is required.

The volunteer could have (legally) asked her: what does your dog do? Can you show me a task your dog is trained to do? She could have directed her dog to perform a task on command that helps her in daily life and that should have ended all questions as to whether her dog is a service dog or not.
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My wife is actually keeping a mental list of "service dog" friendly entities in our area. (Maybe I should make a site on this?).

Delta airlines is great.
Continental airlines are horrible
Seaworld is over-accomidating (double paws up!)
Bush Gardens is not so great
Originally Posted By: DraggarMy wife is actually keeping a mental list of "service dog" friendly entities in our area. (Maybe I should make a site on this?).

Delta airlines is great.
Continental airlines are horrible
Seaworld is over-accomidating (double paws up!)
Bush Gardens is not so great
You know, that would really be great, for all cities! To have a website for SD users to go to, and see where they might have a problem, and who is really great. I've taken to complimenting business owners/managers who ask the proper way, and in a respectful way. It really means a lot to me, now. I can definitely compile a list. And with other people contributing, that could be really great!

Then it's also like the communal embarrassment thing, listing businesses who are jerks. It would be good if others could see that this lawyer claiming to be an ADA lawyer, knew so little about the ADA. If I were a business, I wouldn't want to hire him to cover my bum in a suit.

On a side note, me and Borias got some good press today. On the news. We got profiled on CBS, which ties in with America's Greatest Dog. It's at under "your stories", then on the hot button, there's more footage. I can't believe right when they say he's my SD, they show him when he was "talking" to me.
...he's SUCH a GSD!
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That was a great video! He looked like he was having fun when yall were running.
Quote: Bush Gardens is not so great
We have never had a problem taking the dogs -- SD or SDIT -- to Bush Gardens. Never had so much as a raised eyebrow going into any of the shops or anywhere else. They have a couple of dedicated potty areas for the dogs that are located on the little handout map given to you when you first enter.

The first time going in was the longest as we had to purchase our yearly passes. After that it was walk through the pass gate, up to customer service to tell them how many dogs were coming in (we only ever took one or two in at a time), and they would tell you have a nice day. We were never asked if the dogs were SDs/SDITs. I am sure that if the dogs' status was in doubt, we would have been questioned as to if they were SDs and what their trained tasks were, and if unkept looking or were not acting properly they would have been turned away. In such a crowded noisy place as this, I am 100% for the extra look to protect the public from unsuitable dogs.
Tami- that video was the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. Thanks for posting a link to it.
Hope you are able to continue educating people along your way.
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