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In a recent trip from New York to Florida with my service dog, a trip I take quite often, I found that I had encountered more uneducated people about service dogs than I have ever encountered before.  My dog is always wearing a bright red service dog vest that is clearly marked with large black & white lettering that says “SERVICE DOG“, so she is clearly identified as a working dog. Being a mobility dog as well as an assistance dog, she is a large dog…….a Doberman Pincher to be exact. One of the smartest of all K9′s, capable of doing it all. They are loving, loyal family companions,  search and rescue dogs,  service and therapy dogs, and police and military protection dogs, and much more.

Most of my confrontations were at Service Stations or Mini Marts when I stopped to get gas, a cup of coffee, and use the facilities. I was usually stopped at the door with ” Stop! You can not bring that dog in here!” When I responded with the fact that my dog was a service dog and allowed in the store with me I was usually granted entry with scowling face from the store owner making me feel like someone breaking the law. A few times I gave them the phone number to the ADA so they could call and verify…….or I told them to call the police. They always backed down from calling. These stores need to educate their staff on laws concerning Service Dogs.

One time in the ladies room a woman was in there in with her child…….I was was waiting to use the Handicapped stall and was letting others go ahead of me to the other available stalls. This woman got into my face and rudely told me to leave the bathroom because her child was allergenic to dogs. I calmly told her to keep her child a safe distance from me and if she insisted my service dog leave the rest room than she could assist me on and off the toilet herself. She huffed and puffed, but she didn’t blow my composure down…….I stood my ground and she backed down and left. Another person that needs educating which I politely pointed out to her.

We stopped at two hotels, both were different hotels but belonged to the same quality chain, on our trip. The first hotel stopped me at the door stating I could not bring my service dog into the hotel. I showed my ADA Federal Law information card that summarizes the portion of the law that deals with service dogs and has it’s “800″ phone number on it. This did not appease them and they still wanted to refuse me a room. I than gave them the web site to ADA Federal Law information and the receptionist and the manager were still reluctant. I told them refusing me a room with my service dog was discrimination and the same as refusing someone a room that was in a wheelchair. Once satisfied…after a half hour of discussion they wanted to charge me an additional “pet fee”………I was about to hit the roof at that point but determined to “educate” these people. I finally did get a room and I am positive the next person that enters that hotel with a service dog will be greeted with more respect.

Second night……….nice reception from the front desk, but the room we were put into was to say the least,  horrible with non working facilities. Now, let me remind you….these are quality hotels chains charging  us $89 – $100 a night. So, we were moved to another room……again non working facilities……..moved again……..non working television set in this room. Being disabled, moving all our luggage from room to room to room is no easy task. Finally they said they had one LAST room…ok we moved there…….it was worse than the rest….black mold all over the bathroom, the front door did not close properly and was hard to lock and was just down right dirty.  This could not be the LAST room available since we were traveling mid week and the parking lot was just about empty. I think because we had a dog they kept giving us their worst rooms.  By this time we were so exhausted we just could not move to another room, so I called headquarters and put in a formal complaint.

Needless to say, I’ve not heard back from headquarters and they have received a nasty little letter from me. I’m still waiting to hear back from them…………probably never will.

Service Dogs provide a valuable service to their handicapped partners and to discriminate against them is despicable.

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