(66) Assert Your Disability Rights

Molly, the service dog

Golly, Miss Molly

A blog about a service dog and her veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the veteran and the family caregiver)

DOJ Fights for Disabled Rights

This week, I received an email from the Department of Justice, announcing an agreement between the US government and the Days Inn (Tulsa, OK, Tuscany Inn), about the denial of the Days Inn to provide accommodations to a veteran of the US Air Force and US Marines. The veteran, his service dog, and his family with four young children were denied lodging twice because of the service dog. The Inn cited its no-pet policy as a basis for denying the veteran and his family a room.

The United States government sued Sairam Enterprises (owner of the Tuscany Inn) for denying the veteran, his service dog, and his family accommodations. The US won. The consent decree reached by the US Department of Justice orders the following: 

Sairam will pay $5,000 to the family and will provide its employees with training regarding the ADA and the protections it provides to guests with service animals; it will also post signs and other announcements at its hotel stating its willingness to lodge travelers with service animals.

The lawsuit mentioned that the veteran experienced a series of disabilities in addition to PTSD. His service animal helps him with balance and retrieving objects. The animal also warns the veteran of and assists with panic attacks. The incident with the Days Inn triggered a serious panic attack in the veteran, which lasted two days. Living with a veteran with PTSD, I understand how serious this violation is and how devastating it can be on not just the veteran but also the family.

Kudos to the Veteran 

While I do not know the veteran of this lawsuit, I appreciate what it took to persist with a second attempt to reserve the room and then take action to file a complaint with the Department of Justice when he was denied a second time. He took the correct action and did attempt to remedy the problemDog biscuit and rose on pillow himself. When that did not work, he sought the help of the DOJ. As a result, another business opens its doors to ADA accommodations and more employees receive training that is positive for the disabled community. If you visit the Tuscany Inn in Tulsa with your service dog, you might even find a dog biscuit on the pillow.

Note: If you would like to be added to the DOJ mailing list, you can sign up at www.ada.gov. If you experience discrimination or are denied reasonable accommodations for your disability in a public place, you can file a complaint with the Justice Department at the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800 514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD) or on-line at http://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm.

The Service Animal is Not a Pet 

It is important for veterans with service dogs to take them to public places to practice the animals’ service and social skills. By doing this, the veteran maintains independence and the animal remains sharp. Just remember that your dog is a service animal and not a pet.

Pajama Day 

Miss Molly forgets her role as a service animal on days like today and wants to be a pet. Today is a Pajama Day. Since last night, snowfall reached the one-foot mark in our little alcove on Cheyenne Mountain. With no doctor’s appointments, we stay home in our pajamas well past noon. I am writing, William engages on social media, and Molly snores in the closet. William needs her to stand and steady himself after his recent battle with shingles and persistent back pain. While we want to let her sleep, she is his service animal and must perform her duties. A treat and a scratch behind her floppy ears remind her we love her regardless of her designation as a service animal.

Post your Comments:

Does your service animal assist you at home? Please comment below.

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

About the blogger

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her grandchildren.