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45 Years of Impact Spotlight

Advocating For Service Animals in Public Accommodations

A woman with post-traumatic stress disorder who was being treated as an inpatient and scheduled for surgery in a Philadelphia hospital contacted DRP after hospital staff told her that the service dog, who assisted with her post-traumatic stress disorder, did not qualify as a service animal and could not stay with her at the hospital.  The hospital threatened to have the dog removed by animal control.  A DRP attorney spoke with the patient advocate at the hospital, explaining that it appeared that the dog qualified as a service animal under the ADA.  The patient advocate then agreed to allow the dog to stay as long as someone took came to take care of it while the patient was having tests and surgery.

In 2020, a woman who uses a service dog for her neurological impairment contacted DRP when, at the last minute, she was told that her service dog would not be permitted to run a race with her.  The service dog is trained to assist the client in the event her disability makes her dizzy and/or results in a fall.  The service dog cushions her falls, alerting others in a medical emergency, guiding her, and retrieving medication.  The client had entered a half-marathon race scheduled for March in a Pennsylvania State Park.  After signing up for the race, she contacted the organizers to inform them that she would have her service dog with her.  The day before the race, the organizer advised her that she could not have her service dog with her during the race.  The organizer also blocked the client from signing up for other races on its webpage and threatened to have other race organizers block her from racing as well.  That same day, DRP contacted the race organizer to inform it that it was covered by Title III of the ADA and that it was illegal to bar the client from running the race with her service animal.  The organizer backed down and allowed the client to race the next day with her service dog and to rescind its block on the client’s registration for its other races.

In 2022, a client with neurological and cognitive disabilities used a service animal to assist in walking and remembering how to return home. The Client contacted DRP stating that two commercial establishments refused to permit her entry with her service animal. DRP advised Client of her rights and then contacted both establishments demanding reasonable accommodations for the Client.  The owner of each establishments issued apologies and agreed to permit the Client to enter the establishments with her service animal.