Man with service dog repeatedly refused service

A recent topic of discussion in the community of people with disabilities has been the treatment of people who use service dogs. Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, under which a person with a service animal has a right to service, there has been a recent increase in businesses refusing service to people using a service dog. Some say this is a result of a rising trend of people pretending to have service dogs in order to receive certain benefits.

Of course, there are negative impacts on this trend for people with disabilities who legitimately use service animals. One example is Thomas Jacobs, of Columbia, South Carolina, who has epilepsy. His service dog alerts others when he has a seizure so that he can receive help and treatment. According to Jacobs, his service dog once saved his life after he bit his tongue during a seizure and would have died from blood loss if she hadn’t gotten help. His service dog accompanies Jacobs everywhere he goes, which has posed a problem as businesses have started refusing Jacobs service due to his service dog. Jacobs described his experiences to Columbia South Carolina’s WLTX 19, explaining, “I’ve had surgery, I’ve been home for a week and a half recuperating, and the first two times I go out I’ve got to deal with service dog incidents.” As explained in the video below, service dogs don’t just assist people with visible disabilities; service dogs are also trained to help people with disabilities that are not visible, such as PTSD, diabetes, or epilepsy. Yet is seems that there is a lack of awareness of this fact among some businesses.

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of DisAbility Rights Galaxy.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.