Folks, guess what happened to me?! Earlier last month, I and my ever-faithful service dog, Zues, were in Anniston, Alabama visiting my wife who has been in the hospital for quite some time. We were in the Regional Medical Center and as I was leaving with Zues in tow, a Security Officer called out to me.
He said, “What is the dog for?” By now I am very versed in handling these situations because of the lack of education about the American’s Disability Act. So, I turned toward the Security Officer and stated, “You are allowed to ask me two questions by law. Is that a service dog and what is he trained to do? And yes he is a service dog.”
The Security Officer then told me to show him documentation. I stated, “No sir, you cannot ask for that. But, you need to know you are violating the ADA laws as we speak.” This man was very professional about the entire interaction, so folks please don’t get angry. I handled it, I felt, with a very diplomatic stance.
As I stood there explaining to this Security Officer about the law, he began to inform me that he was trained in this area and that he could require documentation. I informed him he was incorrect and that he should telephone the Police. He did not call them upon my request. Instead he debated with me for about five minutes before he noticed Zues’ identification tag and read the ADA Law and Department of Justice’s phone number on the ID Card.
After that he backed off, but I did not let up because of all the trouble I could see coming for another like myself. I felt bad for the Security Officer but I did inform him he had not been trained to standard and I would be filing an ADA complaint against his agency of work. I also stated I did not want to get him into any trouble and that he handled himself in a very professional manner but I wanted the people who trained him to know the ADA Laws and for his agency to expect to be contacted by the DOJ. No man or woman should have to be penalized because their supervisor is ignorant of the law.
Now, why did I share this with my readers? It is because there are a few of my readers who have service dogs that will one day have this very challenge thrown into their path. The first thing to remember is do not become confrontational but become diplomatic. Remember, raising the voice will only drown out the message. Be courteous about the situation, even if the one breaking the ADA Law is being a headache.
Take note of everything said or done, names, times and the location because when the reporting is done, it should read as if the reader was there. Go to www.ada.gov and file the complaint.
I hope all is well with everyone and Happy Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful for.
By: Joel Allen