A Wyoming disabled veteran is facing criminal charges after a hotel manager tried to kick him and his family out of the hotel for having a service dog.
Wounded during a 2012 IED explosion in Afghanistan, Jason White, had physical injuries including traumatic brain injury and spinal wounds and was left with severe PTSD. In an attempt to help the disabled veteran, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs provided him with a service dog named Camo.
White and his family traveled from Wyoming to Florida to complete Camo’s training from the program. When they checked into their hotel room late at night, Camo ate something on the floor and began vomiting violently. White ran to the front desk and asked hotel manager, Vinit “Vinnie” Patel, what his dog could have eaten.
The manager became irate and demanded White immediately pack up his family his sick dog and vacate the premises.
“Service animals are supposed to be allowed into any business or area where the general public is allowed to be,” said Jason Quick, a disability attorney. “[Under Title III of the ADA], there is no requirement that the animal be certified or that the person carry papers or documents to substantiate their disability or the service animal itself.”
White responded by calling the Lee County Sheriff’s Office himself, hoping they would prevent Patel from kicking his family out in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the LCSO report, deputies spoke with Patel but he told the deputies that other service dogs he has allowed there have come with certificates and that this one did not. The report states: “Vinit stated that due to the couple not having a certificate for the dog, he did not believe the dog to actually be a service dog and he did not want them in his hotel.”
White remained calm until it became clear that he, his family, and his sick service dog were going to be unjustly kicked from the hotel. He admits he lost his calm then and his actions led to him being charged with battery and destruction of property for kicking over a television and pushing Patel.
White’s wife, Danielle, packed up their daughter Savannah and the still ill Camo and found an emergency veterinary hospital. After three hours, Camo was recovering and Danielle was able to finally take her family, minus Jason, to the nearby Holiday Inn Express in Fort Myers.
The manager of that Holiday Inn Express, Alexa Hardin, said the hotel does not accept pets but the managers are all properly instructed in the ADA requirements. She took it upon herself to contact local businesses such as pet stores and restaurants to collect gift certificates for the Whites.
“I’m sure they spend money they did not plan to,” Hardin told local reporters.
Carol Borden, a spokesperson for Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, said that paperwork is not necessary for a service dog under the ADA. “Certificates are not required,” she said. “There are only two questions they can ask, ‘Is this a service animal?’ and ‘What is the dog trained to assist you with?’ Anything else is a violation of the ADA.”
—Courtesy of Controversial Times