In Your Corner: Veteran's Service Dog Turned Away

By Ryan Elijah

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 8, 2010 at 4:49 PM EDT

About 6 months ago the Veterans Affairs of Fort Wayne arranged for Andy Long to have a service dog. The disabled veteran has failing health and his dog, Buddy, has provided him great comfort. "he's my boy, I cherish him very much", said Andy Long

During our 30-minutes with Andy, I almost forgot Buddy was there as he sat quietly on his lap, but 3 weeks ago Andy was denied a local medical appointment and Buddy was given as the reason why.
"they didn't want anything to do with me or with my dog. It hurt my feelings" said Andy.

Andy and Ramona Long say it's the first time Buddy hasn't been allowed where they go. The dog wears a vest and they have paperwork that includes a copy of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The act says that a dog must be allowed in virtually any business that serves the public, if that dog is needed by a person for a disability. That includes restaurants, medical offices and even hotels that might have "no pets" marked. A service or guide dog isn't considered a pet.

When we contacted the local medical office where Andy went, the Doctor told us he felt badly for the miscommunication and said he certainly would have seen Andy if he knew of his situation and need for the service dog. Fort Wayne's VA office also contacted the office to make sure they were clear about what the law says about service dogs. Andy was eventually treated by another doctor in the group. His wife says it was important to come forward as a reminder about the rights of service dogs.
Ramona Long "there isn't any place that I know of that can legally refuse a disabled person that needs a service dog, and they can't charge more".
With his fears of being away from home and upcoming dialysis treatments in Indianapolis, Andy is counting on Buddy to comfort him. While businesses do have the right to deny a service dog in special cases of public safety or health, The Americans with disabilities act clearly states that as long as Buddy's with Andy, he's welcome.

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