Sunday, February 25, 2018

Refused entry

Yesterday Trooper and I were refused entry to a north suburban park district gym facility where we had gone to watch my grandson play age group baskeball.

 "No dogs," said the park district cop. We tried to explain the Americans with Disabilities service dog laws to him, but he was adamant.

 So we went home and I immediately composed and sent the following letter to the park district boss and commissioners:


 "At 2:20 p.m. today, February 24, I was refused entry with my service dog at the [redacted] Center, where I had gone to watch my grandson play basketball in the park district’s local age-group league.

 "I am totally deaf and use a trained hearing service dog. He wears a bright orange vest with the patches of his trainer, Dogs for Better Lives in Central Point, Oregon. The patches declare his status as a 'Certified Hearing Dog.' His vest also carries a patch from the State of Michigan Division of Civil Rights attesting to his status as a registered service dog in that state.

 "A park patrol officer who gave his name as [redacted] refused us entry, saying that 'children might be allergic to dogs.'

"My wife and I explained that the Americans with Disabilities Act gave service dog teams full access to all public venues, but Officer [redacted] would not accept that statement. He cited a 'No Pets' sign on the front door of the [redacted] Center (attached) as justification for his act. We told him, to no avail, that a working service dog is legally not a pet.

"We asked to speak to an administrator in charge, and Officer [redacted] said he was in charge of the facility for the day.

 "I felt embarrassed and humiliated by Officer [redacted]'s actions. In my two years as a service dog handler, I have never been refused entry to a public venue.

"Witnessing the event was [redacted], a staff member at [redacted] Center, and Conan Kisor, my son.

"Just half an hour before, we had watched my granddaughter play basketball in a Park District league at [redacted] Recreation Center, where my dog and I were accepted and welcomed.

"Inasmuch as I believe education when possible is preferable to litigation, I am asking you to review the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations concerning service animals and to inform Officer [redacted] as well as all Park District staff of their legal obligations toward people with disabilities who use service animals.

"A useful source of information is

"I look forward to your speedy response."

 And it indeed was speedy. Within half an hour one of the park district commissioners personally arrived on our doorstep with an apology and the explanation that the reason for our refusal was honest ignorance.

Shortly later the following email arrived from the executive director of the park district:

 "I first want to personally apologize for [your] being refused entry to the [redacted] Center. We never want our customers to be embarrassed when coming to one of our facilities. I have talked to all of the supervisors that schedule employees at our facilities and have notified them of American Disabilities Act regarding service animals. They are now aware that service animals will be allowed in all Park District facilities. What happened today is not consistent with our standards and policies and your experience was clearly not what we would have wanted for you. Again, I’m sorry this happened, if there’s anything else I can help address, please do let me know."

And there, so far as I am concerned, the matter ends.

I have redacted the names because the park district's response was so swift, civil and satisfactory there is no point in public shaming.

 Now Trooper and I are looking forward to visiting the same facility next week to watch that basketball game.

No comments:

Post a Comment