Service Dog Owner Claims Discrimination

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A Johnson City woman claims that she was discriminated against for bringing her service dog inside a store.

According to the Americans with Disability Act, state and local governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations that serve the public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.

One woman she was not allowed to do so when she was shopping at the Goodwill. Rose Holowka is dealing with a disability. "I was in a car wreck back in 1992 which caused seizures that developed into epilepsy and have partial complex seizures," she explained.

Her service dog Honey makes things a little easier, but we learned that the law makes it a little harder. ?About a month ago my husband and I went to the Goodwill, and we were approached by their supervisor. We were told that we had to leave or show certification or documentation for the dog," said Holowka.

Unlike being blind, Holowka doesn't have a visible disability and she says that makes it harder to convince people.

Federal law does not require folks to show proof an animal is a service dog. State representative Jon Lundberg says places are not allowed to ask. ?You can't ask to see that,? says Lundberg, ?This is not like 'let's see you driver's license, let's see your dog credentials.' It doesn't work that way, it wasn't designed to work that way."

Although it wasn't designed that way, it's put places like Goodwill in a very tough position. With the animals not being required by law to wear a vest or dog tag, it makes it hard to tell which dog is a service dog and which isn't.

We spoke with a representative from Goodwill who said that with the right paperwork they'd be happy to allow them in, but until then, their policy says no pets allowed.

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