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Service Dog Owner Spreads Message of Awareness

By: Mollie Lair Email
By: Mollie Lair Email

"We are very close. I couldn't function without him. I could not," says service dog owner Dawn Lucas.

A birth defect makes it extremely painful for Dawn to walk. For almost 10 years she's relied on a service animal to help her get around.

"Otter works two-fold. He's my physical service animal where if I didn't have him to pull my chair I would have to rely on other people to push me around and that's where I gain my 100% total independence. I'm totally 100% independent with him, and emotionally he's good for depression. He's naturally therapeutic," says Lucas.

The owner of a store on 13th Street denied her entrance because of her service dog.

"It bothers me. It upsets me because the laws specifically state and are put into place for people with disabilities," says Lucas.

And those laws say it's illegal to deny entrance to a service dog or its user.

"As a user of a service dog I'm allowed to enjoy the same things as a person without a service dog," says Lucas.

Owners also aren't required to show any paperwork certifying their service dog.

"I think awareness needs to be raised that people with disabilities are not the outcast because they're not different. They just have, their bodies are broken I guess you could say. And they're not special people. You know they're people just like you. They just have certain things on their bodies that don't work," says Lucas.

Dawn doesn't have any intention of suing the store. She just wants to live a normal life.

"I can't use my feet. I don't have the upper body strength to push the wheelchair. He's my legs and my arms. So when you're denying access to him, you're denying access to me. And that violates the civil rights right there," says Lucas.

The store owner says he didn't think Dawn's dog was an actual service dog, and that he would let her shop, if she proved the dog was legitimate with paperwork.

However, the Americans with Disabilities Act states it's illegal to ask for proof.

For more information on the laws of service dogs go to http://www.ada.gov.


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