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Woman with service dog is denied service at a Nevada,MO business - KOAM TV 7

Woman with service dog is denied service at a Nevada,MO business

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Federal law requires local governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the general public to allow service dogs, which is why one woman was surprised when she was denied service at the Taco Bell/ Kentucky Fried Chicken location in Nevada, MO, because of her service animals.

"We were very, very insulted and it was very threatening," said Shawn Abell, founder of Dogs Nation.

Abell is a service dog trainer at Dogs Nation.

On September 11, she and a colleague were heading home from a funeral for a veteran who used a service dog, when they stopped to eat at  the Nevada Taco Bell/ KFC and were told by an employee they could not dine there.

"As soon as we walked in, the girl at the counter, and it was an off time so it wasn't crowded, leaned across the counter and looked at us and said she had a problem with our service dogs," Abell said.

Abell says the animals were clearly marked as service dogs, but the employee still denied them service and became rude.

Some rude comments Abell remembers include, "I have customers to protect. They don't want dog hair in the food" and "I am unaware of the law, so I don't have to follow it."

"After we turned our backs and were leaving, she said 'you smell like your dogs too,'" Abell said.

Employees at the Nevada location declined an interview this afternoon and recommended that we contact corporate.

We contacted both KFC and Taco Bell, but have not yet received a statement regarding their policy on service dogs.

"The reason we're pursuing this is to help protect our service dog teams and every service dog team out there," Abell said.

Abell says other businesses have been much more welcoming.   

"We allow service dogs at our store because it's the right thing to do," said Nick Rodenberg, Assistant Manager, Shopco Hometown. "It's just part of customer service and it's also the law."

Service dogs, Abell says, give some people the confidence to go out in public despite their disability.

"We wouldn't want anything to happen to set those people back to where they can't go out of their homes again," she said.

Abell hopes to use her negative experience getting turned a way to encourage others to treat service dog teams, who are often wounded warriors, with the respect they deserve.

"It was very emotional and it was not a good ending to an emotional day, but we will make it positive," she said.

Staff members at Dog Nation say public access is the most important part of training service dogs, which generally takes about six months.
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