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Woman Claims Joplin Restaurant Disregarded Service Dog Rules - KOAM TV 7

Woman Claims Joplin Restaurant Disregarded Service Dog Rules

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Joplin, MO -

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog is an animal that has been trained to perform a specific job or task to help someone with a disability.  People are allowed to take their trained service animals with them into locations such as restaurants and grocery stories.

A comfort dog is used to provide...comfort...and does not necessarily fall under the protection of the ADA because it is not always trained to perform a specific job or task.

How does a person distinguish between a service animal and a comfort animal?  Is there any burden of proof for the animal's owner?

The way Amber Chrysler sees it...

"It's definitely something out there that I think people are almost ashamed of," says Chrysler.

Chrysler didn't want her face shown on television but she does want you to know about her struggles.  Her good pal, Clark, had her back during our interview.

"There's certain places I can't go just because I have too much anxiety," says Chrysler.

Clark is a service dog because besides calming anxiety...

"He interrupts my self harm," says Chrysler.  "His trigger is when I start to touch on my arm and it's in the motion of cutting.  He jumps up and interrupts that."

Chrysler says this bond, and rights, were violated at Taco Bell on Rangeline Road.

"She was like, that needs to be a service dog.  If it's not a service dog, you need to get out.  You can't have him in here.  I tried to educate her.  Technically, he doesn't even have to be vested.  She said no, if I want, I can ask you to produce paperwork," says Chrysler.

"I think it's a lack of information on the part of the businesses getting the information to their workers," says Tim Franks with On Command Canine Training Center in Joplin.

Franks trains service dogs.

There is no "official" certification for service dogs.  "None," says Franks, who also says businesses are only allowed to ask a customer:  Is your dog a service dog?  What kind of work does the dog do for you?

"She said we have a poster in the back talking about what the standards are and it does say they have to be vested," says Chrysler.  "After calling corporate, I found out those are really outdated."

The American Disabilities Act allows service dogs inside businesses and restaurants only if they don't create an issue of cleanliness. 

"He was by me the whole time.  He was vested," says Chrysler.

A Taco Bell representative says workers have been retrained in ADA compliance.  Franks wants the federal government to standardize service dog training.

"Once the dog meets those hours of training through that standardized training, then you won't have these questions from business owners because it's clear," says Franks.

The ADA only recognizes dogs and miniature horses as service animals.  On Command Canine Training Center offers ADA informational classes to business owners and workers.

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