Service Dog Rights

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Service Dogs & Your Rights
Lodging Discrimination
Webmaster Sues Red Carpet Inn, Berlin NJ

Track your dog or pet in real-time with a GPS Tracker

 
Handicapped persons with service dogs not allowedContrary to what many people believe, there is no central agency or organization that "officially" certifies a dog as a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal. My dog Ninja is BOTH - and she is a true dog hero to boot! The Americans with Disabilities Act  (42 U.S.C. 12181; 28 C.F.R. 36.302.) requires all places of public accommodation to "modify their policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal" by a person with a disability. Violation of the law is a CIVIL RIGHTS violation equivalent to the bus driver telling Rosa Parks to "go sit in the back of the bus", and it can result in arrest, very heavy fines, lawsuits by Department of Justice on behalf of the victim, and even padlocking of the business by Federal authorities.

To learn more about filing an ADA complaint, visit www.ada.gov/fact_on_complaint.htm You may also file a complaint by E-mail at ADA.complaint@usdoj.gov

For information see: Resolving ADA Complaints Through Mediation: An Overview ||| Brochure PDF

The reason I posted the following videos is not only to illustrate how widespread this discrimination is, but to show every disabled person with a Service Dog that he or she has the RIGHT to go where anyone else goes, accompanied by their Service Dog, and to show that "getting in the face" of these morons who are violating your rights, can sometimes get you a room with your dog. For the times that it doesn't; well, do what I did - ANTICIPATE that they're going to refuse you a room, and have your cell phone camera running when you walk in the door. People who violate the law and think it's their prerogative to do so, won't care if they're being video recorded. If you sue, once their lawyer sees the video, he will advise his client to settle out of court and not go to trial - if they do go to trial and you have ONE person like ME on the jury, You're gonna' GET PAID! IGNORANCE OF THE LAW AND STUPIDITY ARE NO EXCUSE IN A COURTROOM.

 

Traveler's Lodge, 703 White Horse Pike, Atco, NJ, 08004 - (856) 768-4442

  The video on the left is FULL VERSION of two videos (links listed immediately below) shot 6 months apart (the video says 4 months), in which the Traveler's Lodge in Atco, NJ refused to rent me a room because I had a Service Dog with me. It is the first of a series of such videos, done to illustrate the problem that many disabled people are having with motel / hotel lodging, and even with apartment rentals because they have a Service Dog. YouTube has lots of videos of this nature, but I am compiling these as evidence for a Blitzkrieg of lawsuits that will hopefully shake up the foreign-owned motel owners around where I live (South Jersey).


Video on the left is the combined video - Watch it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/56JcJKUdZNM
You can also send these links via email, or just link to this page

Traveler's Lodge, Atco, NJ (part 1 of 2)
http://youtu.be/2Ko-HwsS4sk

Traveler's Lodge, Atco, NJ (part 2 of 2)
http://youtu.be/3eGq1sQUh-E

The sign at the front desk reads ".... any kind of animal". Well, they're about to get an education from the DOJ that there is an exception to their self-proclaimed policy!

My first visit to the Traveler's Lodge in Atco, NJ was March 2014, where I was refused a room (first part of the video). After a while (four months or so), I decided to go back to  to see if anything had changed with their "no animals" policy. I was not surprised when they refused to rent me a room, but after being threatened with a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and after talking with the owner on the phone (out of range of our cameras and microphones), the guy behind the desk (who looked like The Walking Dead) agreed to rent me a room. When he (reluctantly) agreed, I immediately declined his offer and walked away.

The sad part of all of this is that most people would not have stood their ground as I did, and would be left without a place to stay. I will bet "dollars to donuts" that if a blind man with a white cane, dark glasses, and seeing-eye dog walked in there tomorrow, they would refuse to rent him a room.

 

Red Carpet Inn,  1036 Rt. 73 S., Berlin, NJ, 08009 - (876) 768-5353

The US Department of Justice has taken action on this complaint, and as of April 2015, procedures are under way to enter into dispute mediation using the Key Bridge Foundation.

In March, 2014, this is the first motel I tried that refused to rent me a room because of my Service Dog. Unfortunately, I didn't know I would be turned away, and so I have no video to post here as the "first occurrence". However, I believe I compensated for that lack of foresight by what was done in this video.

First, I get refused a room because of a "no pets" policy, then when she talks to whoever she talked to, I get told that there is something wrong with every room and the maintenance crews are working on the problem; there are no rooms available.

After I get back home approximately 30 to 45 minutes later, I call the motel from a VOIP phone (which changes the sound of your voice a bit) and was able to elicit an admission that there were four rooms available for a "party of 8; four couples" coming in from Atlantic City.

Watch on YouTube: 
http://youtu.be/xQhC4uo8qAA
You can also send the link via email, or just link to this page

 

UPDATES

After trying to file a Civil Rights complaint locally, I found out why it is no wonder why these types of cases never get filed, and people who violate the law are never held accountable.

On October 2, 2014, we went to the Berlin Twp Police Department to file a Civil Rights complaint against Red Carpet Inn. I spoke with Police Officer D. Lattanzi who told me to go to Camden, NJ Municipal Courthouse, because Civil Rights matters were not the purview of the local police. So we got in the Jeep and drove to Camden. They told us to go back to the local police. The woman at the Civil Court desk in Camden was very helpful, however, as she gave me a packet of information on how to file a CIVIL lawsuit for money damages, saying that I'll probably need an attorney to file this type of action correctly.

When I got back, I decided to call DOJ directly. Save yourself a phone call. Listen to what the ADA Information Line: (800) 514-0301 told me. I then tried to contact Camden County Legal aid, but got the automated circle-jerk phone system which took me absolutely nowhere (listen here).

I then contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (973) 642-2084 and was given this Web address by the recorded phone message for information on how to file complaints: www.ACLU-NJ.org/complaints (which is a dead link).

The correct link is: https://www.aclu-nj.org/yourrights/fileacomplaint/ I could not find an email address to file a complaint by email, so I had to snail-mail them the paperwork at:

American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
Post Office Box 32159 Newark, New Jersey, 07102

Contact Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides services to qualifying low-income residents.

Of course, I did email the complaints to US DOJ and to ACLU of New Jersey. On April 6, 2015 US DOJ responded with a letter I received two days later (April 8), asking me to enter into binding arbitration with Red Carpet Inn using The Key Bridge Foundation as mediators. I agreed, because there is no cost to me, and if I don't walk away happy, US DOJ will sue on my behalf.
 

 

Ninja - My Service Dog - and a Special Message from the Webmaster

 
 

This is a short photo / video collage where I show off my Service dog Ninja - she keeps me sane when everybody's trying to drive me nuts. She's a hero dog, like my Service dog Rocky before her.

 

 

We get into some funny antics, and I spoil her rotten. Of course everybody love their dogs, but mine were always special. You'll be laughing at the shenanigans, and hopefully will be touched by the message that follows.

 

Watch on YouTube:  http://youtu.be/72SlMvcOP5Q

You can also send the link via email, or just link to this page

 
Service dogs do not have to wear special equipment or tags (but it helps distinguish a Service dog from a pet), and the law does not require you to carry any special ID. If you are denied access to a public place because of your Service dog, you are perfectly within your rights to call the police.

In order for me to avoid being given "the Third Degree" by every schmuck in God's creation, the man who trained my dog Ninja gave me a plastic laminated ID card with the dog's photo on it, and big blue letters that say "Access Required by Law". He does not have the equipment to make laminated ID cards, and perhaps he ordered it from someone who does. The ID is impressive, but it means BUPKIS because there is no State or Federal agency that "certifies" a dog as "Service Dog", or "Emotional Support Animal", or "Therapy Dog", etc., and so it is more-or-less your word, and the task or function your dog performs for you that determines if the dog is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or if the dog is merely a pet. In order for you to take an ESA dog on a commercial airline flight, you will need to show proof that you have a disability for which an ESA dog is required. An ESA (Emotional Support Animal) can fly with you in the cabin, whereas a "seeing eye dog" may be required to fly in the cargo hold. There are differing opinions on this, and until the Department of Justice figures out a way to sort it all out, those of us who need these companion animals of necessity have to become part-time lawyers.

Many people are simply ignorant of the law (and even the law is ignorant of the law), and if you want to educate them, you can show both identification for your dog and a copy of the federal regulations that allow you and your dog access to public places. Seeing the law in black and white almost always opens doors.

Once in a while, unfortunately, even documentation won't sway people who are ignorant of the law and are determined not to learn. A good friend of mine was fond of saying,
"Stupidity is the pursuit of ignorance". A man who was denied a room in a San Francisco hotel because he had a guide dog produced a copy of the California law prohibiting discrimination, but the manager still refused to allow him to check in. Both sides called the police, who not only arrested the manager for denying access to the disabled (a misdemeanor in California, as it is in many other states) but found the man and his dog a discounted room at a much better downtown hotel.
(San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 6, 1988.)

A Motel / Hotel, or other public place can ask two questions when you enter with a Service dog:
1) Is that a Service Dog?
2) What does the dog do for you?

They CANNOT BY LAW, ask you what your specific disability is (although you are free to tell them if you want to), and they CANNOT BY LAW ask you to provide proof of your disability (if the disability isn't obvious). ESAs and Psychiatric Service Dogs that provide support to people who are prone to seizures, or episodes of flashbacks due to PTSD, and appear to the public as just another pet. These dogs are NOT PETS, although we love them and spoil them, and shower them with affection, and they reciprocate the love and devotion; these dogs are VITAL to the well-being of their handlers, and I'm afraid it is going to take a lot of Public Service Messages and motel managers being sued in Federal Court to finally make the public aware of and sensitive to the needs of those whose lives would be drastically more difficult if it weren't for our Service Dogs.


To file an ADA complaint by mail,
download Americans with Disabilities Act Complaint Form (PDF) and mail it to:

US Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section 1425 NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530

To file an ADA complaint by fax, you may fax the form to: (202) 307-1197
You may also file a complaint by emailing the completed Complaint Form (PDF) to ADA.complaint@usdoj.gov.

If you have questions about filing an ADA complaint, please call:
ADA Information Line: 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY).
Main Section Telephone Number: 202-307-0663 (voice and TTY)

 

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