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Contrary 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,
www.ada.gov/fact_on_complaint.htm You may also file a complaint by E-mail at
For information see:
Resolving ADA Complaints Through Mediation: An Overview
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
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'
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
Video on the left is the combined video - Watch it on YouTube:
You can also send these links via email, or just link to this page
Traveler's Lodge, Atco, NJ (part 1 of 2)
Traveler's Lodge, Atco, NJ (part 2 of
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
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:
You can also send the link via email, or just link to this page
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
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
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
Post Office Box 32159 Newark, New Jersey, 07102
Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides services to qualifying
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
Ninja - My Service
Dog - and a Special Message from the Webmaster
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.
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:
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
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?
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
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)