A Louisiana hotel refused to honor a reservation for a family because they brought along a service dog for their teenage son who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires facilities generally open to the public to allow service dogs, but that seemed to matter little to a Best Western in Baton Rouge, WAFB reports.
The Vaughn family relies on Chip, a 65-pound Golden Retriever, to help 13 year-old Beau when he suffers seizures resulting from Landau-Kleffner Syndrome.
“He’s been at the hospital with Beau when Beau had to have surgery,” said Karen Vaughn, Beau’s mother, of Chip. “He was in the pre-operative room.”
“Chip alerts us to when Beau is having a seizure,” said Vaughn, who is an attorney who happens to specialize in rights for children with special needs.
She said she generally alerts hotels about Chip, even though she is not required to by law.
But the owner of the New Orleans Best Western seemed not to care.
“We got an email saying due to unforeseen circumstances, they will not be able to honor our reservations,” Vaughn told WAFB.
“Working through that they said, oh you’re bringing a pet and Best Western isn’t pet friendly.”
According to the ADA’s website, “service animals are working animals, not pets.”
“The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability,” it continues. “Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”
A worker at the hotel told WAFB that she was aware of the ADA law, but that it did not matter because the owner does not approve of dogs.
Vaughn said that Best Western’s corporate office has been in contact with her and offered to honor the reservation.
Too little, too late, she said.
“I’ve already booked with another hotel that’s understanding and happy to follow the law. I don’t want to go to a hotel where I have to force them to follow the law,” she told WAFB.