Woman with service dog runs into resistance at local restaurant
When Amy Hookey tried to enter a Chinese restaurant in Kenner with her service dog, Trigger, she was stunned by employees' reaction.
"'No dogs allowed,'" Hookey said, recalling what they told her. "And I said, that's fine, but she's a service dog. She's a medical alert service dog."
Trigger is her specially trained assistance dog that helps her deal with a very serious medical condition.
Hookey wanted to meet us at a dog park, so she could take Trigger's service collar off -- allowing the young pup to get some free time to play.
Otherwise, Trigger is all business.
"When I'm at home and my fiancée is not at home, if I pass out, [Trigger] goes to my door, my fridge, and presses a life alert button a life alert button, which calls for help," she said. "If I'm at work and my blood sugar goes low, she starts nibbling at my fingers, at my knees, at my heels when I'm about to be really low."
When it comes to the resistance Amy ran into at the restaurant, Susan Meyers, an attorney with the Advocacy Center, says similar situations happen far too often.
All establishments must follow laws set forth by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"It's privately owned places of business. So, it can be a restaurant, a hotel, a doctor's office, any place that you or I can go," Meyers said. "I think that there's ignorance and I think that there's also an assumption sometimes. Business owners are suspicious that a person might be trying to sneak in their dog that's not really a service animal."
Although, Meyers said more frequently, business owners don't know the law.
Nationally, advocates say statistics over confrontations at businesses are difficult to track, but to deny a service dog, can be considered discrimination.
"This really is a hugely important tool of independence for people with disabilities, and when you exclude someone's service animal, when you say, 'You can't come in here with that dog,' you really are saying to the person, 'You can't come in here,'" Meyers said.
Hookey hopes business owners will educate themselves on the law, and the importance of service animals.
"[Trigger is] literally a lifeline. I mean, it's federal and state law not to mention. It's like telling someone they can't measure their blood sugar, or they can't take their insulin. I mean, it blows my mind," she said. "[Trigger is] a life saver. She's my hero. I don't know what I would do without her."
Kenner Police officials confirmed responding the incident at the restaurant in question, but they said the establishment's owners acknowledged that they made a mistake.
Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.