Lisa Lima from Colorado trains service dogs and has a service dog of her own. So, she’s very familiar with the service dog laws in her country. Unfortunately, many people who own and work at businesses are not. Lima occasionally runs into disputes about her service dog when she goes out in public. During a recent visit to the Jurassic World exhibit in Denver, she felt embarrassed and discriminated against.
After lots of arguing, Lima’s family made it past skeptical security guards. Yet, the situation ruined the experience, so she wants to ensure that no one else has to go through that.
Dinosaur Adventure Ruined
Lima and her family were excited to experience the Jurassic World attraction. She had her service dog with her; a Dalmatian named Darwin. Lima gets severe migraines that can lead to sudden vision loss. Darwin can help guide her to safety and warn her when it’s about to happen.
Since Lima doesn’t look like she needs a service dog, staff members at the exhibit were suspicious. While her family was waiting in line, the employee asked her for a service dog ID. Lima didn’t have one on her because no identification is required by law. When she told them that, they called security guards over, and they began questioning her further.
“He continued to push back. I kept saying that he cannot ask me these other questions,” Lima said. “I told him; I’m not going to show you guys an ID card. That is not required by the ADA. It’s my right to be here and there’s no reason for me not to be here today. He basically then told me to prove it.”
Eventually, Lima pulled up the Americans with Disabilities Act on her phone to show them the laws. Even then, a staff member claimed they didn’t have to follow those rules because they’re a privately-owned business. Eventually, they let Lima through, but she felt bullied, berated, and publicly humiliated.
Speaking Up to Protect Others
Even though Lima thought the exhibit was incredible, she’s speaking up about the inconsiderate way security treated her. Situations like this happen far too often, so she hopes sharing her story can protect other people with service dogs.
“When a business tells me that I can’t come in with my medical equipment you’re hitting me. It’s not just about my dog,” said Lima, “you’re telling me that I can’t come in safely.”
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“Is this a service dog?” and “what task is this animal trained to perform?” are the only two questions businesses can legally ask. They cannot ask to see the dog demonstrate or inquire about the specifics of the person’s disability. Also, Lima says showing certification proves nothing because the paperwork is easy to fake.
Lima reported the incident but hasn’t heard much from the business. They haven’t responded to any of her calls, but they described the situation as “concerning through Facebook messenger.” They haven’t denied that it happened, but they also haven’t taken accountability. So, as much as Lima loved the exhibit, she doesn’t recommend it to others with service dogs.