Society

Hotel Tells Family They're Not Welcome Due To Service Dog

| by Jonathan Wolfe

A North Carolina family’s reservation at a Baton Rouge hotel was cancelled after the family told the hotel they would be bringing a service dog for their son. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses are not allowed to turn people away because of a service animal.

Karen Vaughn’s son, Beau, has a form of epilepsy called Landau-Kleffner Syndrome. His service dog, a Golden Retriever named Chip, is always at his side and is trained to alert Beau's family when he has a seizure.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Vaughns are not required to inform a business that Chip will be accompanying them during their visit. The Vaughns typically choose to do so out of courtesy, but that politeness did not pay off for them recently.

"We got an email saying due to unforeseen circumstances, they will not be able to honor our reservations," Karen Vaughn told WAFB. “Working through that they said, 'Oh you're bringing a pet and Best Western isn't pet friendly.'"

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Karen Vaughn is an attorney specializing in the rights of children with disabilities, so she was well aware that the family’s service dog is not a legitimate reason to cancel a reservation. When she told hotel employees this, they said they were aware of the law, but that “workers can’t go against what the owner says.”

A week later, Vaughn was called by Best Western and told that the hotel reversed course and would honor the reservation. It was too late, though.

"I've already booked with another hotel that's understanding and happy to follow the law," she said. "I don't want to go to a hotel where I have to force them to follow the law."

Source/Photo Source: WAFB