Society
Society

7-Year-Old Autistic Boy Not Allowed At Drive-Thru Animal Park Over Service Dog

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A North Carolina mother is accusing a Mooresville wildlife ranch of discriminating against her 7-year-old son by banning dogs.

“Thor is an autism service dog,” Ashley Collard told WSOC-TV. “Ethan has autism.”

Collard says Ethan wanted to go to Lazy 5 Ranch, where visitors can drive through and feed exotic animals. When she called the ranch, an employee told them no dogs, even service dogs, are allowed.

Thor goes everywhere Ethan goes, and, as part of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Ethan is entitled to any service offered to a non-disabled person without having to leave Thor at home.

“Thor makes it so Ethan can access places,” Collard said. “So by not allowing Thor, they're not allowing Ethan access.”

The owner of Lazy 5, Henry Hampton, says the decade-old rule is to ensure safety.

“We have had one very bad experience, about 10 years ago, where a couple let a dog get out in the drive thru and the zebras killed it immediately,” Hampton said.

He said the family could leave Thor in the car, but he can’t travel into the drive-thru.

Collard says that’s not enough and that Lazy 5 is breaking the law.

“They need to allow access to all people with disabilities and not pick and choose who they want,” Collard said. “It's a public place. They need to allow everyone to go.”

Sources: WGHP-TV, WSOC-TV

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