WACO, Texas – One Central Texas man has been denied entry on the McLennan Community College campus and a number of other local businesses because he has his service dog with him.
Business owners say they want to see a service dog vest or an ID – but according to the man, it’s not required.
“It gets a little tiring,” says Robert Singer. “He said, ‘You can’t be here with that dog!'”
Singer says his service dog Gracie is trained, but doesn’t wear a vest and shouldn’t have to.
“Establishments needing to understand the spirit of the service animal regulations,” Singer says.
Some local businesses say otherwise.
“It’s a lot less hassle for them to have the vest or the paperwork then it would be to argue about it,” says Mark Moore, employee of Portofilo’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Waco.
“I mean, you should have documentation ready,” says Amy Martin, employee of the Cameron Trading Company in downtown Waco.
They say even if it’s not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, it helps them identify the real from the fake.
“I tell them that it’s your right and we respect that, but it would make it a whole lot easier for us to believe you,” Martin says.
According to the ADA:
“Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”
Singer says he thinks businesses need to be better trained to spot service dogs and will know based on the answers the owners give them.
“‘Is that your service? Is that your service animal? What jobs or work tasks does it perform?’ If they understand the regulations, then they should answer appropriately. If we don’t, then they can say, ‘It’s time for you to leave,” Singer says.
FOX44 tried reaching out to MCC officials, but no one was available. We also spoke with Waco city officials who say they cannot tell private business owners how to run their businesses.