Veteran and Service Dog Denied Lodging

Veteran and Service Dog Denied Lodging

January 29, 2016

Veteran and Service Dog Denied Lodging

A veteran and her service dog were repeatedly told by a motel manager that they were not welcome even after the veteran explained that her companion was a service dog.

The incident took place in Willmar, Minnesota. Sandy Gessler, a veteran with PTSD, had previously made reservations at the motel.

“I deal with military post traumatic stress disorder,” Gessler said, who served 18 years in the armed forces and did tours of duty during the Iraq War. She suffers from extreme anxiety, depression and nightmares. In public she can find it hard to function, especially in unfamiliar places, such as a strange hotel room.

And even though the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act state service dogs are not pets and are allowed in most public places, even if the business has a no-pet policy, the manager of the hotel refused to let the veteran and her service dog stay for the night.

That stance by the manager of the motel was a clear violation of the law.

Gessler left the motel and found a room elsewhere, but even there she didn’t receive a warm welcome. The second motel charged her $10 for Cozmo to stay in the room, again against the ADA. She said the motel staff also asked for proof Cozmo was a service dog, also illegal.

Businesses Denying Service Dogs an Ongoing Issue

Gessler hopes the public and businesses become more educated about service dogs, especially those who serve a growing number of veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and other mental health issues. While the ADA accepts PTSD and mental illness service dogs, the Veterans Administration does not, though the VA is doing a three-year study on it.

“Society isn’t ready for this PTSD service dog,” Gessler said, and it leads to situations similar to the one Gessler found herself in while in Willmar.

“I would like businesses to be aware of the dos and don’ts of the law,” Gessler said.

“I find hotels very, very difficult to deal with,” Gessler said, adding she has had issues many times across the country.

About Healing Heroes Network

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8 Responses

Herogiveaways
Herogiveaways

February 22, 2016

Thanks for reading Kim. New sources did not reveal names of hotels. Therefore, we did not have that information.

Kim Ott
Kim Ott

February 22, 2016

There are 10 hotels in Willmar Mn. Why not expose which one it is so there could be a loss of business felt by all those that support our veterans!

Blair Tarley
Blair Tarley

February 22, 2016

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. All these businesses that are violating people’s rights should be fined and then educated so that they don’t do this again.

Maybe people with service dogs in the area should picket the hotel/motel so that they draw attention to the discrimination and embarass the owner and hotel management. When you lose business maybe you will think twice about flouting the law.

Sandy Gessler
Sandy Gessler

February 22, 2016

Thank you for advocating for the rights of service dogs and their partners by supporting this article.

J Carmody
J Carmody

February 22, 2016

At the VA the service dogs wear vests identifying them as service dogs. Even though the second motel owner asked for proof, which you say is illegal, I can understand why they would. People try many ways to get around rules, and I imagine there are folks who love their pets so much that they would say the pet was a service dog when in fact they weren’t. Having the dogs readily identifiable as a service dog would help in that instance.

Sandy Gessler
Sandy Gessler

February 22, 2016

I had my paperwork with me, he is legal and trained. The manager did not want to see my paperwork and pushed it back at me yelling “no dog no dog” then pointed and said “you go”. Agree some people abuse the rights of having a “service dog” but when in dought, at least, follow the law or ask for help in making a decision. I am always prepared to advocate my service dog.

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Sandy Gessler
Sandy Gessler

February 22, 2016

Cozy Inn Willmar, MN
I have had many messages to my FB after this article was printed both in Willmar and here. The city pages in MPL and the Stars and Strips, included hotel name and manager on police report. I filed a compalint with the MN Human Rights against this motel and made a comment on the review on trip advisor. Thank you all for your support!

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