HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Lauren Ricci went to a junior high football game with her service dog, Grace. While there, Lauren says a Huntsville City School Official approached her, asking to provide proof for her service dog.
“I told him, ‘no sir, I don’t have to have a doctors note or paperwork according to ADA guidelines,'” says Lauren.
The Huntsville school official called over a police officer, demanding she show official paper work or she’d have to leave the game. Due to agitation and embarrassment, Lauren decided to leave the game.
According to law, only two questions are allowed when confronting someone about their service animal: “Is this a service dog,” and “What service does it provide?” Showing proof of official paperwork is not required. Lauren says, “Now I have a letter to carry with me in case somebody wants to ask.”
Lauren’s trainer says that crowded environments are already hard for those with PTSD and situations like these don’t make it any easier.
“She was in a crowded place. Then confronted by somebody, which can actually trigger people with PTSD,” stated Laurel Rose, a certified trainer at Such A Good Dog Obedience Training.
Lauren contacted Huntsville City Schools explaining her unfortunate encounter at the game and the seriousness of the situation.
“Service dogs, you see more and more of them these days and it’s important for people to be aware,” says Lauren.
Huntsville City School administrators say all employees should be following ADA guidelines in regards to services dogs, and they are investigating the situation.