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Vet, service dog kicked out of boat show

Workers in the employ of Renfro Productions — apparently unfamiliar with the concept of service dogs, and the federal laws that guarantee them access — kicked an epileptic veteran and his Labrador retriever out of Pepsi Coliseum last weekend.

Robin Davis and his 5-year-old Lab, “Doc,” who helps him cope with seizures, were first turned away from the Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show at the gate.

They managed to get in through another door, but were stopped 30 minutes later, he says, by a woman who said she was with the Boat Show asked him and Doc to leave, according to WTHR-TV in Indianapolis.

Twenty minutes later, a third employee told him he and his dog weren’t welcome. Finally, Davis says he went to the office and talked to an employee for the show’s organizer, Renfro Productions. “She was sorry that I thought it was federal law that I could have my dog in there. That she didn’t care,” says Davis.

Renfro Productions issued this statement:

“The long standing policy of Renfro Productions has always been to allow service dogs of any kind into our consumer product shows, such as the Indianapolis Boat, Sport, and Travel show. Our company and our employees continually strive to provide the highest level of customer service and convenience to all of our patrons and exhibitors.”


Comment from Pennt50
Time April 13, 2009 at 5:39 pm

We welcome this opportunity to respond to your inquiry regarding the alleged incident involving a veteran and his service dog at our 55th Annual Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show this past February.

The individual in question called our office alleging that he and his service dog were initially refused admission to the Boat, Sport and Travel Show and that, after gaining admittance, he was subsequently asked to leave because his dog was not allowed in the building. The individual contacted us to “see what we could do” to avoid attorney’s and ADA (American Disability Act) involvement. When asked if he meant a cash settlement he agreed he would entertain any offer we made and then sign an agreement that he had not and would not contact a lawyer or the Civil Rights Commission in regards to the ADA.

We immediately began an investigation into the events of that day. After speaking with our event staff, including security, door crew, box office and show office employees, we arrived at two conclusions: first, that this individual and his service dog were admitted to the show and second, that no one from Renfro Productions ever asked him to leave. We have regularly admitted owners and their service dogs to our Show and never before had any concerns expressed regarding service dogs at our events.

In this regard, we would like to emphasize two critical points that represent core elements of our business philosophy: our utmost respect and support for veterans, and our long-standing policy of welcoming and accommodating all people of special needs including those with service dogs.

Renfro Productions & Management, Inc. has regularly worked with veterans groups and active military personnel to provide access to our events. As an example, we were proud this year to receive an “Outstanding Patriotism and Support” recognition award from the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center thanking us for our “continued support to the soldiers of the Indiana Army National Guard.”

Renfro Productions & Management, Inc. has always welcomed, and will continue to welcome owners and their service dogs at our events. We understand the importance of these valuable companions to individuals with special needs. We strongly support service dog programs and have worked with organizations in Indiana, allowing the training of future service dogs at Renfro managed events.

Renfro Productions has a 55-year history of bringing quality, family events to Indianapolis and other cities. We do everything possible to ensure that our show experience is positive and enjoyed by all. We conveyed the results of our internal investigation to the veteran making the allegations and offered to welcome him and his service dog as our guests at next year’s show.