Guide dog kicked out of doctor’s office
Dr. Priya Punjabi told Phillyburbs.com that a large animal could scare or upset her patients — though the couple with the guide dog were the only ones in her Bensalem office when they arrived. The doctor also said she is afraid of dogs.
Lat week, Joseph Cichonski, 58, who is visually impaired, accompanied his wife to Punjabi’s office, where she was scheduled to receive a physical.
Cichonski said his guide dog, Hero, a golden retriever/Lab mix, was lying calmly at his feet in the waiting room when the doctor approached and told him pets weren’t allowed in the office.
“We simply asked him to step outside,” the doctor explained later. “I have my rights and my phobias, too.”
“I told her that it’s not a pet, it’s a guide dog, but she still said I couldn’t have him in there,” Cichonski said.
Cichonski said he and Hero stepped outside the office because he didn’t want to cause a scene. His wife, who was told she wouldn’t be treated while the dog was in the office, also left.
The Cichonskis called police, who interviewed the parties involved and filed a report. Cichonski said Wednesday that he’s exploring his options.
“I’m not trying to cause a fuss,” he said. “I just want to let people know that things like this are happening and I’d like to prevent them from happening to other people with disabilities.”
Rocco Iaculla, an attorney with the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, said the doctor’s actions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“You cannot exclude service animals except in very specific situations,” he said. “Unless the animal is out of control or not housebroken or someone nearby has a severe allergic reaction, you must permit them in any area that the public is permitted. It has to be more than someone feeling uncomfortable with an animal present.”
(Photo: Kim Weimer / Phillyburbs.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: americans with disabilities act, animals, bensalem, bucks county, denied, disabilities, disability rights network, doctor, dogs, fear, guide dogs, hero, joseph cichonski, pets, police, priya punjabi, report, service dogs