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Tag: denied

Best Western could do better


You’d think a big hotel-motel chain would know and share the rules when it comes to service dogs — even one whose inns are “individually owned and operated.”

By federal law, service dogs are allowed. No ifs, ands or buts.

But a Best Western in Baton Rouge, citing its policy prohibiting dogs, recently denied reservations to a North Carolina family whose golden retriever serves as an epilepsy alert dog to their 13-year-old son, Beau.

Chip goes everywhere with Beau, who has a rare type of epilepsy called Landau-Kleffner Syndrome. “Chip alerts us to when Beau is having a seizure,” Beau’s mother, Karen Vaughn, told KPLC.

But after Vaughn made an online reservation at a Best Western in Baton Rouge, pointing out that service dog Chip would be among their party, the motel notified her that the reservation was being refused because the inn doesn’t allow dogs.

Vaughn, who is an attorney specializing in the rights of children with special needs, said that after she raised a stink the corporate office called back, a week later, saying they would honor the reservation. She said no thanks.

Normally, we would say sue the pants off the motel’s individual owner, and sue the pants off Best Western corporate honchos, too.

But Best Western has an unusual corporate structure — one they’ve argued doesn’t comprise a profit-making corporation, but is more of a cooperative. All hotels are individually owned and operated, and Best Western, from its headquarters in Phoenix, provides only reservations, marketing, brand identity and support services.

Individual owners of Best Western inns are allowed to make their own rules — but not rules that violate federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A Best Western spokesman told ohmidog! that the Baton Rouge motel has been temporarily banned from representing itself as a Best Western hotel.

“Best Western International has restricted the hotel on our reservations systems and we have required the hotel to stop representing itself as a Best Western branded hotel (cover or remove all Best Western signs and logos) until its representatives attend a hearing at our corporate headquarters at which their future association with Best Western will be decided,” he said.

“Best Western International requires each independently owned and operated hotel to comply with all federal, state and local laws and standards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We provide extensive training to ensure our hotels understand and address the needs of guests with special needs. When this matter came to our attention, we immediately provided direction to the hotel and a reservation was offered to the family.

“We deeply regret the matter and we will continue to proactively communicate ADA requirements and training to Best Western branded hotels to ensure all guests are treated with the utmost dignity and respect.”

Best Western’s website boasts about their 1,600 pet-friendly locations.

Parole denied after dog attends hearing

Louis then

Louis now

An Alabama state board denied parole this week to a man convicted of spraying a dog with lighter fluid, setting him on fire and beating him with a shovel.

The star witness at the hearing? The victim himself — Louis Vuitton, an 8-year-old pit bull who, now in the care of a local couple that adopted him, still bears burn scars over much of his body. The dog was led into the hearing room, consenting to being petted along the way.

The board voted 3-0 to deny early release to 23-year-old Juan Daniels of Montgomery, who was sentenced in 2009 to nine years and six months in prison, according to the Associated Press. The sentence was a record in Alabama in an animal cruelty case.

It’s believed to have been the first appearance by a dog at an Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles hearing. “I don’t recall every having one here before,” said Cynthia Dillard, the board’s executive director.

Daniels’ family and supporters aruged that he had been sentenced far more harshly than criminals who harm human beings.

After the September 2007 attack on the dog, the Montgomery Humane Society got as many as 50 calls a day about the case, some from other countries.

The dog was named “Louis Vuitton,” in honor of another abused dog, named “Gucci,” whose torture case in Mobile in 1994 led to passage of “Gucci’s law,” which made animal cruelty a felony in Alabama.

More than 60 law enforcement officers, animal rights advocates and other supporters of Louis crowded into the hearing, where Montgomery County District Attrney Ellen Brooks asked parole board members to make Daniels serve his entire sentence.

She said he tortured the dog, which belonged to his mother, because he was angry at her for not letting him use the car.

Daniels will be eligible for another parole hearing in July 2012.

Activist’s guide dog, Ruger, dies in New York

Ruger, a yellow Lab who helped his blind owner fight for the rights of guide dogs in New York, died this week of natural causes.

For nearly a decade, Ruger was at the side of Kevin Coughlin as the two went up against taxi drivers, restaurants and other establishments that illegally denied them entry.

Coughlin, 48, undertook several high-profile cases against businesses in the city that to refused to open their doors to guide dogs, including two complaints against the Taxi and Limousine Commission for refusing Ruger a ride.

In 2002, Coughlin filed a discrimination complaint against a coffee shop  for throwing his dog out, leading to a $1,000 against the owner.

The “CBS Evening News” once followed Coughlin and Ruger with a hidden camera and recorded business owners and taxi drivers giving him a hard time because of his dog.

Ruger, who had retired as a guide dog in 2008 and was living in Warwick, N.Y., died Wednesday at the age of 13, the New York Times reported.

“After losing my vision, I truly felt like I wasn’t going to experience joy again,” Coughlin, who became blind in 1997 as a result of a genetic condition, said Thursday. “But Ruger was just so full of joy. It was this in-your-face, all encompassing feeling. That was the biggest gift. He allowed me once again to experience joy.”

Mr. Coughlin held a retirement party  for Ruger in 2008, but has not seen him since. He said it would have been too difficult emotionally.

Coughlin has been working with a new guide dog, a black Lab named Elias, but Coughlin’s e-mail handle remains “misterruger.”

Eagles fan turned away due to anti-Vick shirt

Vick-shirtThe team may be named after a symbol for freedom, but the Philadelphia Eagles apparently don’t want fans practicing it.

Eagles security staff squashed a suburban fan’s freedom of speech at the gate before Sunday’s game, telling her she couldn’t enter the arena unless she covered up the anti-Michael Vick sentiments expressed on her T-shirt.

Kori Martin, 32, of Broomall, was wearing a shirt bearing the words “Losers fight pit bulls” on the front, with Vick’s name and No. 7 crossed out. On the back were the words “You don’t deserve a second chance,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

At the gate, she was told by security guards at Lincoln Financial Field that she could not wear the shirt because it was offensive to players and that the policy came from top management.

Martin was allowed into the stadium when she agreed to wear the shirt inside out — but she doesn’t consider the issue resolved.

“Not only has (Eagles owner) Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles organization supported a dog murderer by signing this convict,” she said, “but now they want to take away my freedom of speech just because I don’t agree with them?”

Pamela Browner Crawley, the team’s senior vice president of public affairs, told the Inquirer she knew of no specific policy banning such shirts.

(Photo: T-shirt from Pitbullgear.com)

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.”