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Service Dogs Being Illegally Removed From Local Businesses - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Service Dogs Being Illegally Removed From Local Businesses

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Dalles Jorgenson sat down in the Valley News Live studio to share, "although I don't have an orange stick and sunglasses, I still have a service dog."

Before you judge a book by its cover, this Valley City man is asking you to think about the repercussions. A service dog can save a person's life, as it did for Dalles. But, some businesses and strangers aren't making it much easier on him.

Too often, he says the two of them have been denied from restaurants and stores for lack of knowing the law.

Valley News Team's Hope Hanselman shows us exactly where, when and why his dog belongs at his side.

First off, let's get one thing straight. Hayden is not a dog; he's a service dog, Dalles explained. And, these two are not what they might appear.

"A question I normally get is, well you don't look disabled," he said.

Hayden, a two-year-old lab, is more than Dalles Jorgenson's best friend. Dalles is more than Hayden's ball-thrower.

"What Hayden is trained to do is to ground me, to keep me in the here and now. Not back then," Dalles said.

In fact, you can thank this sensitive fur ball for bringing Dalles back from his darkest days.

"My life was unmanageable a year ago," he said. "I didn't know where to go or what to do. I was in a bunch of denial."

Returning home form the North Dakota National Guard, where Dalles spent three years seven months and 17 days active duty, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hayden, a certified service dog, joined the fight for Dalles's survival.

"The biggest thing that Hayden helps to do is wake me up in the middle of the night from my nightmares. He nudges me. Practically jumps on my chest, but he's there in the middle of the night."

But, Hayden isn't often allowed to be there in public. The two have been denied from restaurants, stores, even shopping centers.

Abby Cline, a dog trainer in Fargo, says that's illegal.

"They can go to restaurants, movie theaters, airplanes, train stations," she explained.

The Americans with Disabilities Act even reserves the right for people, like Dalles, to keep his PTSD private.

"You can never ask what the person's disability is, why they need a service dog, but you can ask what services the dog performs for you," Cline said.

But, now Dalles chooses to share that side of him. Part of his diagnosis makes him anxious if he's not in control. He says he needs to know where his entrances and exits are. He needs to know how many fire extinguishers are around him. Hayden has the ability to sense Dalles's nervous energy. When Dalles's breathing changes, Hayden will pull him to the nearest exit.

"Now, I don't need to do that because I trust Hayden and I just believe in everything he can do," Dalles said.

So, what you're looking at is a new version of Dalles- one in which Hayden is a fundamental piece.

The law is clear. The ADA states service dogs are legally allowed in any restaurant or business, including hospitals, even if state or local health codes prohibit animals. They can't be isolated from other customers or treated less favorably for it. The dogs are to be considered extensions of the person.

If you have a service dog and run into issues of denied service, you can and should report it to law enforcement.

 

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