A New Jersey hospital didn’t discriminate when it refused to accommodate a California man who claimed his 12-pound poodle was a service dog.
New Jersey’s Civil Rights Division says the dog failed to receive the type of training associated with a service dog even though it had a tag issued by San Francisco’s animal care and control department identifying it as an assistance dog.
Authorities in California said the tag was never intended to suggest the animal had been trained and many tags are issued to animals that are not.
“An individual cannot simply declare his or her dog a service animal,” said Acting Attorney General John Hoffman in a statement released today. “There is responsibility and accountability on both sides of the service dog issue.”
Morristown Memorial Hospital refused to allow the dog inside the emergency room and a hospital room in 2013.
The man also alleged there was a second incident at the hospital in December 2013. In that incident, he claimed he and the dog were first denied a visit with his mother in the hospital’s “pre-op” unit, then were permitted a truncated visit of only five minutes, while his father and sister visited for 30 minutes or more.
H.O. told Division investigators that he personally trained his poodle to notify him each day at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to take his daily medication for a disability, and to recognize when he is becoming anxious so that he can take psychotropic medication prescribed for him on an “as needed” basis. He also referred to the assistance dog tag’ issued him by authorities in San Francisco.
New Jersey law says a person accompanied by a properly trained service animal cannot be barred from a public place of accommodation.
Associated Press contributed to this report