The guide dog of a visually impaired Bensalem man was removed from a doctor’s office this week. The dog’s owner, Joseph Cichonski, was in the waiting room of the office, but soon left after the doctor asked him to remove his service animal.
Dr. Priya Punjabi asked Cichonski and his black-Labrador-retriever mix, Hero, to leave the waiting room because the animal might scare other patients.
Bucks County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired Executive Director Ann Marie Spinden said the incident is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“To refuse a person with a service dog access to any privately owned business that serves the public is in essence a violation of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Spinden.
More importantly, she said, the incident demonstrates a need for more education on the rights of the disabled.
“So in this situation, obviously, we require more public education about blindness and visual impairment and the role of guide dogs so we can prevent similar situations from occurring in the future,” she said.
The Lower Southampton Police confirmed a civil complaint has been filed.
WHYY has not been able to reach Cichonski or Punjabi.