Ind. courthouse denies entrance to man’s emotional service dog

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Lafayette resident Mike Riley said he requires the help of his emotional service dog, Bella, after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from his time serving in the army.

The Gulf War Veteran said he and Bella, a boxer mix, aren’t strangers to the Tippecanoe County Courthouse.

“I’ve been to the courthouse twice before this year and nothing has been said until yesterday,” said Riley.

Tuesday Riley said he needed to do business at the courthouse.

After entering he said security asked for Bella’s identification, which shows she is an emotional service dog. That’s when security told him Bella wasn’t allowed inside.

“I tried to explain to him that she’s a service animal,” said Riley.

According to the ADA website, dogs who only provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals.

Courthouse Security Supervisor Scott Hodson said non-service animals aren’t allowed at the courthouse.

“The fact that it doesn’t meet the ADA standard was enough for me to make the decision that he couldn’t bring the dog in and I’m comfortable with the decision,” said Hodson.

Riley tied Bella up outside while he went into to conduct his business, but Hodson said he told Riley he couldn’t leave the dog outside.

“He looked at me and ignored me and continued into the elevator upstairs,” said Hodson.

So Hodson said he had to call someone to take the dog.

“Knowing nothing about this dog other than it didn’t meet the ADA standard, I called for Lafayette Animal Control to come take care of an abandoned animal,” said Hodson.

Riley said he finished up inside and left before animal control arrived.

“I feel I was treated unfairly, especially when you want to call animal control on a service animal,” said Riley.

Riley said he doesn’t know what he will do if he needs to go back to the courthouse, but hopes changes can be made to allow emotional service animals like Bella anywhere.

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