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What’s Wrong Wednesday: Minnesota hotel illegally denies lodging to veteran with service dog

By January 27, 2016No Comments

Sandy Gessler, of Grand Forks, sits with her service dog, Cozmo in this submitted photo. Gessler said her service dog helps her manage her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Gessler, of Grand Forks, was visiting Willmar Jan. 2 when she ran into a problem trying to find lodging for the night. Though she made reservations with a local motel, when she arrived with Cozmo the manager made her leave, repeatedly saying he had a no-pet policy.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act state service dogs are not pets and are allowed in most public places, even if the business has a no-pet policy. Businesses that don’t accommodate a service dog are breaking the law.

Gessler left the motel and found a room elsewhere, but even there she didn’t receive a warm welcome. The second motel charged her $10 for Cozmo to stay in the room, again against the ADA. She said the motel staff also asked for proof Cozmo was a service dog, also illegal.

“I find hotels very, very difficult to deal with,” Gessler said, adding she has had issues many times across the country.

The ADA clearly states businesses are only allowed to ask two questions regarding a service animal – is the dog a service animal required because of a disability and what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask for proof of a disability or ask for the dog to demonstrate a task. Service dogs do not have to be specially licensed or registered and the owners do not have to carry special papers on them.

If you want to read the entire article by Shelby Lindrud / Forum News Service Today, you can find it at



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