A family from North Carolina booked a one-night hotel stay in Baton Rouge, but were told to go elsewhere because they were bringing a service animal to help their son. The mother says they've never had that kind of treatment, especially since it's a violation of the law.
After four hours in the backseat of the family car, on a hot summer day, three children piled out of the Vaughn's SUV. All of them needed a good stretch, including Chip, the youngest of the bunch. Chip, is not one of the children per say, but he is always close to 13-year-old Beau.
"He's been at the hospital with Beau when Beau had to have surgery," mom, Karen said. "He was in the pre-operative room."
Chip, a 65-pound Golden Retriever, goes everywhere with Beau; restaurants and family trips included.
"He's a seizure response dog for my son. [Beau] is diagnosed with a rare type of epilepsy called Landau-Kleffner Syndrome. Chip alerts us to when Beau is having a seizure," said Karen.
When the family recently made reservations at a hotel in Baton Rouge, they didn't think having Chip with them would be a big deal. Though they are not required to alert hotels they have a service dog, Vaughn says she does usually give a heads up.
That's when she says her reservation at one hotel, was refused.
"We got an email saying due to unforeseen circumstances, they will not be able to honor our reservations. Working through that they said, oh you're bringing a pet and Best Western isn't pet friendly."
Service dogs are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A front desk worker inside the hotel told us she is aware of the law, but workers can't go against what the owner says.
Vaughn says once someone understands the law and still violates it, she switches from mom to attorney. She is an attorney and practices largely in the rights of children with special needs.
She says the corporate office for the hotel did contact her, almost a week after the incident, and offered to honor her reservation.
"I've already booked with another hotel that's understanding and happy to follow the law. I don't want to go to a hotel where I have to force them to follow the law."
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