Guard surrenders in seeing-eye dog dispute


Leroy Huff faces battery charges.

WINDER, Ga.,None - A guard at a Social Security Office has been jailed over the expulsion of a woman with a service dog.

Leroy Huff turned himself in to Barrow County authorities on Wednesday. He is being held at the Barrow County Jail.

Melissa McMann said she suffered bruises and a minor shoulder injury after Huff tried to remove her because of her service dog.
"He provides my independence. He basically serves as my eyes," Melissa McMann said, of the yellow lab named Hurbie.

McMann suffers from a degenerative retinal condition.
"In places like dark buildings, I virtually have no sight," McMann told Channel 2 Action News reporter Manuel Bojorquez.
She said she is accustomed to questions about where the dog can and cannot go.  So she's researched the law and said as a service dog, Hurbie is entitled to go where most of the public is allowed.
That was challenged Sept. 15, when her husband drove her to the Social Security office in Winder and, she said, a guard asked for the dog's papers.

"I proceeded to tell him that he doesn't have papers but that he's wearing his harness and he's a certified Seeing Eye dog," she said.
The dog's harness is marked with the name of the school where he trained and the message, "Ignore me. I'm a working dog."
McMann said the law does not require a need to provide documentation. So, she asked the guard to provide in writing to her and her husband the law he was citing. That's when the disagreement escalated.
McMann said the guard grabbed her wrist, then her upper arm and forced her from the chair in which she was sitting.
"When he started to grab my wife, that is when I called the police," said McMann’s husband, Chris.
According to a Winder police report, the incident left her with bruises and a minor shoulder injury.
Huff told Bojorquez he was simply following orders and acted based on training but that he could not say more because the case is under investigation. He is facing battery charges.
A Social Security representative provided the following statement: "Service animals are allowed in Social Security field offices.  We have apologized to Ms. McMann for the unfortunate incident that occurred with the contract security guard in our Winder field Office.”
"The guard is a contracted worker from a security company used by the Department of Homeland Security.  We referred this matter to the Federal Protective Service of the Department of Homeland Security for appropriate action," the statement said.

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