by: Linda Stouffer Updated:
ATLANTA - Service dog training teams are heading back to Florida after they say a local motel denied their dog teams a place to stay together. They were in town to help Aimee Copeland.
Channel 2's Linda Stouffer caught up with the trainers who wonder if the motel violated the law.
German shepherd Brodie is trained to save his handler's life by fetching medicine. He also helps owner Steven Kappes if he faints, after a traumatic brain injury suffered in combat.
"We go everywhere together -- sleeps in the same room with me," Kappes said.
But not Saturday. Kappes said he tried to check into a Decatur Motel 6, but thinks he was wrongly denied a room because of a 'one pet per room' policy.
"I just think they didn't get the whole service dog aspect, what the dogs were really used for," Kappes said.
They said the hotel wouldn't let the other dog Belle, a Labradoole, stay in the same room with them.
Belle was in town because she will soon become Aimee Copeland's new service dog.
Copeland lost her hands and a leg to a flesh eating bacteria, and Belle is in training to help.
The group, PSD Academy, said they needed to save money on the trip by putting both dog teams in one hotel room, something they do in other cities.
The Florida service dog group's founder, Crystal Callahan Ayala, is talking with an attorney about whether the hotel violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not making a reasonable accommodation.
"If two individuals wanted to stay in your hotel and they were both in wheelchairs, would you make them stay in two separate rooms?" Ayala said.
"All he kept saying was 'pet, pet, pet' even thou we kept telling him these are not pets, these are service dogs, these are our lifeline to the world," dog trainer Dianne Wertz told Stouffer.
Stouffer called the Motel 6 and got in touch with their corporate office in Texas about their dog policy. They sent her a statement saying, "Motel 6 is very proud to be pet-friendly, and we have a long-standing policy that welcomes all service animals and well-behaved pets. The number of pets and service animals allowed in each room is at the discretion of each franchisee.
"In this particular instance, the general manager at Motel 6 Decatur informed the guest that the specific ADA room he requested was not available for check-in at the time the guest requested the room, but that the room would be available at the regular check-in time of 3:00 p.m. The general manager also informed the guest of the hotel’s pet policy, which allows one pet per room.
"The guest was told he was welcome to return for the room he requested at 3:00 p.m., and the general manager informed the guest’s representative that the guest would be allowed to stay in the room with both dogs if he chose to return."