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Lynchburg area family says businesses aren't accommodating their service dog

By Tim Saunders, tsaunders@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 15 2013 05:05:38 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 15 2013 09:00:57 PM EDT

Some businesses in the area aren't welcoming to the animal.

APPOMATTOX, Va. -

Diabetes used to keep Chyenne Lambert in the hospital.

"I was going there often enough that they would look at me and go 'oh no, she's back'," said Lambert.

The situation improved when she got her service dog, Madame Currie.

"If my blood sugar is low, she will bite my fingers and lick my fingers," said Lambert.  "So far she has been correct every time."

"We didn't even know about diabetic service dogs until her endocrinologist suggested it," said Lambert's mother, Darlene, who said the dog gives her peace of mind.

"I feel so much better knowing she has her constant companion," Darlene Lambert said.

Some of the places they go aren't always happy to see them.  The Lamberts say workers at an Appomattox grocery store have verbally harassed them and even questioned their dog's legitimacy.

"First time we were in the store, they demanded to see the papers," said Chyenne Lambert.

At one point, a manager of the grocery store threatened to call police.

"I'm like sure, go ahead.  I'm not the one that's going to get in trouble," Lambert said.

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, businesses can ask a limited number of questions about the service dog, but they can't ask for identification or inquire about the person's disability.

To avoid confusion, the Lamberts carry documents that identify Madame Currie as a service dog.

Chyenne wears a badge that says "Canine Partner."

"You can come up and ask questions," said Darlene Lambert.  "I invite questions, but when somebody gets a serious attitude problem right away, that puts up our defenses."

Businesses can ask people with service dogs to leave, but only if the animal is out of control or isn't housebroken.

Chyenne Lambert said Madame Currie is well behaved.

"Everywhere she goes, she makes a friend," Lambert said.

"If she was tearing up stuff or barking, I could understand why somebody would be upset," said Darlene Lambert.  "She is one of the calmest creatures I've ever seen."

Click here to read more about the law as it relates to service animals.