Woman raises service animal awareness after restaurant tried to deny access

Huntingdon, Huntingdon County, Pa. - For many people dogs are a part of the family, but for others dogs can be their lifeline.

For Jennifer Hampton, her dog Wellie is more than just her partner, she is Hampton’s ears. 

She suffers from a loss of hearing and for the most part says her community respects her lifestyle with a service animal but a recent incident has sparked some concern.

"There's always that one percent that you are gonna go somewhere at some point in time and people aren’t going to be aware of the law and you're gonna have some access issues," she said.

Hampton said a local restaurant tried to deny her and Wellie access.

"We were told, 'Well you can get your food to go if you want her with you.' No, she 's legally allowed to be with me," Hampton said.

By law, service animals are allowed to be with their partners in any public place, but after this incident, Hampton said there is a need to educate and businesses need to be aware of the law.

The Hoss's restaurant in Huntingdon was not involved in Hampton’s dispute but officials there said they make sure the law is followed and employees are also aware.

"We always make them aware that as a service dog...that they are allowed to be in our establishment,” General Manager Mark Shreffler said.

The two share an unbreakable bond but it's important to remember Wellie is always on the clock.
Hampton said one of the best things people can do, when they see a service dog out, is to leave them alone because it could distract them from the job.
"She is my lifeline. She is the thing that creates sound awareness for me, helps me be aware, of things in my surroundings when we're out in public, in the home," Hampton said.

Hampton said she and Wellie will continue with their everyday-life but hopes their story raises awareness in the community.

While Hampton said Wellie is very dedicated to her job, she does get the chance to be a normal dog.

Anyone that wants to follow their life together can find more information HERE.


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