Natalia Duran presented her ticket for entry at a Tulsa Drillers baseball game in Oklahoma. By her side was her dog, a 7½-pound Chihuahua, whom she also expected to bring into the park.
Natalia says she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ever since she was the victim of a brutal attack during which she was stabbed 30 times. Her dog completed 120 hours of training to prevent her from having anxiety attacks.
Before she could even make it through the stadium gates, Natalia encountered three different employees who refused entry. Natalia stated her dog was indeed certified and pointed to the service vest. That’s when Natalia says one employee looked at her dog, then looked back at her and started laughing. “That is not a service dog,” the employee told her.
While speaking to a third employee, Natalia took out her cellphone and began recording. With a copy of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines in his hand, the staffer repeatedly asks Natalia what her dog is trained to do, insisting she must be trained to perform a specific action when necessary.
After a lengthy and heated debate, Natalia was ultimately turned away from the game. She and her family members were given refunds. “It’s ridiculous that he went to this extent causing me to feel like I had to defend myself from him drilling me on my disability and her services,” she wrote on Facebook. “It was beyond embarrass[ing] and emotionally hurtful.”
But Natalia’s story is not without controversy, as it has called into question the difference between a service dog and emotional support animal. One Facebook commenter said, “I love that this employee was educated enough to explain to her that she was wrong. He asked the 2 questions allowed by law. She offered up all other information on her own. She specifically said he provided emotional support. That is not a trained task.”
Other commenters, however, support Natalia: “I understand that there is a difference between service animal and emotional support animal. I will not deny that. But, if the dog required 100+ hours of training, and there [was] medical documentation maybe the onslaught of a severe panic attack can lead to who knows what.”
See the heated exchange for yourself in the now-viral clip below.
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