ETX veteran wants public to be more aware of service dog laws

ETX veteran wants public to be more aware of service dogs laws

(KYTX) - For many people with disabilities, a service animal can be life changing.
There are certain laws that protect these dog owners and allow them to bring their service dogs around with them. 
But that's not always understood by the general public. CBS19's Courtney Friedman joins us from Texas Star Rescue in Longview where a local veteran found his service dog.

I want to introduce you to a new special friend of mine! this is Riaca. She's been a service dog since June. Her owner and best friend is one of our nation's heroes and he says life just wouldn't be the same without her.

US Marine Corp veteran Robert Hurst served our country from 2005-2009. Like a lot of veterans, he came back with injuries but not the kind you can see. 

"I used to have panic attacks on a daily basis. I'm talking every day, I never left the house because of it," says Hurst.

His PTSD and overwhelming anxiety seemed to grow until he met Raika.
Hurts expresses, "I pretty much like her more than everybody!"

Raika was trained to be a certified service dog and now, Hurst won't go anywhere without her.

"She has all types of alerts. They'll let you know when you need to take your medicine ,if you're about to have a panic attack."

By law, Hurst is allowed to take Raika just about anywhere the public is allowed to go planes, restaurants, cabs, you name it. But lots of people don't know that.

"So I've had instances where I've been asked to leave a video store, I've been asked multiple times to see the right paperwork," explain Hurst.

Certification paperwork, that he legally he doesn't have to show. Hurst is even in the middle of a legal battle with a landlord who says Raika can't live with him in his rental home.  

By law service animals *are allowed even in "no pet" housing.

"I had to take legal action."
It's a battle many people with service animals deal with - especially those with invisible scars, like hurst.

"I've got four arms four legs, so as soon as they see me with a dog with a vest, they think it's not right, like it's one of those fake service dog things."
But Raika's service certificate and the support she gives Hurst is as real as it gets and it's something Hurst hopes the public will work harder to understand.

An important thing to remember, when you see a service dog like Raika, she let me borrow the vest she always wears.This one says please don't pet me, im working. Others will say please ask before you pet me.They are on the job so make sure you abide by what the vest says.

Police in areas of the state like Fort Worth say if a business owner is suspected of discriminating against a disabled person with a service animal, the business owner can be ticketed for misdemeanor discrimination.



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