Blind and Deaf Woman Claims Security at Local Clinic Question Use of Service Dog

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KILLEEN (August 30, 2012)-A woman suffering from Usher Syndrome Type 2 claims that the Scott and White Security at a clinic in Killeen questioned the use of her service dog.

Around 20,000 people on the planet have Usher Syndrome Type 2.

"I'm legally blind and nearly deaf. I can't hear you, and I won't be able to understand you unless I read your lips," Jackie Hollenbeck said.

Hollenbeck takes her service dog, a chocolate Doberman named Hershey, wherever she goes.

When she goes in for medical treatments once a week at the Scott and White Clinic in East Killeen, Hershey guides her there.

But Hollenbeck claims that security at the clinic badgers her about having a service dog.

"The guards there were asking me if I had papers, if I had certification, if I had documentation, and if I had anything to prove that he was a service dog," Hollenbeck said.

Hollenbeck says many question Hershey as a service dog simply because he is a Doberman. But she feels that the harness on his back should be enough proof.

"I feel insulted, I feel degraded, and I feel like the center of a circus freak," Hollenbeck said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, defines a service animal as:

Any dog, signal dog, or other animal that's trained to give assistance to someone with a disability.

It goes on to say, that no one can even ask a disabled person for proof of service certification before permitting the animal to accompany them.

"I don't understand why anyone should have to go through being humiliated, you know telling people about your disabilities," Hollenbeck said.

"It's obvious the guide dog is to help me with mine."

Since July, Jackie's spent more and more time at the clinic explaining why Hershey shouldn't be bothered.

She's grabbed the attention of Patient Relations at Scott and White. They reached out to Jackie wanting to build a newsletter educating their staff on service dogs.

"I answered the phone and was like 'Ok are you going to be my advocate now?' And they said yes," Hollenbeck said.

Scott and White sent us a statement saying:

We are patient-centered, and our patients' needs are our primary consideration. Scott & White Healthcare has an operating policy that covers access to our facilities for patients with service animals, and Scott & White is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Wednesday, Hollenbeck and Hershey went to the clinic and weren't given any problems.

But she still doesn't understand why it's taken nearly two months to get a little respect.

"I mean 1 time is enough, but 4 times in a row from the same establishment? That's disrespecting your rights beyond belief," Hollenbeck said.