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Dispute over service dog at Columbia restaurant

On Friday ABC 17 News learned more about why a woman was refused service at a Columbia restaurant.

It happened Wednesday at Bamboo Terrace on West Broadway.

Police responded to a peace disturbance there regarding a dispute over a service dog.

The employer asked the woman for certification for her dog and that is when the woman became outraged.

The owner of Bamboo Terrace said she did not then refuse service to the woman because of her dog, but because of how angry she was and the rude remarks she was making to everyone at the restaurant.

The woman never did show certification, but according to federal law no one has to show proof of certification for their service dog.

“I think it should be a crime. I think it should be criminal because it has gotten so out of hand,” said Cindy Ludwig, owner of Canine Connection LLC, about people putting service dog vests on their dogs who are not trained.

Ludwig has been training service dogs for six years now.

On Friday she demonstrated with her dog Opal how beneficial these dogs are to those with true disabilities.

They can be someone’s eyes, ears, nose and helping hand.

“It makes it hard on the people who have these genuine service dogs to be accepted in public and to be respected,” said Ludwig.

She said it is a growing problem that people are buying service dog vests and certifications online for their pets that are not trained properly just to get them into public places.

There is a not a particular service dog vest that a true service dog needs to wear.

Service dogs are protected under the American with Disabilities Act.

Columbia police as well as employers are only allowed to ask two questions to those with service dogs.

1. Is the animal required because of a disability?

2. What task or service has the animal been trained to perform?

Under federal and Columbia ordinances the person does not have to show certification.

“I think the state should probably enact legislation that requires some kind of licensing or certification. Probably licensing of these dogs just like you would license your car,” said Ludwig.

She says that would help those with true service dogs so they can show verification their dog is needed.

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services told ABC 17 News there is a health and safety concern when untrained service dogs are in public places.

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