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Amtrak Denied My Service Animal

Updated on July 13, 2015

My service dog

Saturday June 20, 2015

On Saturday, June 20th 2015, my mother and I started driving to Williston, ND from Detroit, MI. Our plan was to drive there and travel via the Amtrak train home. When we arrived at the Amtrak station in Minot, ND on Sunday June 21st, we had been traveling for over 36 hours. We drove straight through the night (about a 27 hour drive) and had been taking care of business in town throughout the day. We were both exhausted.

Background

At 19 I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder, PTSD, and General Anxiety Disorder. I have been receiving medical treatment since, including therapy and medications. At 23 I was prescribed the use of an Emotional Service Animal or a comfort animal. When that did not yield enough of a response, I am now 24 and require the assistance of a service dog to assist me with day to day activities. If I do not have my service animal, I require assistance from other people such as my mother, grandmother, brothers, or friends. I have proper documentation from my therapist who prescribed the service dog. He is trained to recognize my anxiety and Bi-Polar episodes and his first course of action is to try to prevent and dissipate the episode. He does this by getting my attention, usually he whines and that does the trick and I am able to focus on him and avoid the episode all together. If that does not work, he will start to try to get the attention of those around us to alert them that I am headed for an episode, he does this by barking short barks. My PTSD related anxiety attacks are severe enough that they cause severe tachycardia and an arrhythmia in my heart that causes syncope; in other words my heart starts to beat so fast it gets an abnormal rhythm and I pass out.

Where it all begins...

A markerAmtrak Minot, ND -
Minot Amtrak, Minot, ND 58701, USA
get directions

Sunday June 21, 2015

When we arrived at the Amtrak station, we were informed that our train was delayed almost two hours and I started to feel very anxious. When I entered the main lobby of the station, my dog whined, as he’s trained to do when he sees me get anxious. At that point, the employee at the ticket counter (Janisa) waved me up to the ticket counter. She asked me my name, which I gave her. She then informed me that there was no indication on my reservation that I would be traveling with my service dog. She went on to ask if he was a service animal, which I told her he was. Then she asked what he is trained to do, I explained that his function is to recognize and prevent my episodes. She then went on to ask me for “verification” of him being a service animal. I started to get defensive, and by this time I was very close to having a massive panic attack. My service animal, who was laying at my feet, let out two small barks to try to alert people around me that I was getting very anxious. I gave him the “quiet” command. I presented Janisa with a DOJ/ADA frequently asked questions card I received when I purchased his service animal vest as well as a letter from my therapist outlining why I need my service dog. She looked at the letter and said “I don’t care about that, that’s a HIPAA violation, I can’t accept that” and when she looked at the ADA/DOJ card she said “THIS is what I needed to see, now he is not acting like a service animal” and she went on to talk about how he is not acting like a service animal. I again tried to explain what his functions are and she cut me off to say “I am a Veteran of 14 years, this is not new to me” I was very upset at this point and told her “I don’t care about your accolades, just like you do not care about my condition.”

At that point, she started talking to my mother, who was standing next to me, like I was a child or like I wasn’t even there. At that point, Janisa explained that even if she let it go, the conductor had the final say and if we got on the train in Minot, there was a chance that when we got to Chicago the new train conductor may not allow my service animal aboard. At that point, I excused myself from the station, and took my service animal and had a severe anxiety attack outside the station. I was observed by several people passing by, which only fueled the attack. My mother continued to talk to Janisa inside, and shortly after, joined me outside. She explained that Janisa gave us both the impression that they were not going to allow my service animal aboard and that Janisa had offered us full refunds. She made the decision (as an RN of thirty years, and my mother) that I would not be able to physically or psychologically handle boarding that train, all because Janisa had refused my service dog and challenged me by asking for documentation and gotten me anxious to the point that I was physically effected. According to the ADA: “When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”

A markerRapid City -
Rapid City, SD, USA
get directions

Approximately 6 hours out of our way to Rapid City to receive another car to drive to Detroit, MI

Me and my (not working) Service Animal in one of our rental cars.
Me and my (not working) Service Animal in one of our rental cars.

What happened next?

After the situation had dissipated (but not resolved as we had to call customer relations to receive the refund due to Janisa not being able to process it), we were shuttled to the Hyatt house Minot to stay the night until we could figure out how were getting back home to Michigan. We were stranded. We spent $96.36 to spend the night. The next morning, we researched several other modes of transportation. We also contacted customer relations who were able to refund our tickets in full ($542.30) but that it could take up to 3-5 business days to receive it, we were also promised follow up from Amtrak. We were offered spots on the Amtrak the next day, but we were uncomfortable with the way we were treated and did not want to revisit that experience. We ended up having to rent vehicles to get home, but there were none available to go straight from Minot, ND to Detroit, MI. We had to take one rental car to Rapid City, SD and then get a different rental from there to Detroit, MI. Our first rental cost $189.93 and the second one was $440.78 a total of $630.71. We also had to pay for food, tolls, and gas on our 30 hour car ride back to Michigan which totaled to approximately $150.00.

Because Janisa took it upon herself to deny my service animal, my mother and I were forced to come up with an additional $877.07 to get ourselves home because the Amtrak refund was not available. My mother, who is a Registered Nurse Case Manager also lost a day of work, which is approximately $225 in missed wages. Janisa and Amtrak’s decisions left us out $1,102.07, even with their refund (which was made available two days after the incident) we were still forced to spend an additional $559.77 to get home.

We never received follow up from our initial request to customer relations, so I reached out to Mr. Matthew Hardison, the Chief Marketing Officer and Sales Officer of Amtrak. He had someone from customer relations e-mail me back:

Dear Ms. Marshall:

Thank you for your email to Mr. Matthew Hardison. I am responding on behalf of the Corporation.

I was sorry to learn that your animal was denied boarding our train recently. I have been advised that your animal was exhibiting behavior that is normally not observed with service animals. Under these circumstances, Amtrak personnel may deny travel to a service animal. Please accept my apologies for your inconvenience.

Once again, thank you for writing. We value your patronage.

Sincerely,

[Name withheld]

Customer Relations Specialist

Office of Customer Relations

Washington, DC



I was very disappointed, once again, and replied back:

Dear Ms. [name];

You say in your email: "I have been advised that your animal was exhibiting behavior that is normally not observed with service animals. Under these circumstances, Amtrak personnel may deny travel to a service animal. Please accept my apologies for your inconvenience."

There are several things here that are incorrect.

1. According to the ADA: “When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.” (See full ADA Statement on Service Animals here: http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm)

Janisa continually asked for verification which I do not have to give her, even though I did anyway, she still led us to believe that we would not be allowed on board. All while being rude and snide with her comments.

2. As for the "Excessive Barking" she spoke to in the comments on file (Yes, someone in your customer service department did read them to us), let me explain what my Service Animal is trained to do...

At 19 I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder, PTSD, and General Anxiety Disorder. I have been receiving medical treatment since, including therapy and medications. At 23 I was prescribed the use of an Emotional Service Animal or a comfort animal. When that did not yield enough of a response, I am now 24 and require the assistance of a service dog to assist me with day to day activities. If I do not have my service animal, I require assistance from other people such as my mother, grandmother, brothers, or friends. I have proper documentation from my therapist who prescribed the service dog. He is trained to recognize my anxiety and Bi-Polar episodes and his first course of action is to try to prevent and dissipate the episode. He does this by getting my attention, usually he whines and that does the trick and I am able to focus on him and avoid the episode all together. If that does not work, he will start to try to get the attention of those around us to alert them that I am headed for an episode, he does this by barking short barks. My PTSD related anxiety attacks are severe enough that they cause severe tachycardia and an arrhythmia in my heart that causes syncope; in other words my heart starts to beat so fast it gets an abnormal rhythm and I pass out.

On that night, he let out two short barks at the newest arriving people to the station because he felt someone needed to help me before I experienced a syncopal episode.

I am very upset with all that has happened, and the fact that not being allowed to board this train left me stranded and eventually out another $560.00. I am also experiencing a flare of other medical issues due to the stress and frustration of the weekend. I believe that this station needs retraining, as well as the customer relations team, on the ADA and what they can and cannot ask. No matter what Amtrak policy is, the DOJ/ADA always supersedes that, and thus, I should have been allowed on that train on Sunday.

If this matter cannot be resolved by end of business on Monday, I will regretfully have to file a complaint with the DOJ for Amtraks clear misunderstanding of the ADA.

Thank you,

Kimberley Marshall

[phone number]

kimberley.a.marshall@gmail.com

Open Road in South Dakota.
Open Road in South Dakota.

Now we fight...

It is currently 3:40 PM EDT and I have yet to hear back from Amtrak or anyone on their behalf. It is time they were put in the spotlight for thinking their policies override the Department of Justice’s ADA.

I am fighting for every person with a disability, I am fighting for those who have been too scared or unable to fight for themselves. I want Amtrak to recognize (publicly) what they did, and their misunderstanding of the ADA. I want there to be retraining at the Minot, North Dakota station and of the customer relations team. I also want Amtrak to reimburse me for what I had to spend to get home from Minot, after they denied my service animal. I cannot believe it has come to this point, but I truly hope Amtrak and it's officials can accept responsibility for what happened and make it right. If I have to keep fighting and get my story across every public forum around, I will, for every person out there who has felt like they don't have a voice. I will not sit down and I will not stay quiet.

Comments

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    • Ashley Duke profile image

      Ashley Duke 2 years ago

      Kimberly, I am just curious if you ever found a resolution with Amtrak.

    • profile image

      Natalia Alexandrov 2 years ago

      Everyone arguing that a barking dog cannot be a service dog needs to SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

      MANY service dogs are trained in auditory tasks, and it is none of the general public's goddamn business how the dog is trained to respond to the handler's needs.

      You know what else is disruptive? An epileptic episode. People with disabilities tend to be disruptive when they are having an episode, and their dogs are trained to respond appropriately.

      People making assumptions about how well her dog is trained is discriminatory and illegal. The dog is doing what it was trained to do, and Amtrak responded wrongly, and what they did was illegal.

      Also, to the shitlord who said she needs to provide documentation: you're a fucking idiot. No proof of disability nor proof of dog's abilities is legally required.

      The amount of ignorance masquerading itself as knowledge in this comment thread is absolutely appalling, and you need to take your holier-than-thou patronizing bullshit off this thread, and focus on supporting someone who was discriminated against, and help her take appropriate action.

    • profile image

      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      You're right, you don't have to explain anything to me but my point was if you can't do that...you won't be able to for anyone else and they will ask you in just that manner.

      I'm sorry if my critical assessment offends you. Sometimes it is better for us to hear the truth so at least we have knowledge to protect us. My criticalness comes from a protective place as anyone who really knows me will tell you.

      I never attacked your disability or your need for a genuine service dog so that is a mischaracterization of what I said. I asked what makes you different? Not the same thing at all. And you didn't answer by the way and that is ok but answer that one to yourself...ponder that one out to yourself it's kind of important.

      I was critical of your dog's training and your explanation of it...in the exact same way I am critical of my own or my friends training. The law doesn't care about hurt feelings. I wish it did. I keep trying to show you that if you want the maxiumum protection and empowerment...that lies in falling solidly under the law beyond reproach and being able to prove it to a judge or lawyer should the need arise and give a credible response to others. I can tell you right now that you do not have that yet...and I want that for you.

      The public doesn't know or care if you are new or old....sometimes they don't even care if you're right or wrong- you saw a little bit of that and it can get alot worse. I want to try to protect you from that by arming you and doing what I can to make you strong with the truth...not with false beliefs. I think you deserve that rather than being treated like a helpless infant and babied and kept in ignorance.

      Having a psych dog is not for the weak, especially one that has the apperance of our dogs. I have fought and kicked the legal fannies of the state and county in two seperate matters where they tried to disregard the ADA and my service dog. I drove them back and made them leave me and others with psych dogs alone and that was just in the last 3 months or so. My friend may eventually have her animal control come after her because they don't want to believe her psych dog is real (a different state than mine).

      Like Aubrey said...it is your choice as to what you do....

    • Ashley Duke profile image

      Ashley Duke 2 years ago

      Kimberley, I am very familiar with what you are talking about and service dogs in general as I have had a service dog for four years. Service dogs are not automatically exempt from behaving in a non-threatening way.

      There is a group on facebook called the ProBoneO group that is focused on the law regarding service dogs. Perhaps you should seek out their assistance. They also have a webpage at: http://proboneoprogram.com/

      Good luck. I would still suggest retraining your dog to alert in a manner that cannot be construed as aggressive or threatening, but it is your choice.

    • KimberleyMarshall profile image
      Author

      KimberleyMarshall 2 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Paula;

      I have a lot of respect for your wisdom and knowledge. I am sorry that you feel the need to attack my service animal and disability by insinuating that it is not legitimate. Let me further clarify a few things.

      1.) I do know that there are people out there who insist on breaking the law to claim their dog is a service animal which they’re not. However, those people do not generally have a medical professional with a license on the line behind them. It really bothers me that you are assuming that my disability is somehow less than yours or not as severe or whatever. We’re fighting the same fight; we’re on the same side. And for you to say I don’t have rights under the ADA is demeaning.

      2.) You’re right I have not clearly explained his training, because frankly, I don’t have to. I also had help from two additional trainers. I did not train him single handedly. So to accurately answer those questions I would have to gain their input as well.

      3.) I also resent the comments made about my mother. As a mother, you’re right her opinion is less than credible, but as a nurse of over 30 years in the Emergency Department and as a Psych nurse she is definitely a credible witness here.

      4.) You’ve had your animal much longer than I have, you are much more confident with him, and I am glad for you! Until I stated being challenged in these comments, I was VERY certain that his bark was an alert. Could it have been a stress reaction? Sure, I’m not a mind reader, but I still maintain that his bark was an alert.

      5.) I do realize you’re trying to help, but attacking me and my disability is not helpful. My PSD is a newly trained service animal, I have not implied otherwise. I am not refusing to listen to that, it is something I already know. I do cite and repeat the ADA like a mantra; because for once I felt protected with my invisible disability. It is becoming quickly apparent, that this community is less than open to accept that. I do understand the questions you’re asking as if a lawyer were asking them, and again, I do appreciate your input. You have a lot of knowledge that helps a lot of people.

      6.) I’m not looking to “get anywhere” in the online community. I wrote this article to bring attention to the problem and gain some possible support because I haven’t found it elsewhere. Apparently that was a mistake. I’m not looking for “mobs to go at Amtrak” and I’m sorry, once again, that you feel I am invalid. This makes you no better than the people who deny people their rights every day, I am truly floored that someone who calls themselves an activist would take that kind of speech and attitude against someone who is new to the community. (Note: Not a new disability, just new to this world of PSD’s).

      If you would like to discuss it further, please do drop me a line. I am more than happy to speak about it and learn from you. Again, this post was about me not feeling so alone in this and drawing attention to the ways that the ADA is misunderstood on a larger scale. I do hope to create/maintain a relationship because I do have a lot to learn. There are also somethings that I will not post publicly simply because (except in a legal or medical case) they don’t need to be public. I would be willing to share those with you, if you’re willing to listen.

    • profile image

      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      And Kristen, let me remind you that I have a psych dog...have had one for about 20 years...I had a trained psych dog the DAY the ADA was passed into law....I'm well aware of the ins and outs of psych dogs..not to mention I spent two years being trained as an advocate with a service dog specialty.

    • profile image

      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      Kristen, no paper makes a dog a service dog....the dr can say you have a need for a properly trained service dog but since a doctor is not a dog expert they cannot certify that any particular dog IS in fact a service dog. All your papers show is that you are eligible to use a properly trained service dog...not that the dog that is with you meets that description.

    • profile image

      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      "But because he is a Service Animal, we are both protected under the ADA"

      You do know right that people everyday are claiming that about dogs that are confirmed NOT service dogs, they even make up tasks that the dog does or claim something the dog does naturally as a task. So what makes you different?

      You can't even clearly explain how you trained the behaviors that most dogs do without any training whatsoever. The fact that your mom noticed you were pale and shaky means next to nothing. My mom will tell me that I am getting sick, I'll tell her no I feel fine...she nods knowingly and says you're getting sick...your eyes are getting goopy- then 24-48 later I get sick. Mom's notice things that no stranger ever would. Then you say well maybe it was a stress screw up. You dont know? With a properly trained alert you'd know...I have NO question when my dogs are alerting me...none whatsoever.

      I'm trying to help you because I think you have the disability for this....but it's becoming ever clearer that your dog is woefully undertrained and you keep refusing to listen to that and keep repeating that you both fall under the ADA for protections like a mantra. The thing is just because you say it doesn't make it come true and won't protect you really. Fairly clearly one of you does not and that is a problem...most of all for you. I'm only asking the questions a lawyer would ask you and you can't effectively answer. I doubt Amtrak is going to have any more to do with you unless you get a lawyer involved and he will ask the same questions and when you can't effectively answer you won't get any help. And not to say he couldn't be a good service dog but I don't think he's there yet by your answers...but pushing rights you don't have at this point I doubt will get you anywhere.

      And I doubt you will get anywhere with the online service dog community because when you speak to us...you're preaching to the choir. We all know all the details of how things go and are really hard to fool. You're too much of an unknown quantity at best if you were hoping to raise outrage over what happened and have mobs going at Amtrak. Sorry, can't do it. And I was prepared to do just that if things were valid and on the up and up.

    • profile image

      KristenCooper 2 years ago

      All service animals are trained differently. You wouldn't ask a dog that is trained to help a blind person, to do the job of a dog that's there to help a person having a seizure. Every dog is trained to react to different prompts and to react in a specific way.

      Until very recently, most dogs were only for specific things, but now that mental health is being more recognized as a real things, rather than just written off as 'in your head' different service dogs are now required.

      Not to mention military dogs are not trained for what this dog is, and it isn't up to her and those 'credentials' to have the main say.

      What that woman did was wrong, and is one of the reasons that set of the already started panic attack. And how is it the conductors job to fight the legal documents saying that Kimberly has saying what the dog is for and that he is legally a service dog.

      If he was not a legal service dog, then he never would have gotten the papers to claim him so.

    • KimberleyMarshall profile image
      Author

      KimberleyMarshall 2 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Hi Ashley; If this was a pet, I would agree with you. But because he is a Service Animal, we are both protected under the ADA and since he was under control there was no reason for them to refuse me service.

      Hi Paula; Thanks for your feedback. When it comes down to it, I don't know if the barks were a stress reaction or a reaction to me but I do know that at that point it was being noticed that I was pale and shakey so it really could have been either. I truly think he expected me to hit the floor. He is a lab bull mastiff mix. Not Pit, but that is something we often hear about him.

      The other thing I cannot stress enough is that he is trained to be quiet with his vocal alerts and that he is still learning. All Service Dogs are still learning, they're animals, they will make mistakes. The "barks" are not barks like you hear outside. He is being trained on other responses, but when the time comes the auditory alerts seem to be the only effect way to "bring me back."

      People will jump to their own conclusions, which I expect, but the ADA does protect both of us. We are a team.

    • profile image

      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      On the dr letter, I would do the exact same thing if going into an unfamiliar area with my PSD. It smoothes things if you can show police you actually have call to have the service dog medically. It's not like you can just go home and lick your wounds. I also try to make very sure my dog doesn't choose that time to make any mistakes if at all possible.

      I don't think Amtrak was correct. There was a court case in California many years back of a service dog in the lobby of a theatre that barked to alert the handler to a health problem...once...one of the short alert barks. The theatre threw him out and the court said that if a human attendent was able to vocalize in the lobby and be tolerated that the dog volcalizing once or twice for an alert should also be tolerated.

      So if you need the whine for the alert to you and nothing else will work so be it. But barking at a crowd of people when you are clearly standing and holding the leash probably isn't going to fly. They don't know that you have a significant problem and they don't know what to do..once you go to the ground...that is different. They can see you have a problem and they know to at least come over and keep an eye on you and call for medical help. It becomes really clear why the dog is barking.

      It would be one thing if you said that he got stressed from your stress and made a bit of a boo boo and you immidiately got him back under control...that is actually allowed by law. Dogs are not robots and a couple of woofs is not the crime of the century. But you are claiming something totally different, that you actually trained him to be fairly disruptive and possibly scary to others for less than an aboslute clear emergency situation. That is actually something to pause and think about.

      Still unless it is absolutely neccesary and it is medically documented that no other alert will work for your alert to you....it's a bad, bad, idea. The barking at others is a REALLY bad idea unless you are very clearly in dire distress to all around you. The service dog in question appears to be part pit bull? In that case it's a triple bad idea- you just know what conclusions people will jump to and others will believe.

    • Ashley Duke profile image

      Ashley Duke 2 years ago

      I feel bad for all you had to endure. However, I do feel they had the right to deny you. You stated that your dog barks at people to alert them. If a random dog was barking at me, that would be intimidating to me. Not everyone knows dog body language or can decipher the meaning of dog barks. I would just see a dog barking at me, even if you think your disability is obvious at that point. It would make me feel very uncomfortable and quite honestly, I would head the other way, rather than getting closer to this dog and handler.

      If Amtrak employees thought your dog was a potential danger to others, would be disruptive and an alteration to their business, they had the right to deny you. I honestly don't see you winning this if you have to go to court.

      My friend trained her dog to give a note card to someone that says 'I am a service dog and my partner needs help." This might be something you should look into training instead of a bark.

    • KimberleyMarshall profile image
      Author

      KimberleyMarshall 2 years ago from Detroit, MI

      First of all, thank you to everyone leaving feedback, I do appreciate it.

      Something that wasn't originally part of my post was that he is trained on vocal alerts because of my disability. When I am having a dissociative episode or a severe anxiety attack I will see or feel things that aren't real - but my sense of hearing remains intact. Thus, when we started training him we taught him to resort to vocal alerts, vocal alerts that are not threatening. It is not the ideal situation but, it is what is sometimes necessary. He also has commands such as 'quiet' that tell him that I am aware, in control, and that vocal alerts are not necessary.

      He is newly trained as a PSD, he was formally an Emotional Support Animal that did not accompany/assist me with daily functions outside of the home. He reacted exactly how he was trained to for this situation that was escalating rather quickly.

      According to the ADA: "A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence." In this case, once I gave the quiet command and effectively alerted my PSD that I was okay, he did stop the vocal alerts. He was then 'under control' and no longer caused a disturbance.

      SD Handler - I carry my physicians letter in the event that I am challenged and the police are involved. Because I was so far away from home and did not want to be stranded, I opted to bring it in that situation. It's not something that I generally carry. As stated above, especially when it comes to PSD's, they are trained to their handlers specific disability, in my case I sometimes require him to have vocal alerts to me and to people around me.

      Ultimately there are things to be learned on both sides of this fence, but I still feel that Amtrak violated the ADA when I was abiding by it as written. My PSD did let out a vocal alert, and was given a command to tell him to stand down, he was under control. Just because it is not what is seen in a 'typical service animal' does not make it any less valid. My physician would not have prescribed the PSD if she did not feel it was necessary and we both did quite a bit of research and had many discussions before this decision was made.

    • profile image

      Lisa 2 years ago

      While I feel for you; a place of business has the right to deny access to dogs causing a disturbance. Barking is a disturbance. It would be best to teach you dog body contact alerts (nudging your hand, paws up on your body, stepping on your feet) to avoid this situation in the future.

    • profile image

      SD handler 2 years ago

      The Amtrak worker heard a dog whining and barking very unlike a service dog. You were denied access. The worker has to decide if other passengers would be disturbed by the continual whining and barking on the long train trip. I wonder why you taught your dog to vocalize his responses? There is pawing, nudging and licking that would also communicate a response to you. In addition you told the dog to be quiet as in your told the dog not to respond to you. Also, I don't understand carrying around your physician's letter. The two questions can be answered, but in this case the behavior of your dog alerted the gatekeeper that you dog was not a service dog.

    • profile image

      Renee 2 years ago

      Made comment on Amtrak website. Bad customer service should not be explained away by " our policy ".

    • KimberleyMarshall profile image
      Author

      KimberleyMarshall 2 years ago from Detroit, MI

      I appreciate your help and information. As I said his alert barks only come at times when it is obvious by looking at me that I am physically in distress, even when I'm not on the ground yet. I do understand what you're saying but my doctor has provided ample documentation of my disability and it is also evident in my daily life, finances, and work history.

      And I am hoping to keep this case out of court, my point is that by their own admission, they feel their policy supercedes the ADA. That is not okay.

    • profile image

      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      Well that actually makes sense...you aren't sure exactly what it is that he is picking up on but you ran through training excersizes to teach him what to do if you go to the ground.

      The thing is if you are going to fight for your rights as a service dog handler in this day and age you would have to prove that you are disabled through documentation. And often they ask how you trained what you claimed the dog is trained to do...if you can't pass that test you're toast. Also barking as an alert is really not advised and problematic UNLESS you are clearly to anyone in distress, like collapsed to the ground. Most trainers won't train it because of that.

      Having been through several court cases- just got notification I won another battle today. The way your account would go is this...you were standing there and the dog barked, how is the public even supposed to know you need help and what to do is the first thing the defense would hit on. The whining might be more solid except they could make the case that it is disruptive and dogs do that naturally all the time....that is not a trained task and from what you told me I don't see that it is as well. You'd get toasted. I'd like to see you actually be able to stand up for your rights and win...every win by one of us helps all of us.

      The thing is that I believe that you really could use the dog and that the dog is just sounding undertrained (whether it is or not is up for debate but a court of law will go with what and how you explain and that needs work at least). With a little bit of work you could correct that. I am bipolar and I have a psych dog- I get it. You're welcome to go to my youtube channel

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqpJw8t5xY5bdXKfb...

      I have alot of videos there of my dogs and dogs I have mentored or trained or the dog of someone I trained to be a trainer. You might find it interesting.

      And a bunch of us have a service dog group on facebook that I'd like to invite you to join Service Dog Discussions...a good portion of us have psych or cross trained psych dogs. We're a good group and while people who want to join are screened....you've already told me all I need to know to screen you through. We talk about the laws, how they are interpreted, how to best protect yourself, heavy on training and problem solving, dealing with access issues, and alot of silliness and fun punctuated in between. Think on it....:)

      I just don't know that you'll be able to get anywhere with Amtrak the way things stand and that is too bad.

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      KimberleyMarshall 2 years ago from Detroit, MI

      I'm not questioning the validity of your question, I'm trying to answer your question to the best of my ability. The honest answer is I don't know exactly how he picks up on the cues, but when I say I physical cues, I mean sight, touch, and hearing. We worked with him using drills, for example I would "faint" and my training partner would coach him through what to do. We trained him to respond to my specific needs. This is often the case, especially in Psychiatric Service Animals.

      Again, I'm honestly just not sure how to articulate his exact mindset when he's picking up on my physical cues, but I know that we've worked hard with his training and he is more than capable to do his job. (Again not trying to sound defensive or anything, but I'm not exactly sure how to answer the question.)

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      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      Well service dogs are trained a variety of different ways on a variety of cues...some scent, some sight, some hearing, some silent...so it is actually a valid question. I knew the training had to be on cues whether intentional or not...that wasn't was I was asking- I asked how he was trained and the cues might be interesting as well. Or did you not train him so you don't know exactly how that went?

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      KimberleyMarshall 2 years ago from Detroit, MI

      He is trained to pick up on physical cues the same way any other service animal is trained. It took a lot of coaching but he did learn how my behavior changes and how to react.

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      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      I'm wondering how you ever trained him to do the whine and the bark at the right time?

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      KimberleyMarshall 2 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Kind of? That is how he performs his task. His main task is keeping me conscious and functional during episodes of dissociation attacks and anxiety attacks due to my psychiatric conditions. So yes, he wines and lets out alert barks to do that task, but his barks are not normal dog barks like youre used to hearing them. They're short and not as loud. He was trained to gain attention, if/when he does alert other people, it is quite obvious that im physically affected (visable shaking, pale, etc).

      I hope that clarifies a few things...

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      Paula Shepard 2 years ago

      His tasks are he whines to get your attention and he barks (while you are still standing and no one in the public would recognize that you needed help) and those are his tasks? Am I getting that right?