He may not look like it. But Malcolm Moore says he needs his service dog, Ichi.
"Not everybody with a disability is carrying a crutch or in a wheelchair," Moore says. "Sometimes they look just like you or me walking down the street."
But Moore, who suffers from nerve disorders that affect his balance and dexterity, is tired of having to explain to others why his dog is allowed in public places.
The Americans With Disabilitiss Act gives people federal rights to bring their service dogs to stores, restaurants, hotels and other places. But Moore , who lives near the Koran community in Bossier Parish says too many people in our area don't know the law and are hostile to him and the lab mix that he rescued and trained.
Ichi has a red vest that clearly says she's a service dog, along with a photo i-d. But her handler says that's not enough for some people.
"There was a Burger King manager. I walked through the door one night to get a hamburger. He went ballistic," Moore recalled. "I gave him a choice. 'Call your manager or call the police.' 'Cause when the police get here I know what they're going to tell you.'"
Moore says he and Ichi have had trouble at other places that might surprise you, like a driver for Disabled American Veterans, and at the world's largest retailer -- Wal-Mart. But the last straw was at the Tooke branch Bossier Parish Library, where the manager confronted him recently.
"She said, 'Can you prove that's a service dog?' And I said, 'Well, yeah I can.' 'Well, show me papers,' Moore said of the conversation, adding, "You can't ask that a question."
According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, only two questions are allowed: Is that a service dog? And, what service does your dog provide?
They can not ask for the dog to demonstrate.
And, as Moore alluded to, the library did something else that's not allowed.
"She had called her supervisor. And her supervisor had assured her that she had the right to demand documentation. And they don't.
"Until I do something to demonstrate that I don't have control of the animal, or the animal's not behaving in a socially acceptable way, you can't challenge it," Moore continued.
Moore explained how Ichi helps him.
"If I drop things -- I have problems with my hands -- she retrieves things for me. If I fall down on the ground and have trouble getting up, she comes over and offers me as something to help push myself up off the ground."
Moore carries cards in his wallet anyway, to make things easier for those that ask. The cards identify Ichi as a service dog, and they contain more information and contacts with the ADA.
But Moore says he's running out of those cards, indicating, he says "a problem in this area."
And so Moore and Ichi may stick to places where they know they're welcome.
"I go to Golden Corral. That's our favorite place to eat," Moore says.
We saw a worker at the restaurant quickly get a bowl of water for Ichi when they come through. And Ichi stayed well behaved among the other patrons in the restaurant, as she and Moore share a meal together in peace.
As for the library situation, Bossier's director, Heather McEntee, says she's making sure the mistake doesn't happen again. So at Moore's suggestion, the Tooke branch manager will give presentations at all their libraries for employees and the public on service dog rights. Moore plans to be there with Ichi to help.
Moore says just wants more people to know the law.
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