Vet with PTSD rejects employer’s proposal to leave service dog outside

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LEXINGTON, N.C. — An Iraq war veteran with PTSD said his employer’s compromise on allowing him to have his service dog at work is not enough.

Ray Kirby, a licensed practical nurse, wants to have Doc, a golden retriever, by his side while working at the Brian Center nursing home. We first brought you the story on Tuesday.

Kirby met with his managers on Wednesday. Kirby recorded the meeting on his phone and played it back for FOX8’s Sheeka Strickland.

“While the dog is going to be allowed–you can bring the dog–we’re not going to allow the dog to be in the building. You can bring Doc, and Doc can stay outside or wherever you want Doc to be but not in resident care areas or inside the building,” a manager said.

Doc helps Kirby manage his PTSD, specifically by calming him down when he gets worked up. However, if Doc is outside, Kirby said that means Doc can’t help him that much.

“If I’m about to have an anxiety attack, he’s there to alert me of it. If he’s out in the car, how am I supposed to do that? Plus when the summertime comes–100 degree weather–where’s he going to be at? Out in the car,” Kirby said.

A spokeswoman for the Brian Center said, “We have offered our proposal to the employee, and he has rejected it. We are talking internally to determine whether there are other options.”

This afternoon, a manager at the Brian Center Nursing Home called Kirby with a second proposal: Doc can stay in a crate in a courtyard at the nursing home. Doc would still not be allowed inside.

“They’re putting an offer out there that not only is not acceptable but makes absolutely no sense whatsoever,” said Dave Cantara, who trained Doc.

Veterans are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which defines a service dog as a dog that helps someone with a mental or physical disability. The definition specifically includes a dog that is trained to calm a person with PTSD.

The law requires businesses to allow service animals to go with disabled people in all areas of a facility where the public can go.

An example written in the law is a hospital. It said a service dog can go into patient rooms, clinics and cafeterias but not in places where an animal could contaminate a sterile environment, like in an operating room.

After Kirby rejected the second offer, the company offered the below statement:

We take the employee’s rights seriously, and we are working diligently to try to accommodate his needs. According to federal Medicare laws and state Medicaid laws, we must balance the employee’s needs with the needs of the residents and other employees at the facility.  We will continue to try to work with the employee to reach a solution that accommodates everyone involved.

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