Woman advocating for others after service dog is denied entrance to museum

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A service dog was denied entry to the Texas Children's Museum because his owner did not have the proper documentation. (KTRK)

A woman is advocating for herself and others like her after her dog was denied entrance to the Children's Museum of Houston

Although Karley Spray spends every day with her four-legged friend, Kane, she doesn't consider him a pet.

"At the end of the day, he's medical equipment and he's not treated as a pet or a dog. Off-leash, at home, I love on him, but he saves my life," Spray said.

Spray has a disability, but you can't see it just by looking at her.

"I have hallucinations, psychotic episodes, and stuff like that. I take medication but the medication is not a cure and it doesn't fix everything, so my service dog handles the rest," she added.

Spray told Eyewitness News she doesn't go anywhere without her service dog. But over the weekend, Spray says she was turned away by a manager at the Children's Museum.

"I showed her the law and she said, 'We don't have to follow that,'" Spray said. "And I'm like, 'This is a federal law. It's above your head. You have to follow it.' She kept arguing with me for about 10 minutes."

The issue was the museum would not allow Kane entry because he was not on a leash.

But under the ADA and Texas law, because Kane was prescribed by a doctor and is a trained service dog for a person with a disability like Spray's, he is not required to be on a leash, in case he needs to run for help.

Staffers finally apologized and allowed entry but only if Kane was on a leash.

"That's when she said 'I'd rather not accommodate one person, over everybody else,'" Spray said.

Following the incident, Spray received an apology from the museum on Facebook.

"Karley, we apologize again for not handling this in a better way. We were unaware a service could enter without a leash or another visible service dog identification."

The museum says it also plans to re-train its employees. Karley Spray hopes all businesses learn from this story when it comes to people with disabilities and the dogs they depend on.

"There's so much miseducation and so many fakes out there and it's really hurting the people who need it," she said.

After the story aired on Eyewitness News, the Children's Museum of Houston sent ABC13 the following statement:

The Children's Museum of Houston has never denied entry to anyone using service dogs. All service dogs entering our doors have been on leashes, tethers or have been wearing identification which indicated they were service dogs. We are glad Ms. Spray has helped us understand service dogs are not required to be leashed or identified when in public. We have updated our policy on our website and are adding training to ensure our staff team is aware of these expectations.

Last weekend, without identification, leash or harness, some children assumed Ms. Spray's dog in the Museum was there as part of our programming and attempted to pet and play with the dog, which caused parents to fear for their children's safety.

We have a history of working with service, rescue and therapy dog organizations. We welcome all service dogs but would like for owners to keep their dog on a leash and/or have their dog identified as a service dog. This will help families of young children to clearly judge whether or not their children can behave appropriately around service dogs."

- Children's Museum of Houston
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