Hotel Refuses Family's Reservations Because of Epileptic Son's Service Dog

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A family had their reservation at a Best Western in Baton Rouge, LA cancelled when they told the hotel that their epileptic son's service dog would be joining them.

Thirteen-year-old Beau Vaughan has a rare form of epilepsy called Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, which requires him to be accompanied by his golden retriever, Chip, who is trained to alert his family when Beau has a seizure. Chip goes everywhere with Beau, including restaurants and family trips; Beau's mother, Karen, typically tells hotels in advance that a service animal will be joining them, even though she's not legally required to do so.

But when she gave Best Western the heads-up, they ended up rescinding her family's reservation.

"We got an email saying due to unforeseen circumstances, they will not be able to honor our reservations," she told WAFB. "Working through that they said, oh, you're bringing a pet and Best Western isn't pet friendly."

The American Disabilities Act covers service dogs like Chip, a fact not lost on Vaughan, who is an attorney focused on the rights of children with special needs. Since 2011, businesses are required to allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities wherever the public can go. A hotel employee told WAFB that while she is aware of the law, "workers can't go against what the owner says."

Nevertheless, Best Western's corporate office contacted Vaughan a week later and offered to honor her reservation. But for Vaughan, it was too little, too late.

"I've already booked with another hotel that's understanding and happy to follow the law," she said. "I don't want to go to a hotel where I have to force them to follow the law."

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