Karl Fleming and his Labrador service dog, Kuchar, were denied lodging at the Front Beach Inn that had a vacancy sign in the window. The fact that he had his service dog with him got the receptionist all riled up.
Army veteran Fleming attended K9s for Warriors camp in Ponte Vedra Beach. He graduated with his service dog last year.
Fleming received a brain injury in Afghanistan in 2011. The trauma resulted from a rocket propelled grenade. Dog and owner went to Panama City Beach, with his parents and his roommate. Fleming is totally dependent on Kuchar, his service dog.
Fleming was yelled at by the front desk clerk and told she had no vacancies.
”You have to produce papers sir! Get out of my lobby!” the receptionist can be heard saying in a loud voice toward his roommate who was recording the incident on his cell phone.
Fleming immediately contacted Duval and Sandi Capra at K9s for Warriors who were saddened that he was denied his rights.
“He has some pending surgery coming up, actually several of them, and he was taking a little R&R so he could just take his mind off what he is about to go through. Well that ruined that,” said Duval.
Flemings’ fellow K9s for Warriors graduates are in constant contact with him right now helping him move on from the experience.
Duval says not all disabilities are seen, especially among veterans.
Her group tries to raise awareness so people and businesses will understand the rights of service dog owners.
“She (Kuchar) is everything to me,” Fleming told First Coast News. “She gets me out of bed every morning. She is the reason I get up and am able to go out and do stuff because she is there with me. I feel safe enough to go to Lowe’s to get a hammer, things that other people take for granted. I can do it because she is there.”
According to a police report, the desk clerk told police she felt threatened and they became verbally abusive. She told police she wanted them to leave so she could lock the door. Fleming said that did not happen, that he and his roommate remained calm and called police to come.
Fleming said police asked him to leave “They did not stand up for his rights either,” said Duval.
Article and image source: First Coast News