Service dog denied at IRS

By: Kelly Asmuth Email
By: Kelly Asmuth Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - It's video you'll only see on 11 News. Our cameras were rolling when the Grand Junction IRS office blocked a handicapped man and his service dog from entering the building on 25 Road.

John Wright tried twice Tuesday to pick up forms from the IRS with his service dog. The American Disabilities Act requires businesses to allow easy access to handicapped customers, and their dogs. No special identification is necessary.

"She just started yelling, 'Get that dog out of here,'" says Wright. Wright says he's been using a service dog since 2002 under doctor's orders for seizures and other symptoms. "She (his dog) alerts me for symptoms of post concussive syndrome which is dizziness, disorientation, extreme headaches and loss of sight."

The IRS says they would've allowed Wright and his dog in that morning on his first arrival. However, officials say he wouldn't clearly divulge whether the dog was for medical use.
Wright returned that afternoon.

11 News footage shows Wright showing a dog vest reading "service dog" to the security guard and IRS employees standing nearby, who still wouldn't let him in. By law, the dog doesn't have to be marked, even though Wright had already disclosed the K9 vest.

Wright was forced to wait until police showed in order to be allowed through. "They think they can stomp all over disabled people's rights... but they expect everybody to follow all of their laws and regulations," says Wright.

The IRS wouldn't comment on Wright's second visit, when he showed the service dog's identifiable vest. The police on the scene say they've had dealings with Wright and his dog in the past.

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  • by cissy Location: nyc on Jun 7, 2011 at 09:49 PM
    I had an access problem last week at an IRS officer in NYC.My SD was "dressed";my disabilities are invisible.I was calm and firm and chose to wait while a supervisor was called. I had to go again back several days later at which time the guards told me I needed "paperwork" for my dog.I told them it wasn't required and to tell their supervisor to check section 504C of the Rehab Act.I wasn't further delayed.The Rehab Act was passed in 1973,predates the ADA by 17 years and covers federal entities or entities receiving federal funds.It's pathetic that personnel aren't trained in access laws for people with disabilities who use service dogs.No comment from me on the story of the gentleman denied access as I have no direct knowledge of what went down and little trust in the media.
  • by james on Feb 18, 2011 at 09:09 AM
    To all of you good job on your comments and showing others what a crock this guy is, we all need to expose him as a fake & a fraud that he is ! now the GJPD come on have this guy wait in the lobby or outside and ask what forms he needs so he is away from ear shot of those who can hear him, if he's a problem then request he not come back to your establishment unless with an adult
  • by Clint Location: GJT on Feb 18, 2011 at 07:25 AM
    This guy is a real POS... KKCO you really should have stayed out of this. You have help support a scam.
  • by any retail business Location: any restaurant on Feb 18, 2011 at 06:46 AM
    and how about the slobs who carry around their purse dogs claiming they are also service dogs? if I'm not allowed to have my large, yet fully trained dog in a store, then why are they?
  • by Dave Location: GJ on Feb 17, 2011 at 08:33 PM
    As a disabled individual I agree that he can have a service dog. That being said, it sounds a lot like he doesn't put much effort into ensuring understanding from others. Is the dog required to have a vest? No. Should the dog have a vest? Sure would make his life easier wouldn't it? I'm guessing that he enjoys the confrontations.
  • by Anonymous Location: gj on Feb 17, 2011 at 05:41 PM
    could someone tell me why the stories about the bike race was dropped, and the lawsuit involving the go cart accident? this story about the dog and the irs has really been run in the ground.thanks
  • by sk Location: gj on Feb 17, 2011 at 11:43 AM
    To BettyJo, This person is NOT a valued member of this area, he is a pain in the a*** everywhere he goes. He has had several "service" dogs and none of them are on the standard leashes with the vest on! He is a rude old man only wanting his "15" minutes of fame, guess he got it didn't he!! 11 news do some research before you go a story on someone next time. Didn't take much to find out just what type of person he is now did it news 11? POOR reporting!
  • by Nina Location: Grand Valley on Feb 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM
    I've dealt with this man. He may be disabled, but he is not competent to care for animals. He is an abuser and should not be allowed to have a dog. As far as people are concerned, he is a con man. Please don't give him any further coverage or I will lose confidence in your news channel.
  • by Disgusted Location: Ritterville on Feb 16, 2011 at 07:43 PM
  • by Ron Waterman Location: Grand Junction on Feb 16, 2011 at 07:08 PM
    I too have had dealings with the gentleman (ahem)and his service dog. I can not verify the truth of his dog's (he's had a different one for many years) training. But he may have a mental issue that leads him to this behavior. Sad if true, but some sort of an arrangement should have been made to let him get his forms (if needed) and leave as quickly as possible. The reaction at that office may have been caused by previous meetings with and a desire to avoid any more. Still, though, you have to do your job. If police were needed, they should have been called by staff at the first incident.
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