The website of television station WXIX-TV, a Fox-affiliated station in Newport, Kentucky, which refers to itself as FOX19 Now, has this disturbing headline: Ark Encounter accused of denying entry to woman with service dog. They don’t appear to have a comments section. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
An Alabama woman claims her family and their service dog Gizzy were denied access to the Ark Encounter, a Noah’s Ark exhibit in Williamstown.
They were denied access? Egad! As you know, Ark Encounter is the creationist tourist attraction built by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. We looked it up — the TV station in Newport and the Ark Encounter in Williamstown are about 37 minutes apart by automobile, so FOX19 Now is in a good position to report on this story. They continue:
“I have a service dog. She alerts my husband and son by barking if I have a crisis with Myasthenia Gravis. She is registered,” said Tiffany Douglas. Myasthenia Gravis is defined as is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscle, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Here’s Wikipedia’s write-up on it if you’re interested: Myasthenia gravis. Back to the news story:
Douglas traveled six hours to see the Ark on Saturday. She said she was disappointed by the way things turned out and had to explain to three employees why she was required to have a service dog.
How cruel! The news story says:
An Ark spokeswoman said they were looking into the matter. She said they do not allow service dogs in for mental health issues.
That makes sense. Hambo wouldn’t want animals making a mess in the ark. That would be disgusting! Here’s the end of this unpleasant story:
They referred us to their policy about service animals:
[Presumably a quote from Hambo’s policy:] At the Ark Encounter, a “service animal” is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Animals that are only used for “comfort,” “therapy,” or “emotional support” do not meet the definition of a service animal. No animals except for service animals assisting a person with a disability, or service animals with a qualified trainer, are allowed at the Ark Encounter.
If you plan to visit Hambo’s “replica” of Noah’s ark, it’s good know that they have a strict policy about animals. Except under the most extreme conditions, they’re not welcome.
Update: The TV station’s article has been re-titled. It’s now Ark Encounter denies turning woman, service dog away. It adds a long statement from Mark Looy, Ark Encounter’s chief compliance officer and co-founder, which denies everything, and finishes with this:
Looy also that while he is not suggesting this incident is a case of a “fake” service dog, he did say they are “becoming a big problem, and it’s why attractions are more vigilant than ever in keeping untrained comfort animals away from their guests and other animals.”
So there you are. We report, you decide.
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