By Melissa Scheffler
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
10:58 PM CDT, June 4, 2012
A Hays woman says her trip to Wichita to see a sick family member at Wesley Medical Center could have ended at the hospital's entrance. She says security stopped her for trying to bring-in two "therapy dogs." Factfinder12 found-out why there was so much confusion.
Lucy and Lola are not meant to be a fashion statement.
"They do look like pets, but they're not," Mary Copeland said.
The two Chihuahuas provide Copeland something nothing else can.
"She just keeps me calm. She licks me if she can tell I’m getting anxious," Copeland said.
Copeland says she suffers frompost-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Since Thursday morning, her two dogs have helped calm her when she visits her sister-in-law, who's a patient at Wesley. But Copeland says the hospital's security wasn't so welcoming of her therapy pups.
"We came in through the ER and that's when we got stopped by the security people about the dogs," Copeland said.
Here's where the confusion started.
Copeland has "therapy dogs.” Lucy is certified. Lola isn't. They provide emotional support. Factfinder12 learned they do not fall under the protection of ADA guidelines. That means a business can refuse them if it wants... certified or not.
It's different for "service animals." They are trained to do specific work or perform tasks for someone with a disability. They are protected by ADA guidelines. And they can rarely be refused inside anywhere the public is allowed to go.
Wesley did respond to Copeland's concerns. It sent out an email to its security staff members, reminding them of Wesley's animal policy. And Monday, Copeland was able to visit her sister-in-law, with Lucy and Lola by her side.
In a statement, Wesley says... it "welcomes service animals to accompany their owners at Wesley Medical Center."
Also the hospital is currently reviewing its policy on "therapy animals" and where they are allowed.
Copyright © 2013, KWCH-TV