Brunswick, Georgia- Christopher Carswell is an ordinary teenager that has his best friend "Bronx" with him everywhere he goes.
Bronx is no ordinary dog. He is a purebred West German Showline German Shepherd bred from world champion bloodlines trained to guide Chris as a Guide dog and to alert and to respond to Chris' seizures.
Chris and Bronx have been to Southeast Georgia Health System several times together.
On September 20, 2011 as Chris Carswell was waiting for his health appointment with his Guid dog/Seizure response dog "Bronx" he was wearing his clearly marked "service dog" vest with "guide handle." A female security guard began questioning Chris without the presence of his mother about whether "Bronx" was a hospital approved dog.
The female security guard left and returned with another hospital employee with further questions and requested the leash and service dog credentials from Chris. The security guard gave the leash back to Chris and left. All of this was observed by his mother and the hospital Admissions Clerk.
Chris's mother initially filed a complaint with Mrs. Shannon Smith. Mrs. Smith had Mr. Wolverton, the head of security, call the Carswells. He claimed that the hospital had the right to interrogate a minor child about a service dog, demand certification paperwork for the service dog and take possession of the leash because "other dogs were dirty or not well behaved."
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including hospitals and medical offices. Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person’s disability.
This is also a criminal offense in the state of Georgia:
30-4-4. Violations - Any person, firm, corporation, or the agent of any person, firm, or corporation who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the facilities enumerated in this chapter or otherwise interferes with the rights of a totally or partially blind person, physically disabled person, or deaf person or person engaged in the training or raising of a guide dog or service dog as provided by this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $2,000.00, imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both.
Chris refuses to return to this hospital for the way he was treated.
Southeast General Health System has not apologized for violating Chris' civil rights.
The Andrew Gordon Stevens Foundation has also began advocating for Chris and his mother.