Norwood Town Council hears complaint regarding service dogs, park facilities

During the public comments section of the Norwood Town Council meeting Monday, council members heard from a local resident about an incident between staff and a service dog owner.

Angie Mabry, accompanied by her service dog, Charley, spoke at the podium. She said she was walking April 18 and 19 at the paved path at Darrell Almond Park.

Mabry said someone with the Norwood town staff informed her she was not allowed to walk her dog on the path.

“It doesn’t affect Charley. Charley is a service dog who is not included in the ‘no dogs allowed,’ ” Mabry said, referring to the Americans With Disabilities Act.

She further suggested the town needs to send out information to employees about service dogs.

“I could have called the ADA and gotten them down here, and they would have had a ball. I just don’t think that’s right,” Mabry said.

“I was talked to pretty nasty on the 18th, not as bad on the 19th, but he told me I had to leave. The first guy, (I told) him it was a service dog. He said, ‘I don’t give a damn what it was,’ ” Mabry said.

Service dogs are different, she said, than emotional support animals.

“Everybody has been really nice until I get to Norwood…I understand Arbor Day was coming up and everything had to be spit shined. But you don’t have to be rude about it,” Mabry said.

During council comments, Councilman Keith Almond asked about putting a sign up which would say service dogs are allowed.

Town Administrator Scott Howard said the park has a dog park beside the baseball field with service stations. He said a similar question a year ago came up.

“In that situation, the town was justified not to allow dogs at that park. This situation, I don’t know about,” Howard said.

Almond said, “I’m pretty sure service dogs are pretty much allowed to go anywhere.”

According to the ADA, a service animal must be under control of the handler.

“Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities,” according to ADA.gov. “Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go.”

Mabry said dogs loose in the park are dangerous to her, but her dog is on a leash.

Councilman Robbie Cohen apologized to Mabry for what happened to her. “I hate that happened.”