By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The North Wildwood Police Department is investigating an incident last week in which a disabled veteran was given a ticket and kicked off the boardwalk because he was there with his service dog.
KYW Newsradio’s Molly Daly spoke with the executive director of a non-profit that trains service and companion dogs for the disabled.
Darlene Sullivan founded Canine Partners for Life 24 years ago. Back then, seeing eye dogs were common, but service and companion dogs were rare. Now, they’re used widely, for a range of physical and emotional disabilities, like PTSD. She says people tend to be more accepting when the human partner is visibly disabled.
“I have an invisible disability myself, and it’s very hard for people to understand what they can’t see when you have disabilities that don’t jump out and bite you like a wheelchair would,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan says being denied access is traumatic to the person who depends on the service dog. But she says there’s a positive side to the experience of the disabled vet in North Wildwood.
“It’s stories like the one you will air that will educate more people. But we just need to keep getting the word out there until people, all of the people, finally hear what we’re doing,” said Sullivan.