What It Is Like To Be Discriminated Against At A Hotel While Traveling With A Service Dog

Tonight was an eye opening experience.  This was the first time I’ve ever been openly discriminated against at a hotel, spent hours on the phone with customer service, and involved the local police with no major resolve but the basic requests I was asking for at the beginning.

Let’s start from the beginning.

I spent a horrible time at the Vermont VA hospital trying to get my medication refilled (blog coming later).  It was a long and crappy day.  The weather claimed it was going to rain so I decided to move on to Portland Maine, get a hotel room, work on my blog as well as have a place to crash after hitting up some local breweries and a local lobster roll truck that I heard was the bees knees.  This was my plan.  It obviously did not go this way.

Now I apologize for no major pictures or making this a glamorous blog post like I normally do.  I’m writing as all of this is occurring.  It’s 9:39pm, September 14th 2017, right now and I am still currently on hold with Marriott Hotel customer care.  I booked this hotel today while driving trying to figure out the weather and what I could do.  I live my life by the weather pretty much.  If it’s a rainy day I want to book a hotel and catch up on all my missed blog posts.  This was my plan for tonight and all day tomorrow being that I’m 3 blog posts behind.  I thought I booked this hotel for 2 nights using 30,000 Marriott rewards points.  I was wrong according to the cops who said the system showed me for one night not two, but more on that later.

I arrived at the hotel around 5pm driving from the Vermont VA hospital to Portland Maine.  I had a work meeting scheduled once I hit the hotel to talk about my blog and ways to improve it.  My work meeting was cancelled due to the need to be on the phone with customer care and try to get a resolve on this discrimination that occurred.

Backtracking,  I arrive at the hotel.  I go in with Indiana with his vest on (my old military uniform with patches saying PTSD Service Dog).  I tell the man behind the desk, who happens to be Adam Green the manager, that I am checking in.  I asked for a top floor room or something higher than 1st floor.  He tells me first floor are the only pet friendly rooms.  I told him Indiana isn’t a pet he’s a service dog and I’d feel more comfortable on a higher floor.  Adam wouldn’t budge.  By that point I didn’t feel like arguing.  I had a crappy day and I just wanted to shower and work.  Then he hands me the paper talking about pet rules for the hotel with the $75 cleaning fee crossed out.  I fill it out making sure I put service dog on the form.  Adam then goes into breakfast hours.  This is where I got really upset.  He told me Indiana couldn’t accompany me to breakfast.  They do not allow dogs in the “carpeted area,” which was the whole dinning area to get breakfast and to eat.  I told him that he couldn’t do that because Indiana wasn’t a pet dog, he was a service dog.  It would be like asking a person in a wheel chair they couldn’t use it because there wasn’t enough room for the wheel chair in the buffet line.  Adam kept insisting it was because they tried to make it as “Pet” free as possible.  Again I told him my dog is a service dog and not a PET!  Adam refused to understand asking me if I could let some stranger hold him while I got breakfast.  This point I’m livid and I grab my key for my room and go.

After grabbing all my things and getting into my room my first move was to get on the phone with Marriott hotel customer service.  I was on hold for 10 minutes to get ahold of reservations.  They told me I had to talk to someone from the rewards department.  Transferred to the Marriott rewards department and another 10 minutes has elapsed until they tell me I need to talk to someone from customer care.  15 minutes has elapsed and the Marriott customer care person talked to me then went back to speak with “Adam”.  Again, neither would budge on moving my room or letting me have my service dog with me for breakfast.  By that point I asked for some points back since I wouldn’t be using breakfast then if I was going to get harassed for having my service dog with me.  Again both Adam and this Marriott representative wouldn’t budge.  Adam and the representative had the audacity to ask for “paperwork” for Indiana.  Now mind you I do have paperwork for Indiana.  I have one from a lawyer stating my rights and that Indiana is a service dog, I have one from the trainer, as well as a letter from my therapist stating Indiana is a trained PTSD service dog.  This paperwork is really only required in Canada and Europe! I only have this paperwork due to going to Canada as well as having issues flying and them still not understanding the difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog (click her to learn the difference).  However, according to the ADA a vest or paperwork is not required for a service dog in the United States.

I finally asked to speak with a supervisor because my level of anger hit 110% plus 2 beers in.  Jenna got on the line.  She was somewhat sympathetic but not really.  I finally got her to the point she offered me 5,000 points back and I said after the 2 hours on the phone this now wasn’t good enough due to having my whole night ruined by this discrimination.   Jenna then said she would research some things and call me back.  By this time I went down to the Marriott hotel front desk to get Adam’s full name and file an ADA Discrimination Complaint against him (17-d7l8t-200j).  Not only that but I did bring my paperwork from the lawyer, only to give to him so he could see he was breaking the law by denying me a different room and access with my service dog to breakfast.  I also informed him I would be calling the cops due to this discrimination.  That got him a little worried.

Now I know the cops can’t really do jack squat in these types of situations.  I also apologized to them profusely for having to even get to this level to call them on this idiot.  I explained the situation and how this manager obviously doesn’t know the ADA laws on service dogs.  The two officers then left and talked to Adam.  They came back informing me I didn’t book 2 nights at the hotel at 30,000 points it was only 1 night.  Now even more upset I wasted so many points on one night at this hell hole, the officers told me that they were able to get him to understand my dog is a service dog and Adam would move me to the 2nd floor since the 3rd floor was all full.  I told the officers I would like to move to the 2nd floor because of not feeling safe on the bottom floor.  After that the cops said they couldn’t do anymore to help me in this matter.  I told them I understood and appreciated all their help.

Once the cops left it was back on the phone to customer care.  It was another 30-40 minutes give or take and I got a hold of Trisha.  By 9:44pm, Trisha, the 2nd Marriott hotel customer care supervisor I spoke with, said I need to talk to Mr. Marriott’s consumer affairs department due to the level of escalation.  She provided me with the number and I need to call during business hours tomorrow.  We shall see if anything gets resolved.

It’s now 10:29pm.  I’m still wired and insanely upset that my simple 2 requests were denied because of having a service dog.  While yes now I can bring him with me to breakfast and I did get moved to the 2nd floor this is more than just about me now.  This is for all the other people with legit service dogs who might have to go though this discrimination when they check into this Marriott Hotel.  From 5pm until 9:30pm I felt unsafe and harassed.  I still fell harassed but the unsafe feeling is gone now that I’m no longer on the lower level of the hotel.  My point is, no one should have to feel this way!  Having a service dog is meant to help that person.  It’s not meant to be a catch 22 where you get the help you need from your service dog but then have to deal with constant harassment and or discrimination.  This is why I’ve made this into such a huge deal!

Please help share this blog to call out the Marriott Hotel on their policies or the lack of service dog training their staff receives.  Don’t let another veteran or another disabled person with a service dog go through hours of talking on the phone with customer care with no resolve.  This is a time to learn and make sure this doesn’t happen again!


8:52am after a nice long shower I desperately needed I called Mr. Marriott’s office.  It was the number that Trisha provided me.  I spoke with Christine who informed me since this was a service issue with the hotel the hotel would have to be the one to resolve the issue.  I told her after my whole night ruined by being on the phone with customer service as well as speaking with the police I’m asking for all my points back.  It’s a matter of principle and education now.  She told me that she would have to call me back with what the hotel decided to do.

12:20pm I called Christine back since I had yet to hear from her or the hotel.  Christine apologized and said she was getting all the notes written up to send to Katy the current hotel manager.  She then offered me a free night stay at one of the Marriott hotels in Portland Maine.  I accepted and got a room at the Fairfield Inn 15 minutes from downtown.  Christine assured me Katy would be calling me as well.

1:17pm Katy called and apologized profusely for the way her fellow manager handled the situation.  Due to the fact I didn’t get any rest or relaxation she offered to give me all my points back for the stay.  I told her I appreciated it and that I hope they do follow up on service dog training in the future to avoid any issues with the next person who comes in with a service dog especially since my requests were very basic.

While I appreciate Marriott fixing the issue and issuing me my points back and a free night stay to keep me as a customer I can honestly say that this was a first when staying with the Marriott.  I do love Marriott hotels and since my road trip I’ve really only stayed in Marriott hotels.  So this experience with Adam was out of the ordinary.  I just was so utterly upset by the level of stubbornness Adam had to not wanting to learn that he was legally in the wrong I felt I had to put him on blast.

Everything has been resolved I just hope Adam learns his lesson about the ADA.

Indiana’s Final Thoughts


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 thoughts on “What It Is Like To Be Discriminated Against At A Hotel While Traveling With A Service Dog

  1. Im so sorry you had to go through that. They should be ash of how they treated you both. I looked them up, and whicH Marriott is it? Maybe consider writting some reviews online about them too? Keep your chin up!

    1. Thank you! I’m putting them on blast on all social media I can currently. I will be calling corporate after I finally get to take a shower this morning. I’m obviously not going to get breakfast here.
      It’s the Residence Inn Marriott Portland Scarborough in Maine.

  2. Good for you fOr standing up for what’s right! KarMa for him should be interesting…

  3. PTSD is a mental illness, therefore you do actually need a doctor’s letter in order to fly with your psychiatric service dog. The letter must be less than a year old, on doctor’s letterhead, state that you have a mental disability that is listed in the DSM, state that your dog helps with your disability, and fit the other requirements. You are also required to notify the airline about your dog at least 48 hours in advance of the flight. Flying is under the Air Carrier Access Act, not the ADA.

    As for the hotel, it helps if you show them the laws or have them call up either corporate or the ADA Hotline, as well as educate on what service dogs are and what tasks yours does for you (a question they can legally ask). It also helps if you don’t succumb to their wishes of certain rooms and saying you can’t go certain places with your service dog (pools are legally off limits), since they will learn you can be budged. Rest assured this is not a Marriott policy, just an uneducated or jerk employee at one location.

    1. That’s actually false information. If it’s a service dog regardless if it’s for a mental illness or a physical disability it’s not required to have a doctors note to fly. The only time a doctors note is required is if the dog is an ESA. Trust me I’ve flown with my dog on over 40 flights & had him for almost 5 years now.

      Also I’ve been on the phone with corporate & again I know my ADA rights since I’ve had my service dog for almost 5 years. This is why I made such a stink about this hotel manager & got cops involved since he didn’t want me to educate him on service dog laws.

      1. It is not false information at all. It is the law that handlers of psychiatric service dogs as well as owners of emotional support animals must follow the same steps for having the doctor’s letter and advanced notice. With your psychiatric service dog, you do indeed need to follow the law and have the letter and give advanced notice when flying. I have had service dogs for a lot longer than you and been on more than double the amount of flights with them as you, as well as know the laws very well, but you can easily verify THE law by looking up the Air Carrier Access Act. (People who have service dogs for physical disabilities do not require a doctor’s letter when flying, but due to abuse by pet owners, doctor’s letters were put into place as a requirement for both emotional support animals and psychiatric service dogs. It has been this way since long before you had your dog.)

        1. That must have recently changed then because I’ve never had to show paperwork. Also I had screen shots of all the airlines rules on service dogs & ESA’s last time I flew (over a year ago). All the airlines except American still say service dogs don’t need paperwork only ESA’s.
          This is also the thing that erks me because there’s too many terminologies with service dogs that people get ESA’s & them mixed up all the time.
          It’s so simple a service dog is trained to preform a task based on the persons disability either mental or physical.
          There should be no distinction between a mental or physical disability when it comes to service dog laws either because that creates even more confusion.
          ESA’s have honestly in my opinion ruined things for people with trained service dogs.

          1. It is not new, as the current law has been in effect since 2009. I checked several airlines’ sites (including Delta and United) and, with the exception of Southwest, they all still list the doctor’s letter requirement for both emotional support animals and psychiatric service dogs, as they have for years. The lawmakers know exactly what the difference between emotional support animals and psychiatric service dogs are, but had to group them together because of all the fakers trying to pass their pets off as psychiatric service dogs. Unfortunately, it no longer works to keep the fakers out because of the scam ID and fake doctor’s letters sites. Since emotional support animals are not trained, they should not be allowed in planes except as any other small pet (in a carrier under the seat for a pet fee), and hopefully the law will be changed that way, but change has been put on the back burner for now.

          2. I honestly think we should do away with the whole ESA thing because that’s how people with legitimate service dogs are getting screwed over. People assume ESA’s have the same rights as service dogs and they don’t. That’s why yes lawmakers might know the laws but common people don’t that or they are trying to abuse the system. I feel as though when ESA’s were created it was a loophole to avoid paying pet fees etc.
            I just hate being lumped in with people with ESA’s if that’s true that airlines are doing that. My dog is trained and does way more for me than just be a damn dog to comfort me.

  4. PTsd is not only a “psyc” issue, PTSD can also take on Significent “physical” EFFECTs. that is why a “PTSD DOg” is often given “Service dog” TITLE and rights.

    Thank you for your Service!
    Wishing you both Happy, healthy and stress free Travels Wandering Dog!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *