Man with service dog barred from library

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SAN DIEGO -- Bill Brierley was planning on seeing the downtown city library for the first time, but when he got to the front door he was turned away by security because of his service dog.

Brierly recorded the incident with his cell phone. In the video, he is seen telling the librarian on duty that his dog, Chase, is a service dog. and he is trained in medical alert. But the librarian says, “It’s not enough. Call the police. Kick him out.”

Brierley was incensed.

“My dog is a service dog with papers, and because I didn’t want to give the librarian the details of my illness, he rejects me from the library in direct violation of the Americans with Disability Act.”

The librarian in charge declined to speak with Fox 5, but the city released this statement: "City management takes these sorts of alleged incidents very seriously and will be conducting a thorough review.”


  • buc webb

    i am empathetic with the gent, but the new library rules are to show your papers from the county of san diego application for assistance dog idendification tag (which you can later print out as documentation)…we (roxy, my service pooch) and i have been asked for the documentation at petco park, the mission valley library and security at the downtown hyatt (by security) during comic con…we find it really easy to print out a reduced copy, then have it laminated (we still it in our back pocket)…it also helps to show them the brass “california assistance dog tag” that corresponds with the documentation…just trying to help

    • umrayya

      Requiring any kind of paperwork for access is a direct violation of both federal and California state law. Service dog handlers must fight this illegal requirement.

    • Sam

      That is against the law. Locals may have a San Diego tag and papers, but anyone who does not live there will not, so the library (or anywhere else) may not require someone to produce those documents for entry.

    • umrayya

      Buc Webb, every time you comply with a demand for paperwork you are encouraging gatekeepers to violate both federal and state law, and doing harm to service dog handlers who do not allow gatekeepers to violate our rights by illegally requiring documentation for access.

    • Bob Lagagi (@BigBadBobLagagi)

      I work for the library and actually just attended a meeting last week where one of the topics covered was patrons with service dogs. It was reiterated that we can only ask two questions: 1) “Is your dog a service dog?”, and 2) “What task has it been trained to perform?”. That’s it. We don’t ask for papers, certificates, dog vests, notarized testimony from your mom’s best friend’s dog trainer, or anything else.

      • umrayya

        That’s good to know, Bob Lagagi. Sounds like the library employee in this story was even more out of line than it appeared at first.

        Did they also tell you that you may legally remove a service dog if its behavior is out of control, if its behavior poses a threat to safety, or if it is not housebroken? Those are important bits of information that for some reason seem to be left out of the training all too often. The library has rights too!

        • Bob Lagagi (@BigBadBobLagagi)

          From what I remember, a “comfort animal” is not allowed. If it is a service dog we can tell the owner to leave if the service dog is out of control, damaging property, threatening people, repeatedly barking. One example given was if the dog barked because someone accidentally stepped on its tail, or barking is a trained response to the handler’s condition, then the dog can stay. If the dog is barking because of anything else (examples included another service dog, or lack of control by the handler) then that is grounds for us to ask the person to leave.
          Another thing that was stressed was that a “service animal” is a dog. The person at the meeting also mentioned something about miniature horses but he didn’t get into specifics since there wasn’t time to cover everything.

          Lastly, this wasn’t a specific ADA/service animal training session I attended. It was a short 10 minute presentation that was part of a longer meeting.

          • umrayya

            A so-called “comfort animal”, or ESA (Emotional Support Animal) is a pet that is not trained to perform any disability-mitigating task or work, but that mitigates a disability by its presence. ESA’s are not covered by the ADA, but they are covered by the laws that govern air travel and housing as well as some state and local laws. Where ESA’s are covered by law, those laws supersede federal law because they are less restrictive.

            Barking that is out of control, or that becomes disruptive is definitely a justification for having a service dog removed.

            And by the way, technically you may not ask the person to leave. You may ask them to remove the dog, but you must allow them to return without the dog and receive the goods and/or services they came for if they choose to.

            Miniature horses are allowed by law. They are trained and used by some people as guides for the blind, for balance and mobility, and for autism. They are not common, however.

  • Carol

    Sorry dude, your service dog is not so. I am tired of people with so called service dogs that are not really certified or have any training. I can go on line and get a certification and a cape for a dog for $99.00. Doesn’t mean it’s a service dog. I have raised and trained service dogs for work so don’t say I have no knowledge.

    • umrayya

      “I am tired of people with so called service dogs that are not really certified or have any training.”
      Sorry, dude, but there is no such thing as service dogs that are “really certified” because there is no such thing as “real” service dog certification, so despite your claim to the contrary, you don’t appear to know what you are talking about.

    • lilfarfa

      Carol, I’m sick of people assuming a service dog is not valid. This handler did everything correctly. He provided the same answer to the “What does the service dog do” question that I do.

  • Sue

    Buc, under the federal ADA regulations, the library (or any other place of public accommodation) cannot require persons with disabilities to provide any documentation or have their service dogs wear identification tags in order to receive access. See

    Carol, I’m not sure how you can determine whether a person has a disability or not based on some video from a news report. Unless you have personal knowledge of this gentleman’s medicat history, there is no basis for your statement. Many people have disabilities that may not be apparent to others. Additionally, the ADA does not require any certification for service dogs. A person who has raised and trained service dogs should know that.

    • umrayya

      Well said, Sue. Not only does the ADA not require certification, there is no legally recognized service dog certification in existence, and it is a violation of federal and state law to require certification or any other documentation for access.

  • MC Hutson

    Carol – You are the sorry one here. I’ve known Bil for 5 years and his service dog has traveled all over with him, with great respect, everywhere he has gone. Bil has the certification of his phone which he was more than happy to share but the “Librarian” wanted to know what health issues Bil has which required a service dog. Even if this would have been a scam from someone like yourself, that information is private and is not required to be devulged by the individual to justify having a service dog. These public employees need training to learn the Federal ADA laws and understand what is & is not required, over and above their own personal opinion of the situation. Don’t be one of those morons who judge whether someone has a medical need simply by the way they look to you.

    • lilfarfa

      I am curious as to what certification he has on his phone because there is no legally recognized or required certification for service dogs, and unless it came from a program (which would be in the form of a “badge”), its a scam. Further, providing any “certification”, whatever its source is a disservice to the service dog community as a whole bc it teaches the gate keeper that its ok to ask for it.

  • Dianna Haught

    Carol, I know Bill and his beautiful pup. The dog is a certified service dog and has been welcomed as such in many places around the SD area and on cruise ships. The librarian was out of line. End of story.

    • umrayya

      Dianna Haught, the dog is certified by whom?! I don’t know Bill or his dog, so cannot comment on whether the dog is really a service dog (my practice is to give him the benefit of the doubt), but there is no such thing as a certified service dog. There is no legal service dog certification that is either issued or recognized by the government. So, every time someone says the dog is a certified service dog it raises a red flag for those of us who really know the law.

  • Barry

    Sorry, but no agency will issue you a service dog permit, it is against Federal Law for them to ask as then it leads to what could your illness be. As for service animals they can only be dogs or a small pony, don’t ask me why the pony is there, it makes no sense.

    • umrayya

      Barry, miniature horses, not ponies, are recognized as service animals. They are not the same thing. And yes, it DOES make sense. Miniature horses are very good as guides for the blind, balance and mobility, and as autism service animals. They have a few advantages over dogs. For one thing they live about twice as long as dogs, and so have about double the service life, and for another they have better peripheral vision than dogs do.

  • Kim

    This is very sad. A gentleman who has valid documentation for his service animal can not get into a library, but undocumented individuals might be able to vote and obtain drivers licenses and SSN cards in the near future. This makes no sense America.

    • umrayya

      Kim, there is no such thing as “valid documentation” for a service dog, and it is a violation of both state and federal law to require any kind of documentation or other physical proof to allow access to a service dog and handler.

      • Kim

        I agree there is no documentation that is required by law. I also agree that by law an establishment can’t legally ask for documentation. However there is documentation (such as a service dog training certificate, doctor’s note, etc.) that can be shown IF the disabled individual wants to disclose it. However an establishment can ask the gentleman two questions: 1) is the service dog required because of a disability, and 2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. I am not really sure why we are nitpicking the article. The librarian over stepped her authority and the gentleman should have been let in as long as his dog was under control.

        • lilfarfa

          Showing documentation of any form during an access challenge is harmful to the service dog community as a whole. It teaches gatekeepers that it is ok to ask for it, and it is not. It is better to carry a copy of the ADA and the codes for the applicable state laws. I carry business card size cards that explain the ADA and the Lexus Nexus codes for the state laws programmed in my phone bc the police do not often know the laws.

          • umrayya

            Bob Lagagi, you are technically correct. However, I will often say my dog is a medical alert dog, and have never been challenged over that answer. A complete answer that does not require disclosing medical details would be something like “my dog alerts me to medically significant changes by [describe what the dog does to alert]”. Generally, though, “the dog alerts me to medically significant changes” should be enough.

            However, if the library employee wanted a more complete answer, he behaved 100% inappropriately. The correct thing to do would be to say something like “how does your dog alert you?” or “would you please describe what your dog does to alert you?” What you may NOT do, as I am sure you know, is require the person to disclose any information about their disability. The way I often explain it to people is that you may ask questions about the dog and what it does, but you may not ask questions about the handler.

          • Sue

            Bob, his response that the dog performs medical alerts should be adequate. That is the task the dog has been trained o do. It matters not HOW the dog does the task, only that he has been trained to perform it reliably. If I’m asked what my task my service dog provides, I advise that he has been trained to do mobility work. I am not required to describe precisely how he does it. No one wants to stand there long enough for me to detail all the various aspects that
            “mobility work” entails, and neither do I.

          • lilfarfa

            You don’t have to know what behavior the dog does to alert. All you need to know is that the dog is an alert dog, which means the dog alerts to a medical condition the handler has before an episode occurs.

  • sandy

    Service dogs should have ID. I was in Henry’s in Encinitas awhile back and a couple walked in with
    a large dog and casually walked around the store. No ID or harness. I have also seen customers put their animals in a basket. This is a health issue. I made a comment to the cashier upon leaving and was told they cannot do anything about it. I notified the Department of Health in San Diego and was told that employees of a store are not allowed to question the owner of the dog about their disability or to question whether the dog is a service dog. Was also told that they would notify the manager of the store and he should speak with his employees. At that time the Encinitas store did not have a notice on their door regarding service dogs, only. I hope they do now.

    • umrayya

      Sandy, both federal AND state law are explicitly clear that no form of ID is required for a service dog handler to have access with their dog. Period.

      And why would you ask the health department for information about disability law, or take their word for it? Would you ask a government department that deals with disability laws about health codes? Not surprisingly the San Diego Department of Health gave you false information. No one is allowed to question anyone about their disability, but they most certain ARE allowed to ask whether a dog is a service dog, and they may ask what tasks the dog performs for the handler.

      The law allows the establishment to deny access or remove a dog if the dog is out of control, is not house broken, or poses a threat to safety by its behavior.

      Further, none of us service dog handlers, or members of the public is entitled to demand that an establishment not allow pet dogs. If you don’t want to be in a place where people bring dogs, then don’t go in.

    • lilfarfa

      No, service dog handlers should not have to carry IDs. This would be discriminatory as no other class of citizen has to show an ID just to enter a building. There is also no way to enact such a program that wouldn’t either take service dogs out of the hands of many that rely on them, or legitimize fakers. All that is needed is for businesses to enforce their rights by asking both questions allowed under the ADA and removing dogs that are not properly behaved, also as allowed by the ADA.

      As for the situations you described, service dogs do not have to have any form of ID. There are legitimate reasons why one would not want to vest or ID their dog. The top being because the general public tends to bother us more when our dogs are vested. I literally can not go 2 feet in Wal Mart when my service dog is vested without being stopped by a curious customer. Yet, when I do not have my dog vested, people leave us alone.

      As for small dogs in carts, again, there are circumstances where this is not only allowable, but the best practice. People are not looking for dogs in stores. They often “do not see” my 110 lb service dog, and I have to watch out for him or his foot or tail will get run over. For a small breed dog, this could be life threatening. A service dog being in a cart is no more a health issue than a service dog being in the building.

      • umrayya

        Very well said again, Lilfarfa.

        A few words about dogs in carts.

        My service dog weighs less than six pounds, and nearly always walks, sits, or lies on the floor. The exceptions are when I determine it is not safe for him to be on the floor. One of those exceptions is when we are in our local Costco store. I have had people ram their carts into ME hard enough to hurt, as well as run their carts over my feet. If people are so distracted that they don’t even see a full-size adult human being, my tiny dog is at serious risk on the floor in that store. So, that is the one situation in which he rides in the child seat of the cart. I do arrange it so my dog does not come into direct contact with the cart itself.

        The health complaints are just silly. Babies and small children, not dogs, carry diseases that humans can get, and children are one of the most common transmitters of diseases and various infectious agents. Frankly, one of the reasons I do not put my dog directly in contact with the child seat of the cart is that I don’t want him coming in contact with whatever substances have been left there from human children’s wet or dirty diapers, or the gunk they smear all over from their mouths and noses because then whatever infectious agents have gotten onto his fur from the cart will be transmitted to me.

  • Miccilina Piraino

    IF the dog was wearing a service dog vest that is given OFFICIALLY, then they were not correct in telling him he could not enter. If the dog is just an UN official service dog (the owner SAYS he is), then they were quite correct in their actions. MTS is so afraid of people suing them , they take ANY animals, whether restrained or not now, if someone just says it is a service animal. The library should have asked for documentation and treated this on a case by case basis. when someone produces documentation or the animal is wearing that vest, the law says they come in.

    • umrayya

      There is no such thing as a service dog vest that is given OFFICIALLY, and service dogs are not required to wear vests or any other sort of identifying gear or apparel.

      There is no such thing as official or UN official service dogs.

      The library has no legal right to ask for documentation. Both federal and state law prohibit requiring documentation.

      Every single statement you have made here is simply false. You have zero clue what you are talking about. Please do some research, and learn a little bit about the law before making statements about it.

    • lilfarfa

      There is no such thing as an OFFICIAL service dog vest. There is no OFFICIAL service dog anything. Service dogs do not have to be vested. They do not have to come from programs. There is no paperwork, there is no id, there is no certification. Service dogs can be legally trained by their disabled handlers.

  • Maria carpenter

    Come on guys, no real fed certification, cannot ask what disability is legally. Anyone can buy an ID and vest and patches online. The tasks can be clearly defined by the handlers disability, whether invisible or visible. The actions and and way the real service animal acts in public, etc. will obviously let you know if it is a real service animal. If the animal is a real service animal with real training whether organizational or owner trained will not disrupt business or impede it. Showing id, or allowing this only enforces the scam companies selling these false identities and encourages fakers making it hard for others. Federal law will always trump city and state, also is against one’s civil rights!

    • lilfarfa

      You are right, except for the federal law always trumping state law. The ADA has a clause called the Least Restrictive Clause. It states that when state/local/federal laws conflict, the one that is least restrictive on the handler trumps.

    • umrayya

      Thank you, Maria Carpenter!

      Just one small correction. Federal law does not always trump city and state. In the case of civil rights laws, such as the ADA the least restrictive law generally trumps the more restrictive law. So, in cases in which state or local laws are less restrictive than the ADA, as some state and local laws are, those laws will trump federal law.

      • Big Farfa

        The county of San Diego is in violation of both federal and state law. There is no requirement for SD documentation on the fed level and in CA it is voluntary. If you have ID and show it what happens to me when I come to San diegoo and want to go some place? I don’t have papers from Calif. By flashing papers for anyone who asks yu show yourelf a wuss and make life harder for the rest of us.

    • Bob Lagagi (@BigBadBobLagagi)

      From Mr. Brierly’s video the librarian did not inquire about his illness. Establishments are allowed to ask two questions, 1) Is it a service animal? 2) If it is, what specific task is it trained to provide that service? Papers, jackets, whatever do not matter.
      “Trained in medical alert” does not answer question #2 as Mr. Brierly did not disclose the SPECIFIC TASK or TASKS his service dog is trained to do.

      • lilfarfa

        Yes, “Medical alert” IS an example of a task that a service dog does. The handler does not have to disclose what the dog alerts to as that would be forcing them to disclose the disability. In the ADA Final Rule, the ADA describes “Medical Alert” as an example of a task that a service dog can do.

      • lilfarfa

        Further, the handler does not have to disclose all the tasks the dog is trained to do, just one. I often reply with “Medical Alert”. My dog is also a medical response and mobility dog. The handler can be very generic as not to disclose the disability.

        • Bob Lagagi (@BigBadBobLagagi)

          That’s the thing…to the stupid everyday people like me, what is “medical alert”? It’s not specific. If he said something like “my dog alerts me by licking my right hand” or “my dog alerts me by pawing at my leg” then that answers question #2 and he should be allowed in the building.

          • umrayya

            In that case, Bob Lagagi, a reasonable person would not respond to the person saying the dog does medical alert by rudely stating that is not good enough or that is not enough information. They would respond by politely asking for a description of the behavior the dog performs to alert the handler.

            But it sounds like you know that.

          • lilfarfa

            You do not know what behavior the dog does to alert the handler. All you need to know is that the dog alerts. Legally, you have no right to know anything further.

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