Woman says service horse not allowed into hospital

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Woman taking legal action after she says service animal denied entry

MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — A woman is filing a lawsuit after hospital staff refused to let her service animal inside the building. She had to travel more than an hour to be treated.

Jennifer Inman has epilepsy, issues with mobility support, and PTSD. She has two miniature service horses, Rocky and Thunder to help her with her medical conditions.

“I might lose consciousness and in those moments Rocky will not only sense that before I do and put himself in a position to protect me. He alerts me before it happens and supports me after it does,” said Inman.

This week, they stepped up when she needed it most.

“I had an episode of light headedness coming down the stairs inside the house, and I lost my balance and fell down the stairs.”

Inman and one of her horses, Rocky, were put into an ambulance and taken to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon. Inman says when they got there, she was told Rocky could not come inside.

“I showed proper documentation that he is approved by the Department of Justice and protected under the American with Disability Act,” said Inman “I felt very discriminated against. I felt it was very unfair to my service animal.” Inman had to travel about an hour away to a hospital in Terre Haute, Indiana. “That was an additional hour of agonizing pain that I had to endure before seeing a physician,” said Inman.

A statement from Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital says in part:

Sarah Bush Lincoln doesn’t refuse care to anyone. We treat them, monitor them, and assist with mobility as necessary. Due to the size of our exam rooms, it could be difficult to provide care with a horse and two care providers. We permit other service animals besides dogs, including cats.”

Inman says she wants the hospital to change how they treat service animals.

“They are allowed access just as a service dog is and they are not to be discriminated against simply because they are a horse,” said Inman.

She has called the Department of Justice. She was told hospitals are not supposed to refuse to let Rocky inside. She says she was told service horses can go anywhere service dogs can go. She is filing a complaint with the ADA and filing a lawsuit.

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