I like to alert your readers to a problem I had recently at the Bellmawr Red Roof Inn involving their treatment of me, and my service dog. I am hoping by sharing my story other people who are disabled who travel with a service dog will not be treated in such a humiliating way.
On November 16, 2017 we arrived at the Red Roof Inn Bellmawr NJ for an overnight stay on the way to Virginia Beach.
We arrived at approximately 1504 to check in. The woman at the desk stated "We do not allow pets". Naturally, my travel partner and myself explain that she is a Service Dog, and not a pet. (Important to keep that in mind, since Red Roof Corporate policy pets are permitted, and service dogs are always welcome.
The woman at the desk then requests:
Her ADA certificate as a service dog
Documentation stating she is a SD.
I give her one of the magic little cards we carry, which explains all of the federal guidelines. The woman states that it is "a town ordinance that dogs cannot be in the hotel without having her certificate"
I informed the desk clerk that:
There is no such certificate
Federal law trumps town rules
I will call the police to confirm this for them.
She still refused access.
I called the police department, and informed them what was going on. Four police officers were dispatched. I explained the situation to the officers, provided provided them with the federal guidelines, and showed them the cards we had provided to the hotel, as well as my medical documentation.
One of the officers went inside with my travel partner to talk to the franchise owner. While this was going on, I called Red Roof Corporate.
I explained the situation to corporate, who explained "this is definitely NOT how Red Roof Inn operates, we are NOT that type of business, and I feel incredibly bad that you've had this experience".
They placed me on hold, and contacted the hotel manager, who owns this location. The woman on the phone told me he is saying it's a town rule, I explained to her that the four police officers here have never heard of it.
She eventually came back on the line, saying that between the franchisee, corporate, and the police, they had reached an agreement to allow us to stay, but there would be a $50 dog fee.
This it is a clear violation of federal law. I calmly told the woman that an agreement like that would NOT work for me. She asked what I meant, I explained how that is illegal, and asked if they would charge me a fee for checking in with a wheelchair as well.
The woman replies "oh.....I hadn't even thought of that, let me make a phone call and get this squared away"
She stated she could hardly hear me, and I explained that I was sorry, but it is rather windy outside. She said "outside?", and I reminded her that we were not being allowed into the building. She was instantly livid, and apologetic, as she realized at this point we had been on the phone, and outside, for 52 minutes.
Eventually, we were allowed to check in, and granted access to our room.
The manager was told by corporate that he cannot require documentation, and he cannot charge a pet fee for a service dog. When we left the next day, the signs were still up saying those are required. All night, and the next morning, I was harassed by desk staff, stating "Sir, we don't allow pets in here". You would think with an issue the resulted in the police being called, the manager would have informed all of his staff, or told them to tell the next shift.
All told, total check in time was approximately one hour and 15 minutes, with no other guests present.