Los Angeles

Innkeepers Turned Woman Away Because She Has Service Dog, She Says

A Burbank, California, woman with a disability that affects her mobility contends she has been turned away from numerous motels because of her service dog, despite federal law that says service animals are protected and cannot be subject to the same rules as pets.

It's happened so many times to Lisa Stover, her son decided he would use his cellphone camera to record the next time she entered a motel to check in.

Not many years ago, Stover wrestled professionally and did Hollywood film stunts. She appeared in the Jim Carrey film, "Man on the Moon." But that was before the illness that restricted her mobility, a condition she overcomes with the help of a Labrador-Shepherd mix named Sammy, a certified service dog.

Stover had a prepaid reservation last week for a motel in Hollywood. But when she and her son walked up to the counter with Sammy to check in, the clerk shook his head no.

"No dogs," the clerk seems to say in cellphone video recorded by Stover's son, his voice somewhat muffled by the glass security wall in front of him.

"He's a service animal," replies Stover's son, Brandon Bostwick, a college student. He shows the clerk a card citing federal law that protects the status of service dogs and spells out that they are not subject to rules for pets.

The clerk is not persuaded. He can be heard in the video telling them they need to speak with the manager, who's outside. Stover and Bostwick did not find the manager and left, they said.

The episode occurred at the Budget Inn in Hollywood, Stover and her son said, making a point to emphasize it is not unique. Stover estimates it has happened a dozen times in the month since she lost her permanent housing and has had to seek a series of short-term alternatives.

When NBC4 went to the Budget Inn Monday, a different person was behind the counter, a woman who identified herself as the manager's mother. Daxe Patel said the inn does not have any restrictions against service dogs. When asked why Stover and Sammy were turned away, Patel replied, "I don't know."

Stover had reserved the room through an online booking service. Booking.com quickly arranged for Stover and her son to stay in a more expensive Hollywood hotel for the night and covered the difference in cost. But, relying on her disability income, Stover said she could not afford the higher rate beyond that night, and found herself again in search of a place to stay.

More than once, the family has had to overnight in Stover's aging Chevy Impala, she said.

She went to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which last Saturday found an inn on South Figueroa with a room to accommodate Stover, Bostwick and Sammy.

It makes for a long commute for Bostwick, who is attending the LA Film School in Hollywood, and his mother had hoped to find closer housing. But they are grateful for the hospitality they have
received in contrast with what they say they have encountered elsewhere.

The current arrangements, however, are only temporary. Stover expects to find out Tuesday if she will have to seek new accommodations, and once again face innkeepers who consider service animals the same as pets — excludable. 

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