A North Carolina family's reservation at a Best Western in Baton Rouge, La. was canceled after the they informed the hotel that they would be bringing their epileptic son's service dog, a golden retriever named Chip, with them.
Karen Vaughn's son, Beau, has a rare form of epilepsy called Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, which requires that he have Chip, who is trained to alert the family when Beau has a seizure.
The Americans with Disabilities Acts covers service dogs like Chip, so while the Vaughns are not required to give notice when they bring the dog, they often do anyway as a courtesy. When they told the Best Western, the hotel responded by canceling their reservation.
"We got an email saying due to unforeseen circumstances, they will not be able to honor our reservations," Karen Vaughn told WAFB. Working through that they said, 'Oh you're bringing a pet and Best Western isn't pet friendly.'"
An employee at the hotel told WAFB that they are aware of the law that allows for Chip to be there, but also said "workers can't go against what the owner says."
Karen Vaughn, an attorney who specializes in the rights for children with special needs, was contacted a week later by Best Western corporate to apologize, and to tell her that they would honor their reservation.
"I've already booked with another hotel that's understanding and happy to follow the law," she told WAFB. "I don't want to go to a hotel where I have to force them to follow the law."
UPDATE 06/19/14, 3:57 p.m.: Best Western corporate sent along the following statement:
Best Western International requires each independently owned and operated hotel to comply with all federal, state and local laws and standards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"). We provide extensive training to ensure our hotels understand and address the needs of guests with special needs. When this matter came to our attention, we immediately provided direction to the hotel and a reservation was offered to the family. We deeply regret the matter and we will continue to proactively communicate ADA requirements and training to Best Western branded hotels to ensure all guests are treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
Further, we have restricted the hotel on our reservations systems and we have required the hotel to stop representing itself as a Best Western branded hotel (cover or remove all Best Western signs and logos) until its representatives attend a hearing at our corporate headquarters at which their future association with Best Western will be decided.