Veteran claims salon refused service because of service dog

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KOKOMO, Ind. (May 7, 2015)-- A central Indiana veteran is fighting for her rights after she claims a Kokomo salon would not allow her service dog in when she tried to get her hair cut.

Jody Mitchell has a hearing impairment and PTSD from her time serving in the U.S. Army. On top of that, a civilian injury to her head has impacted her mobility. Her service dog Ella helps make life a little easier.

“She has added a whole new sense of independence and freedom," said Mitchell. “I take her obviously everywhere with me and pretty much everybody is very accepting of her and loving of her.”

Almost everyone.

Mitchell said last week, she went to get a hair cut at Solutions Day Spa on South Lafountain Street and got a different reaction.

"'Your dog is not allowed in here. I hope you’re gonna take that dog and put her in the car,'” said the employee, Mitchell claims. "I tried to tell her, I said 'Ok, she’s not a dog. She’s a service animal. By federal statute she’s allowed access in here.' She’s like no she’s a dog. We have a letter that says dogs are not allowed.”

Mitchell said the employee could clearly see Ella was marked as a service dog. She even tried to explain the Americans with Disabilities Act, but nothing seemed to work.

“I went around the corner to Great Clips… and they took her no problem.”

FOX59 tried to get some answers from the salon. Co-owner Holly Ireland told us Mitchell's story was "not accurate" but wouldn't explain why and asked us to leave the salon.

Outside the business, a "No pets allowed" sign was posted on the front door. Mitchell said she wished the salon understood Ella is not a pet.

"It’s kind of (a)… slap in the face," she told FOX59. "This person didn’t even acknowledge the state statutes, the federal statutes. It was just 'No dogs are allowed.'"

Mitchell has filed an ADA complaint. Violators of the act can be required to pay monetary damages and penalties.