Dog Discrimination

Woman's Personal Disease Exposed because of the Help of her Best Friend--a Service Dog

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 6:49pm

  Ben and Denise Weddington moved here recently from Oklahoma.  Although this state is known for it's southern hospitality, they haven't quite received the welcome that you would imagine.  From the outside looking in, Ben and Denise Weddington look like a nice, normal couple that have regular routines just like everyone else.  But there is one thing that sets them apart, and that is Gus.

  "He's very bonded to me and he has to be by my side all the time he wants to be touching me most of the time"--Denise Weddington

  What others cannot see from a distance is Denise's personal struggle with muscular dystrophy, and that Gus is not just a normal dog.

  "He can do laundry.  He can get things out of the back of the dryer for me."--Weddington

  Although Gus is always dressed with his working vest anytime Ben and Denise go out in public, Denise finds herself being stared at, sometimes even asked to leave.

  "Since I'm still ambulatory they don't see what is going on so they automatically think I'm just pulling a fast one or something I don't know."--Weddington

  Denise ways that the couple first experienced discrimination when they moved into their apartment complex.  There was a no dog over twenty-five pounds policy.

  "A little chihuahua is not going to help me off the floor."--Weddington

  Denise wants to reach out and inform people that service dogs are not just for the blind, their also for the physically disabled.  Gus is an eighty-five pound Golden Lab which means he is abale to help Denise with routine things that are particularly difficult to her.  Such as picking up a credit card off the floor and handing it to the cashier, fetching keys or the phone, even opening the refridgerator door.

  "He's there when I need him to be there."--Weddington

  Ben and Denise say that they've also been denied service at restaurants, even grocery stores.

  "I've come to terms with the disease, but every time somebody tells me I can't bring him in its like, okay well that's a reminder."--Weddington

  Not only is the unfair discrimination a constant reminder for Denise, it's also hurtful.

  "It makes me feel embarrassed, you know, cause I hate to be attention called to myself.  It makes me feel sometimes just actually ashamed."--Weddington

  Although Gus has a constant eye on Denise, when his vest comes off he loves being a regular dog.

  "He wants that appreciation.  He wants to be rewarded and he's big on treats.  Yeah, he likes to be rewarded a lot."--Weddington

  It's a humble reminder to sit back and think of someone's circumstance before being so quick to judge.

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Thanks Brittany and FOX news for doing our story. It was a pleasure working with you.

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