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Spa owner denies service dog was kicked out | News

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Spa owner denies service dog was kicked out

DULUTH, Ga. -- It's the kind of story that spreads quickly on social media: a demand to boycott a business after a woman and her service dog were asked to leave. The 11Alive newsroom received multiple emails, Facebook messages, and phone calls asking us to investigate the claims. The two sides disagree about what happened last Sunday night at the Jeju Spa. 

Allison Waters says the and her Chihuahua, Pixie, visited the JeJu Spa with her friend Linda Smith August 9.  She says after they had already disrobed and entered the hot tub, an employee asked them to go back to the front and speak with the manager about the dog.  Waters, who has a spinal cord injury, said she relies on Pixie to sense impending seizures and when she needs to take medication.

"I asked, 'Couldn't the manager come back here to the hot tub so I wouldn't have to get back in my wheelchair and get dressed,' but she said this is a woman-only nude area and the manager is a man," Waters recounted. 

Waters says she was rudely treated by several employees in a changing area as she attempted to get dressed.  

"This woman got in my face when I tried to tell her Pixie is a service dog," she said.  "Here I am, naked in my wheelchair, trying to get dressed with her yelling at me and everyone staring.  It was humiliating."

Waters ended up in a confrontration with Manager David Barkdoll, who posted a clip from a cell phone video on the spa's Facebook page.

"She started yelling and screaming. I said, 'Look ma'am, I'm not telling you that you have to leave but the service dog can't be in that area. You can have it anywhere but the pool, Jacuzzi,and shower area because it can contaminate the waters," Barkdoll said.

Barkdoll said Gwinnett County Health Department regulations prohibit dogs in the "wet areas" of the spa, although service dogs are permitted in the restaurant and other common areas of the spa. A spokesperson from the Southeastern Americans with Disabilities Act center said "The ADA does not override public health rules that prohibit dogs in swimming pools," 

Waters claims her dog was not close to the hot tub, but Barkdoll said he had received customer complaints that the dog was seen in the shower.
Waters has filed an Americans with Disabilities complaint with the U.S Department of Justice over the incident.


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