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Hearing Impaired Woman With Service Dog Told To Leave Mall | Pets

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Hearing Impaired Woman With Service Dog Told To Leave Mall
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FREDERICK, Md. (WUSA) -- Denise Portis, who is hearing impaired, took her service dog into the Francis Scott Key Mall, and security asked her to leave. It happened twice in one week, at the same mall that caused an uproar a couple months ago when a security guard there told a nursing mother she had to cover her baby's head, or move.

Mothers in Maryland have the right to nurse in public, and those with disabilities have the right to bring their service dogs with them, wherever they go.

"He said dogs aren't allowed in the mall." Denise says she never before had a problem bringing her service dog Chloe, into the mall.

On Monday, August 9, "a security guard pulled up in his car and stopped and told us we couldn't bring a dog in the mall."

Denise has a cochlear implant but says she still had a hard time hearing the guard. She says she tried to explain the law and proceeded inside to shop. About 30 minutes later, she was approached again by the guard.  He "demanded that we leave."

On Saturday, it happened again in front of her daughter and her husband, Terry.

Terry says, "I was a little frustrated, and it's a little embarrassing, because as we were pulled to the side and talked to, people started gathering around a bit and watching to see what was going on."

Chloe is a trained service dog. She alerts Denise to sounds and helps her pick things up. That's because Denise is not just hearing impaired, she says she has a condition called Meniere's, and can easily lose her balance.

"I think what upset me the most was just that Chloe makes my life so normal," Denise says. "It made me feel disabled all over again."

Denise told mall management what happened.

"We have service dogs here every day. Every day. So, I was really surprised," says mall spokeswoman Christina Steinbrenner. She says they'll provide more education about the Americans with Disabilities Act to its employees and Allied Barton Security Services. "It won't happen again."

Allied Barton Security Services released a statement saying they regret the incident and will ensure its security officers understand the law.

Denise, Chloe, and Terry all met with the General Manager of the mall privately. "He was sincerely regretful that this happened."

She says she'll continue to shop at Francis Scott Key Mall, provided education about service dogs continues. "I don't want this to happen to anyone else, ever again."

Written by Lindsey Mastis
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com

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