Veteran with PTSD says she faces job discrimination over service dog
Published Tuesday, November 26, 2013 9:27PM EST
A former Canadian soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder says potential employers have been turning her away because of her service dog, Lobo.
Lobo has been by Kelly Malanik’s side at all times for nearly a month, helping her with stress and anxiety.
“He comforts me if I have anxieties about going out shopping, or about going out in public or if I need to go somewhere to get groceries,” Malanik said.
But the former soldier, who is currently looking for a job, says gets the same reaction from potential employers when they find about Lobo: “’We’re sorry, you don’t meet our qualifications,’” she says employers tell her. “Or, ‘We’re sorry, we’d love to have you as a team member but the dog is a deal breaker.’”
Lobo was rescued off the streets of Mexico and trained to become a service dog through Courageous Companions -- a program that pairs dogs with military personnel who need healing.
“People need to understand the many faces of a service dog -- it’s not just simply for the blind,” said dog trainer George Leonard.
Malanik alleges she was turned away by a shipping company because of Lobo. “It’s disappointing, it hurts, because he’s a part of me,” she said.
She says she is now contemplating sending Lobo back to Courageous Companions after facing discrimination.
“We’ll get the dog back with us, let us train with it, and let her sort out a job, then we can match that dog to try and get back into her life,” Leonard said.
By sharing her story, Malanik hopes to encourage companies to be more open-minded about service dogs.
“The dogs are there to be our pets, the dogs are there to work for us and with us, and to help ease our anxieties and to make us better people,” she said.
With a report from CTV’s Veronica Jubinville