The owners of a Michigan motel that turned away a family because of their young boy’s service dog may now be facing criminal charges.
Arlen Facey had made reservations for what was to be a fun family trip to Bear Lake, Michigan more than a month in advance. But when he, his wife, their 8-year old disabled son, and his service dog arrived, they were turned away at the door.
The Facey’s adopted 8-year old David when he was just 2-and-a-half years old. Born to a drug-addicted mother, David spent the first year of his life being weaned from the drugs in his tiny body. Eventually, a tracheotomy was performed to assist with his breathing.
While David is much healthier today, the Facey’s say it’s his service dog, Venture, that really makes a difference. After a year of training to become a service dog, Venture detects when David isn’t getting enough oxygen, alerts the family, and retrieves an oxygen tank for him.
On July 28, the family arrived at the Bella Vista Motel. Upon check-in, they were told by motel owner, Barb DeWildt that the motel had a “no pets” policy and that Venture could not stay.
“When she said we couldn’t stay there, I advised her it was breaking a couple laws and violating civil rights for our son — the dog is for him,” Arlen Facey told WZZM.
He then called Manistee County Police who did not come to the motel to respond to the call. Thankfully, the family who were visiting for an event with David’s youth hockey team for disabled children, were able to stay at a friend’s cabin.
A few days after being turned away from Bella Vista, police finally returned the Facey’s call and confirmed that, after doing some research, it was a criminal matter.
Last year, Michigan lawmakers passed a bill making it a misdemeanor for businesses to refuse entry to a service dog. This local law is in addition to the federally mandated Americans with Disabilities Act which grants access to service dogs anywhere that their handlers are permitted.
The Manistee County Sheriff’s Department investigated the matter and sent their finding to the prosecutors officer for possible charges against the owners of the motel.
The Facey’s say they don’t want to bring trouble to the owners of the motel, but hope the incident helps bring awareness and education of the rights of service dogs.