Mike Geib is a Gulf War veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He is one of many veterans that utilize the skills and compassion of a service dog to make daily challenges more bearable. Geib was recently denied the companionship of his furry friend by the Lebanon VA Medical Center during a dental appointment, until the intervention of a local news station.
“She senses my anxiety. She senses my blood pressure is getting high. She is there to comfort me. She will climb up on me and put pressure on me just to let me know she is there,” Gieb said of his trusty service dog, named Cookie Dough.
Gieb and Cookie Dough team up to help Gieb battle symptoms of his PTSD while in crowded areas or stressful situations. When he visited the local VA medical center in Lebanon, VA he was surprised to encounter a sign on the door reading:
“For health and safety reasons, no animals beyond this point”
Cookie Dough waited with a friend in the office while Gieb received a routine cleaning. Gieb complied with the policy out of respect for the facility, but claims that “something didn’t feel right.”
When he got home he realized that the anti-animal policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA states that service dogs can not be excluded from examination rooms, with the exemption of Operating Rooms or Burn Units. ABC News Local Affiliate ABC27 heard news of Gieb’s dilemma and contacted the VA, who contacted Gieb less than one hour later.
“I told them that the policy needs to change and I am bringing my service dog with me on my next appointment and it better be changed or I am going to seek other action. ABC27 was kind enough to say it would come and do the story if they turned me away, but thankfully, they got their heads together and did some research on their own and they changed the policy” said Gieb.
Douglas Etter, a spokesman for the Lebanon VA Medical Center, said that the facility would immediately begin reviewing their policy, and they delivered. Gieb says that the facility was apologetic, and immediately reversed their policy.
“It wasn’t that the hospital didn’t want to do it, they just didn’t know the law, and when I went back I was welcome with open arms,” he said.