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PTSD service dogs kicked out of Dartmouth ER

11/16/2013 01:09 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
Two Afghanistan war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are upset after a doctor told them their service dogs weren't welcome in the Dartmouth General Hospital's emergency room.

When John Leight is feeling overwhelmed by the symptoms of PTSD, he said his service dog Gypsy moves in.

His wife Keri Snow gets the same help from her service dog Littlefoot.

Their PTSD stems from time serving in Afghanistan at the air base in Kandahar.

“We lost a lot of friends, comrades, people we worked with very closely. It was tough,” said Snow.

Leight went to the Dartmouth General Hospital on Thursday night with pain and numbness in his arms.

It was their first public outing with the animals.

Leight said without Gypsy he would have been too anxious to visit a hospital.

“Had I not had her, I would never have gone. I would have laid in bed and cried with the pain,” he said.

But six hours into their visit, they claim a doctor told them their dogs weren't welcome.

“The doctor said that he had been in the military, and so he understood what they were going through. But the dogs had to go,” said Snow.

Snow said she blacked out because of a panic attack and drove home.

“There was something about health and safety, or infectious disease or something like that. I can’t remember exactly and that's when I collapsed,” she said.

Capital Health approves mobility dogs

Leight stayed behind with Gypsy until he was discharged.

“The doctor compared that had they been mobility dogs, they would have been able to stay. So in my mind, that doctor didn't see my injury,” he said.

The policy of the Capital District Health Authority allows service animals to go anywhere in hospitals the public has access to.

A spokesperson is looking into the incident to find out more details.

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