Assistance dog fight: 'It's been a rough ride'

A San Marcos woman contacted 10News after her application to get an assistance tag for a service dog was denied. She now has a tag on her dog.

"Chloe, this is your tag; you've earned a tag," said Kimberly Ryan.

It may not seem like much, but the tag means everything to Ryan, who put it on her assistance dog, Chloe.

"It’s beautiful” said Ryan.

"She's been such a blessing in helping me recognize my disease and retrieve medication for me," said Ryan.

Chloe helps Ryan with disabilities you may not see on the outside.

"Hidden disabilities and fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue mitigate the use for a service dog," said Ryan.

Ryan had another dog named Hayleigh for 13 years. Hayleigh had a tag and when she died, Ryan adopted Chloe and applied to get a new tag, but that was last June and the application was denied.

As 10News first reported, Ryan received a rejection letter explaining assistance dog tags are authorized for guide dogs, signal dogs and service dogs - not for dogs that provide comfort, support or therapy.

"It's been a rough ride" said Ryan.

So she decided to file a lawsuit against the city.

"I had done the Hayleigh Project helping people with disabilities and their civil rights and now I'm trying to represent myself and my service dog," said Ryan.

Daniel DeSousa with the San Diego County of Animal Services said that according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, owners do not need tags or vests.

"All they have to say is that the animal is trained and describe the task that animal is trained to perform," said DeSousa.

But since Ryan has hidden disabilities, she wanted to be sure Chloe had a tag anyway.

Both Ryan and DeSousa agree that too many people are taking advantage of the system.

"And so the people who are abusing it are hurting it for people like me and the use of a service dog," said Ryan.

But before Ryan's fight continued through the legal system, she received a letter.

It was official: application approved.

"Yay! You're official," said Ryan.

No further legal action needed.

"Oh my gosh, I'm still going to cry about this," she said.

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