Service dog education in this world is lacking. There are too many stories of people denying service dogs without knowing the laws. One college student was mortified when her professor refused to let her stay in class if her service dog named Charlie was with her. Charlie is a rescue Pit Bull, and students believe that’s one of the reasons for the professor’s outburst.
Luckily, the student caught the exchange on video, showing that the professor refused to listen to explanations about service dog laws. Now, thousands are demanding that the university fire the professor for this upsetting incident.
Refused During Class
Liza Malinsky is a junior majoring in business at George Washington University. She has never had a problem bringing Charlie to class before, but professor Maria Matta changed that. The first week of classes was online, so Malinsky reached out to Matta, saying that her service dog would be coming to in-person classes, which is allowed by law.
Yet, Matta didn’t address the service dog until Malinsky was already in the classroom. Malinsky didn’t have her paperwork on her, so Matta told her she had to leave because she and the dog were a “liability” to the class. Laws state that service dogs do not need paperwork to be allowed places. Malinsky confirmed the laws with the university before class, but legally, she doesn’t need to mention the dog to professors.
“If I told you I needed glasses or a wheelchair to come to class, or I was using a hearing aid, I can tell you those things if I want to, there’s the voluntary reporting system,” Malinsky said. “But I’m not required by law to tell you ahead of time I’m coming with my medical device.”
After leaving the first class, Malinsky decided to record her interactions with the professor during her next class. Yet again, Matta told Malinsky that she had to leave, and the argument continued until police arrived. The police sided with Malinsky, but Malinsky and Charlie still left class.
Service Dog Handlers Deserve Better
In the videos, Matta seemed convinced that she knew the service dog laws, but she was arguing with a woman who knows those laws like the back of her hand. Malinsky felt discriminated against because of her disability, and no student should have to feel unwelcome in their class.
Malinsky posted an explanation of what happened, followed by a few videos from the incident on Instagram. Later, Matta emailed her to apologize, but she never considered she might be wrong until the videos went public. The university is currently looking into the situation.
“She called Liza and her dog a liability,” said fellow student Jhurney Hairston. “It felt like she was just trying to make it seem like Liza was this aggressive person with this aggressive dog and everyone was in danger, when that just wasn’t the situation at all.”
Luckily, many people are supporting Malinsky. Service dogs are essential for certain people to get through life, so strangers shouldn’t keep trying to take that away from them. Malinsky needs Charlie to manage her severe trauma and anxiety. So, Malinsky’s cheerleading teammates started a petition to get Matta fired for her inexcusable actions.
Watch the Videos Here:
WARNING: Content contains some foul language.