5 On Your Side

Service dog-in-training denied access to N.C. State bus

Posted November 23, 2010

— Theresa Buchheit has raised and trained service dogs with her family for 17 years, so she was surprised when her dog-in-training, Jarvis, was denied access to a Wolfline campus bus at North Carolina State University.

“I explained what Jarvis does and (that) I was training him to be a future assistance dog,” Buchheit said. “(The bus driver) said that only dogs that lead a person could come on to the bus, and since I didn't have a disability and wasn't blind, Jarvis wouldn't be allowed on.”

State law requires access to public places for service animals and those in training, as long as they are officially identified with a harness or cape like the one Jarvis wears.

Buchheit said she called a Wolfline supervisor but got nowhere. She then sent an e-mail to Wolfline Transit Manager Kim Paylor explaining that she was denied access and that Jarvis had a vest, tag and tattoo and that she had an ID card.

After no response, Buchheit called again. A week passed with no response, so she sent a second e-mail. That e-mail was ignored as well, so Buchheit called WRAL’s 5 on Your Side.

Buchheit trains Jarvis, a 1-year-old Labrador Retriever, through a group called Canine Companions for Independence. If he does well, Jarvis will be partnered with a child or adult who has a disability.

“Jarvis is a pretty mellow dog. He’s pretty willing to work,” she said.

Socialization is a critical part of the training, so Buchheit takes Jarvis just about everywhere she goes, including classes at N.C. State.

“It’s very important that they start early getting exposures,” she said.

Service dog-in-training, Jarvis, and trainer Theresa Buchheit Service dog-in-training denied bus access

For months, Buchheit and Jarvis took the Wolfline bus between her job at the veterinary school and the main campus. That changed last month when a driver would not allow Jarvis to ride.

Brian O'Sullivan, assistant director of transportation at N.C. State, said this situation shouldn’t have happened and won’t happen again.

“I can't explain it in any other terms than that – (a) misunderstanding (and) lack of education,” he said. “(Service dogs) always have been and they will certainly continue to be allowed on Wolfline buses, and we'll get that message across.”

Buchheit said she is pleased with the outcome and that “we’ve gotten a good educational opportunity here.”


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  • allsmileshere Nov 29, 2010

    WOW! had to get WRAL to call, NC State wouldn't respond to the ordinary Joe or should I say Jane?!

  • rjackson1507 Nov 26, 2010

    Our daughter's boyfriend has a service dog and was denied access to a service station in Fayetteville. The clerk was told this was a service dog and was shown all needed documents to prove his case. The clerk called the police and then ordered him to leave the building. To the credit of the police he was very happy to correct the clerk. But really. Call the police????????

  • oustobama12 Nov 24, 2010

    Wow. Nice whack at the drivers with your club, Mugu. Maybe if you start now you can have a fire started by rubbing two sticks together before Thanksgiving.

    I am glad the situation was resolved. I commend the lady for contacting WRAL and for her positive outlook. I must confess that I would not have sounded so polite.

  • Willie_11 Nov 24, 2010

    Cows are sacred at Moo. U but dogs are not, obviously.

  • SaveEnergyMan Nov 24, 2010

    Maybe this supervisor will be the first victim of the state budget cuts coming down the line. One can only hope that the axe falls on those who deserve it, rather than those who work hard.

  • Stormy13 Nov 24, 2010

    You people are quick to jump on State employees! Remember, when emails come in they go to upper management, not the ones that actually do all the work. Supervisors/Managers are the ones that seem to not care, I see it everyday. I am saying this as a State employee that does care about my job and that it's done properly, even though we have not had a pay increase in over four years now. Private sector isn't much better, when was the last time you had good customer service?

  • Phrostbite Nov 24, 2010

    I'd be concerned with the way they ignored her until WRAL got involved. The University needs to address that.

  • Fishman Nov 24, 2010

    Do not think this is isolated to State Government. The City of Raleigh is no better.

  • etshoney Nov 24, 2010

    State employees not responding until the local news gets involved??? I know some employees work very hard but most could care less and couldn't hold a job in the private sector because expectations are so much higher.If I had the attitude I get from state employees I would be fired. It's sad but true. I've met good and bad but mostly bad!

  • timbo10.0 Nov 24, 2010

    A state employee not responding to emails? There's a surprise.