MILTON, Mass. – A Curry College student has filed a lawsuit against the school alleging they intentionally kept her service dog away from her when the dog should be always by her side.
Sophomore Isabella Scott, who is legally blind, doesn’t go anywhere without her seeing eye dog, O’Hara.
“She does everything that someone’s eyes would do, except my eyes have four legs and fur,” said Scott.
Scott, a biology major, alleges the school forced her to put O’Hara in a closet for the duration of her three-hourlong lab classes.
“It’s like taking away a wheelchair from someone who needs a wheelchair – she’s trained medical equipment,” said Scott.
The yellow Labrador has been Scott’s companion since her freshman year of college, guiding her across campus and living in her dorm room with Scott.
Scott says that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a guide dog can go anywhere except sterile environments or places of worship. She says the school’s laboratory doesn’t fall under either category.
“It still makes me very emotional because again, this outcome, there’s a chance she could not be sitting here with me today because of what happened at Curry College,” said Scott.
The lawsuit alleges that, during her studies in winter 2019, Curry College forced Scott to segregate her service animal in class, including putting the dog in a cage or tying up the animal and not being able to sit next to the service dog. Scott says the school also falsely told her the animal was a health code and OSHA violation.
She says it was upsetting and concerning to be away from her service dog because, without O’Hara, Scott can’t navigate the room.
“How am I supposed to get to her in the middle of an emergency where there’s chaos and get out safely?” said Scott. “How are we supposed to get out safely as a team? They took away her purpose, her entire, the entire reason I have her is for her to be my eyes and they didn’t allow that to happen.”
In a statement, Curry College told WFXT:
“Any allegations of mistreatment of a support animal on our campus are unfounded and inaccurate; in both policy and in fact, Curry College is committed to partnering collaboratively with students requiring the important service and emotional support these animals provide.”
In the meantime, Scott says she will continue living and taking classes on campus.
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