Representative Hurley and dog kicked out of Roane County Courthouse

JESSA LEWIS-6 News Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) - Roane County officials are looking to clarify the rules after State Representative Julia Hurley was kicked out of the Roane County courthouse for taking her dog in with her.

Hurley claims the eleven pound Chinese crested is a service animal, which are permitted in public places according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She had the small dog on a leash when the animal was spotted by County Executive Ron Woody last week.

Hurley says she simply didn't know dogs weren't allowed in the courthouse.

She says she's upset because of the way she was treated and the way the situation was handled, not because she and her service dog were told to leave.

"I wasn't being attacked for my dog being a service dog. I was attacked for having a dog in the courthouse. I was not requested respectfully to remove the dog, I was not spoken to at all. I was snapped at and yelled at across the courthouse," said Rep. Hurley.

That's not how Woody says things unfolded.

"As I went out of my office, I saw a little dog walking down the hall, and of course it was on a leash, so I had asked security, you know we need to get the dogs out of the courthouse. That was basically the extent of it," said Woody.

Hurley says the dog was already registered as a service dog when she adopted it, and that the animal serves as a companion. "That's why I got her, was to be my companion. I mean if I wanted to take her, if I put on her little service sweater and took her to the hospital for cancer patients, then she would be a service dog, but she's my dog. She's my companion."

Hurley says the confrontation was to make a point with county employees. "If he has a problem with his employees, he needs to speak with his employees and not use me as an example to get to them."

The courthouse security committee decided at a meeting Monday that because the sheriff's office runs security in the building, they would have to decide what kinds of animals are acceptable in the courthouse.

According to the committee, the next step will be for the Sheriff's Office to determine what the policy is on animals in the courthouse, and post signs alerting the public of the policy.

The U.S. Department of Justice clearly outlines the rules for service animals in places of business.