A U.S. Army veteran filed an official complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division against Winter Park Resort alleging the resort discriminated against her by not allowing her service dog to ride up the resort’s chairlifts.
VailDaily reports Winter Park offered former U.S. Army Captain, CarrieAnn Grayson, alternative transportation of her service dog Guinness by driving her and her dog to the top of the mountain but the resort would require five-day notice. Grayson says that is discrimination and is not acceptable. Grayson originally requested to ride the lift with Guinness so they could meet up with friends for dinner at the mountaintop restaurant:
“I initially contacted Winter Park in June asking if I could take my service dog on the chairlift. They said they don’t allow dogs. I volunteered to come to Winter Park to talk about different options, to talk about how it can work, to talk about different accommodations.”Winter Park Resort explained their response was out of concern for safety. Steve Hurlbert, spokesperson for Winter Park Resort, had this to say:
“For a number of safety reasons that involve the animal, the handler and other guests, we cannot allow people to bring their service animals on the lifts. We suggested alternatives. We offered free transportation from the base to Sunspot for her and her dog. We wanted a heads-up with some advance notice; unfortunately that was unacceptable to her.”
Grayson’s case has the potential to set precedent as officials from the Rocky Mountain ADA, part of the national network of ADA centers, have never fielded any questions regarding service dogs riding chairlifts at ski resorts. A Rocky Mountain ADA spokesperson was unable to comment saying only:
“We get all kinds of calls for service animal information, but this is the first one about animals on ski lifts.”The Rocky Mountain ADA is reaching out to in-house legal experts to inform their interpretation on the responsibilities of ski resorts when it comes to accommodating service animals and their owners. We will be sure to update this story as the developments come in.