GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman is without a driver’s license after the Division of Motor Vehicles office in Golden refused to allow her to take her dog along on a driving test for renewal.

Miriam Dunnan insists it’s a service dog, but the state agency doesn’t feel it fits the requirements. Yoda is a French bulldog and Dunnan’s constant companion. She says the dog performs a service by barking when she needs to take her medicine. But when she asked to take Yoda in the car on her driver’s test she was told she couldn’t.

Miriam Dunnan (credit: CBS)

Miriam Dunnan (credit: CBS)

“The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, I’m quite familiar with; that is not an exemption, they should not keep me from taking my repeat driver’s test — in my car — with my service dog,” Dunnan said.

Colin Waters, a spokesman for the Division of Motor Vehicles, told CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger a worker asked Dunnan the only two questions allowed under the law — “Is the dog a service animal required by a disability?” And, “What task has it been trained to perform?”


There is good reason for skepticism. Online CBS4 showed numerous websites that offer to help dog owners “avoid hassles and annoying questions” and “gain access to public places.” To do that readers are invited to simply fill out the form, pay a fee and receive get a service dog certificate.” The certificates have no legal standing.

There is concern about all this at places like Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood which extensively trains the animals to help the disabled.

“This is really very frustrating mostly because a dog that isn’t trained for service hasn’t been socialized properly to be in crowded and intense public environments,” Jane Boone with Freedom Service Dogs said.

At Freedom Service Dogs the animals undergo months and months of training before earning the title and placement as a service dog.

Yoda (credit: CBS)

Yoda (credit: CBS)

As for Dunnan, she returned to the DMV with her dog in a crate. She still wasn’t allowed to take the dog along on a driving test, so now she’s not driving at all.

LINK: Freedom Service Dogs

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.


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