WINTER PARK, Colo. (CBS4)– A U.S. Army veteran from Colorado wants a ski area to grant her and her service dog access to ski lifts so they can join friends for dinner at the restaurant on top of the mountain, but that currently is forbidden.
CarrieAnn Grayson, a former U.S. Army Captain who spent eight years in the military including participating in the 2003 Iraq invasion, has filed an official complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division against Winter Park Resort. The complaint alleges the resort discriminated against her by not allowing her service dog to ride up the resort’s chairlifts.
Grayson told CBS4 the resort offered an alternative method of transportation, to drive her and her service dog Guinness, up the mountain but the resorts wants a five-day notice. She says that is not acceptable.
Grayson says Granby Ski Area already allows her and her service dog to ride the lift. She modeled her request off of other reports across the country that do allow the practice.
She says her dog wears a safety harness at other locations and simply wants Winter Park to allow the dog there as well.
Winter Park officials tell CBS4 they are following common ski resort protocol.
“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,” Steve Hurlbert, spokesperson for Winter Park Resort, said.
“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,” he added in a statement to CBS4.
Under the law, employers and businesses that provide public accommodations are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” to disabled employees or customers.
Grayson’s case could potentially make waves ski industry-wide as officials from the Rocky Mountain ADA, part of the national network of ADA centers, told Sky-Hi News, the local newspaper that first reported the situation, that they have never fielded any questions regarding service dogs riding chairlifts at ski resorts, before this.
Officials from Rocky Mountain ADA told the newspaper they were reaching out to in-house legal experts to get their take on the responsibilities of ski resorts when it comes to accommodating service animals and their owners.