Veteran says Denver hotel turned him away because of service dog

DENVER -- An Iraq war veteran says he'll always remember his recent visit to Denver, but for all the wrong reasons.

Shawn Garcia is traveling from California to Indiana. He stopped in Denver this weekend and was planning to spend the night at the Renaissance Downtown Denver Hotel.

However, that suddenly changed during check-in.

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Garcia says he checked in around midnight with his service dog "Dogmeat" sitting by his side.

"The reservations were going smoothly at first," Garcia said.

Garcia says things took a turn when he got ready to walk away from the front desk. He says that's when the hotel clerk noticed his service dog.

"They said hey, that dog has to have a tag. I said no he doesn't," said GArcia

Garcia says the hotel demanded documentation proving Dogmeat was a service dog. However, the FOX31 Problem Solvers confirmed paperwork is not required under law.

"It was to the point where I said look, she's my medical equipment," said Garcia, who struggles with PTSD, arthritis, and balance issues.

The Iraq war veteran and Marine says his plea fell on deaf ears.

"They just blew me off, kicked us all out," said Garcia. "It was ridiculous. We finally found a place at three in the morning."

Garcia was livid so he contacted the Problem Solvers.

"I've been discriminated against so many times for having a service dog and it`s not even funny and it's just time that someone has to learn the hard way," he said.

The hotel admits its staff made a mistake, sending FOX31 this statement on behalf of Renaissance Denver Downtown at City Center Hotel General Manager Michael Damion:

"We apologize that our team's interaction with Mr. Garcia was not in accordance with our policies or values. We are re-addressing the issue with our employees, to reinforce that it is not permitted to ask for paperwork regarding a service animal. We have reached out to Mr. Garcia directly to apologize for how the situation was handled. The Renaissance Denver Downtown at City Center Hotel supports our veterans and welcomes individuals with service animals. We regret that our interaction with Mr. Garcia didn't better reflect these sentiments and we are committed to correcting this issue."

However, Garcia says it's too little, too late.

"It's ridiculous the kind of things I'd never dreamed would happen when I got prescribed a service dog from the VA. It`s crazy," he said.

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