He arrived at Astoria’s Aquatic Center Monday afternoon, jumped in and swam around in the waters, using the doggy-paddle technique.
But there was one little problem.
The doggy-paddler was an actual dog – one that looked like a pit bull – but is a licensed service animal for his owner who is hearing impaired.
But a dog is a dog, and pool staff called the police.
At 6:20 p.m. Monday, Astoria Police received a call from Aquatic Center staff because a dog was in the water.
Subject was “refusing to leave,” the complainant said.
Officers arrived but did not make any arrests, researching the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules, which say a licensed service dog is allowed in a public swimming pool to assist their owner.
According to ada.gov, “Under the ADA, state and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.”
It further states “service animals are allowed in swimming pools and enclosures at public recreational bathing facilities. The U.S. (Department of Justice) and ADA define a ‘service animal’ as ‘a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.’”
But Parks Director JP Moss says health always trumps ADA rules, something the Clatsop County Health Department backed him up on. “As an aquatics professional, I know dogs cannot be in a pool. It just doesn’t work.”
The pool had to be cleaned and flushed before it could be reopened today.
“A person and a dog made entry into the pool against the lifeguard’s word,” Moss said. “The man referred to it as a service dog and they just went straight into the recreation pool, which is a smaller pool. At that point we had to clear the pool because you cannot have dogs in it.
“We called the police because the man was not willing to leave the premises.”
According to state code 333-060-0215, animals aren’t permitted in the pool. Under ADA rules they are allowed in the pool area, including the deck and the locker room, but not in the water.
The recreation pool was closed, and as is standard procedure, the pool was super chlorinated and backwashed twice, including one time this morning, which is in regulation with the health department.
“This was a new case for (the health inspector),” Moss said. “She never had a case like this before, but she confirmed that what we did was appropriate.”
This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.