911 Call Shows Paralyzed System When Service Dog Needed Help

Nancy Alfonso isn’t going out much anymore. It’s been two weeks since her service dog died at a Doral restaurant. Friday, the county released 911 calls from the day of the dog’s death when rescue workers offered no assistance.

Alfonso’s dog, Kiro, became ill at the restaurant. A Miami-Dade Police officer inside the restaurant offered no help, according to Alfonso. It was at that point the manager of the restaurant decided to call 911.

Manager: One of the dogs right now is having a heart attack or something
Operator: The dog is having a heart attack or the person is having a heart attack?
Manager: The dog
Operator: Hold on just a minute okay?

The call was then transferred to another dispatcher.

Police Dispatcher: Dade County Police and Fire, Officer Jones
Manager: I guess 911 sent me to you…one of the service dogs is having a heart attack.
Police Dispatcher: 311 is closed today. They are going to have to contact the local veterinarian for that.
Manager: Wow.
Police Dispatcher: Let me check with the fire department one moment.
Fire Department: Communications, Hooper.
Police Dispatcher: He’s saying they have a service dog there that’s having a heart attack. 311 is closed today for animal services. What do we do with that?
Fire Department: Someone is going to have to take them to an emergency clinic. We don’t respond to that.

Police said the officer did use his own radio to call fire for help, but Alfonso found a ride to a local veterinarian and the call was cancelled.

Alfonso said it took about 45 minutes before they got the dog to a vet and he didn’t survive. A supervisor at 311 said they might have been able to do something, but since the hours have been eliminated on Sunday, there was nothing they could do.

Disability law expert Sharon Langer said she wants everyone to sit down and come up with protocols to handle this gray area.

“I think that it’s a story that anybody who cares about a person with a disability or an animal is heartbroken,” Langer said. “And we seemed to be, as a community, paralyzed at that moment to help them, her or the animal.”

At the next City of Doral commission meeting, they are going to address this incident. The mayor of Doral said he wants to see what can be put into the law here to address a service animal in this kind of situation.

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