KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The mother of a disabled Knoxville woman was shocked when she got a big bill from a rental car company to clean up dog hair left in the car by her daughter’s service dog. WATE 6 On Your Side discovered the $160 fee to clean up dog hair should not have been charged.

The Americans With Disabilities Act has a section regarding service dogs. Titles II and III define the animal as being trained specifically to do work or perform a task for a person with a disability. According to the act, the dog is allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go, and that includes cars.

Lisa Gordon (left), Peggy Gordon (right) and Sadie.

Service dog Sadie, a boxer and lab mix, has been at Lisa Gordon’s side for the last six years. Lisa has a dibilitating seizure disorder and PTSD. Sadie is trained to specifially be a calming influence if Lisa has a seizure.

Peggy Gordon, Lisa’s mother, needed a rental car last month while her car was being repaired. Her insurance company directed her to Enterprise Rental Car’s office in Alcoa. Lisa and her service dog rode in the car as Lisa’s mother rented the vehicle for about three weeks.

Within an hour after dropping off the car earlier this month, Peggy got a call from Enterprise.

“They said the car is loaded with dog hair and a dog bowl,” said Peggy.

A $160 fee for cleaning up dog hair was charged to her credit card. Gordon says they used a shop vac to clean up Sadie’s hair before turning in the rental car.

“I just was shocked because we had to pay extra for a service dog. She’s not a pet. She’s a service dog,” said Peggy.

“When I heard about the bill, I didn’t think there would be a problem at all. I called Enterprise, spoke with the assistant manager,” said Lisa.

Lisa says she faxed a letter from her primary care physician stating that Sadie is a service dog. She also sent a copy of a card to Enterprise which includes details about service dogs under the ADA. It did no good. Peggy was still going to be charged for dog hair left on the car’s seats and floor.

“I thought perhaps there is a misunderstanding, let me talk with the manager, he’ll take it right off,” said Lisa. “He hung up on me.”

Peggy says she received no instructions from Enterprise about the consequences of having a dog in the car. She was told about filling up the car with gas and that she couldn’t smoke in the car.

However, Peggy says she didn’t mention Sadie would be riding in the vehicle because it didn’t cross her mind.

WATE 6 On Your Side contacted the corporate office for Enterprise, mentioning Titles II and III of the ADA, defining a service dog. Enterprise outlined an exclusion under the act stating “if a business normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damagae caused by himself or herself for his or her service animal.”

“The service animal just shed its fur. That’s not damage,” said Katherine Moore with the Knoxville Disability Resource Center. “Let’s say if the seats were all torn up. If the dog chewed the seat up, that would be damage.”

Sadie only shed her fur. Within a day after our inquiry, the issue was resolved. The Gordons are getting their $160 back with a company apology.

“I’m happy and I think it’s fair,” said Peggy.

Lisa says if she’s ever in a rental car again with Sadie, she’ll mention immediately her service dog will be in the car with her.

Enterprise told WATE 6 On Your Side the Gordons rejected the company’s first offer for a refund for several weeks ago, but the Gordons categorically deny they were offered a refund until last Friday. The company also says it’s helpful for customers to let the rental service representative know in advance that a service dog will be occupying the car.

Enterprise says it’s equally as important to update the service representative about the service dog when the vehicle is returned.