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Veteran's dilemma: Service dog issues at work

Posted at 4:01 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 12:21:31-05

APPLETON, WI -- A Kaukauna veteran suffering from PTSD says his employer is not allowing him to bring his new service dog to work.

The news is sparking outrage with the organization that trained the dog.
 
Shaun Kettner, who served as a Marine in Iraq, says his PTSD can make daily life feel impossible.
 
But now, stress over the situation with his employer--L & S Electric, in Appleton--is bringing his anxiety to the forefront again.
 
Kettner says his return to civilian life in 2012 has been challenging.
 
"[I have] flashbacks, nightmares, sweats, a lot of anxiety," describes Kettner.
 
Through "Operation K9", Shaun and his wife, Rebecca, say they finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Just a few weeks ago, the Kettners were finally united with Sig--a dutch shepherd, specially trained to aid Shaun with his PTSD.
 
"Since he's been home, I get more sleep," says Shaun, smiling, "anxiety at the home has been down. I still have some, it's not a fix-all, but he's a tool in my tool box."
 
"Sig did save Shaun's life," adds Rebecca. "That was the final piece to our puzzle to make things the new normal."
 
Shaun says prepping for sig at work began in December, long after he says he notified the company.
 
"[I] brought in a kennel for him," says Shaun. "This way, he's got a nice, clean place to lay."
 
But Shaun says he has yet to bring sig to work, claiming the company is making it difficult to accommodate him.
 
"Today I did my paperwork for individual unemployability through the VA," adds Shaun, "because they're just making it hard for me to go to work."
 
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses must make "reasonable accommodations," including allowing employees to bring a trained service animal to work.
 
Operation K9 leaders say Sig fits that definition, and that they've been working to make him fit at the company for months.
 
"I did ask Mr. Kettner quite a while ago what did his job entail, what did he do, what's the noise, the dirt, the volume of people coming through," says Operation K9 president Joan Moss, "so this was already gone through since July of [20]15."
 
But for now, Shaun and Rebecca are just hoping their "new normal" includes a place at work for Sig.
 
"I know he's not going to do my job for me, but he's got a job specifically designed for me," says Kettner, "and to help me stay more focused on my tasks that I need to do." 
 
Operation K9 leaders say the average cost of training alone for a veteran's service dog, like Sig, is $10,000-$12,000.
 
NBC26 reached out to L & S Electric in response to the Kettner's claims. Their attorney tells us they've been working to accommodate Sig, and provided us with this official statement:
 
 
 
"Shawn Kettner is an employee of L & S Electric, Inc.  He is currently on two days of vacation requested by him.  I am working on a plan to accommodate Shawn’s service dog in the non-public area of L & S’s manufacturing and motor repair facility in Appleton.  I believe the accommodation plan will be accomplished with provisions to protect the service dog and maintain the orderly operation of the manufacturing and repair functions in the building."
 
William Hess
General Counsel
L & S Electric