A New Jersey woman says hospital workers threatened to send her dog to the pound.

© Brian Johnston

Woman: NJ hospital threatened to send my service dog to the pound

October 11, 2018 - 12:56 pm

JACKSON, NJ (1010 WINS) -- A woman says workers at an Ocean County hospital threatened to send her trained service dog to the pound.

Nicole Sorchinski had suffered a seizure when she was taken to Ocean Medical Center with her 3-year-old service dog in tow. When she arrived, she says hospital staff made her feel like she was in their dog house.

"[The nurse] said that Nala wasn't welcome here. She pointed at her watch and said, 'you have 15 minutes or I'm calling animal control and she's going to the pound for the night,'" Sorchinski said.

Sorchinski said Nala detects seizures, which she's suffered since a 2015 car accident. She believes the fact that Nala is a pitbull prompted the icy reception.

"They weren't even concerned about my seizure, they were concerned about the dog. I felt unsafe, like if this is how they're going to treat my service dog, how will they treat me in my care?" she said.

Sorchinski told NJ.com that a friend came to pick up Nala, and that she was so distraught that she left without receiving treatment. She added that Nala had previously been welcomed at Centrastate Hospital in Freehold, after a previous seizure.

She believes the hospital violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Service animals must be allowed in patient rooms and anywhere else in the hospital the public and patients are allowed to go. They cannot be excluded on the grounds that staff can provide the same services," the ADA website states.

Hackensack Meridian Health runs Ocean Medical Center, officials released a statement apologizing for Sorchinski's experience.

"We are deeply sorry for the experience expressed by our patient while visiting our emergency department. We are currently reviewing the situation to make certain protocols properly protect our patients and their service animals," a statement provided to NJ Advance Media said.

Sorchinski said she has not responded to calls from hospital officials and is considering legal action.