Job hunting ex-soldier says hirers balk at PTSD service dog

A former Canadian soldier coping with PTSD says she can't find a job because potential employers balk when they meet Lobo, her service dog that needs to be with her at all times.

Kelly Malanik says employers not willing to hire her and service dog Lobo

Former Canadian soldier Kelly Malanik says she can't land a job because employers frown upon her PTSD service dog Lobo. (CBC)

A former Canadian soldier coping with PTSD says she can't find a job because potential employers balk when they meet Lobo, a service dog she needs to be with her at all times.

Kelly Malanik, who began driving large trucks in the military and parlayed the experience into a career as a truck driver, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder about few years ago.

She took a year off work to get help and one month ago received Lobo, a boxer-terrier mix rescued from the streets of Mexico and trained as a service dog, that helps her deal with anxiety and stress.

"He's there to kind of take my mind off of that where I can pet him or I can get down on one knee and have him lick my face or just have that person-dog time where it's just you two and it eases everything."

Malanik is now again looking for a job and believes Lobo wouldn't be a problem sitting in the cab with her while she's driving a truck, but potential employers don't agree, she said.

'Dog's a deal breaker'

She said she heard the same thing after each interview.

"'We'd love to have you,'" she said employers would tell her. "'You'd be a great member of the team, but the dog's a deal breaker.'"

One company that turned Malanik down told CBC News it doesn't prohibit service dogs.

A lawyer for Overnight Expedite told CBC News in an email that he can't discuss the specific circumstances of the case, but said the company does not, as a matter of policy, prohibit the use of service dogs.

Now Malanik is being forced to make a decision she doesn't want to have to make, she said.

"Being unemployed for a month already without any income ... if I can't look after myself how am I supposed to look after him?"

The director of the program that gave Malanik the dog said if she sends Lobo back she will likely require more intense treatment for PTSD.

"We're gonna push her back down the hill there's nothing positive that's going to come out of this," said George Leonard, master trainer for Courageous Companions in Winnipeg.

"It's a general ignorance among the general public that they don't understand what a service dog can do and how it helps and affects someone," he said.


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