City employee, a war veteran with PTSD, is battling over bringing service dog to work

Ronnie Massey and his service dog, Lusa.
Ronnie Massey and his service dog, Lusa. COURTESY OF RONNIE MASSEY

A veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder wants his service dog by his side at work, but he says the North Carolina city he works for won’t let it happen.

Ronnie Massey, a Gulf War veteran who lives in Asheboro, has worked in the City of High Point public services department for 10 years. He has spent the past several months in a tug of war with High Point over his dog, Lusa, who is trained to help him with his PTSD and diabetes.

“She goes to church with me, she goes to the gym with me, she goes every place I go, but work,” Massey told Fox8, noting that the city had concerns because Lusa is part Rottweiler.

“It was going good until they asked me her breed,” he said in an interview with The News & Observer on Wednesday. “Then it all started.”

Massey said the city gave him two options: work in the sewage plant, where the dog must be tied off; or work in an office, where the dog is not allowed.

Neither option works, Massey said, “because she needs to be with me at all times.”

The City of High Point told Fox8 that it cannot legally comment on Massey’s situation, but that it makes reasonable arrangements for service animals.

Saving Grace K9’s, a Lexington nonprofit that paired Massey and Lusa and trained them as a team, expressed disappointment over the matter in a Facebook post.

“These veterans are heroes … and have earned the respect of every American citizen,” the group wrote. “What (Massey) has been put through is not okay and should never be how any of us treat veterans.”

Massey’s troubles are not unique. Another of Saving Grace’s clients was fired several months ago for taking his dog to work at a Mooresville business, the group said.

“This isn’t just about me,” Massey said Wednesday. “It’s about all veterans, now and future.”

Massey said he plans to keep appealing the matter with the city’s human resources department.