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Press Release

U.S. Attorney’s Office Resolves Disability Discrimination Investigation of Bark Bark Wag Dog Rescue

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

DETROIT –The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan resolved its investigation of Bark Bark Wag, a local dog rescue organization based in Livonia, Michigan. The complainant alleged that her adoption application was denied based on stereotypes concerning her use of a wheelchair, leaving her feeling “dehumanized.” The settlement agreement between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Bark Bark Wag requires the dog rescue to fully comply with the non-discrimination requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

The ADA protects the rights of all individuals, regardless of disability, to fully and equally enjoy the benefits and services offered by places of public accommodation, which includes dog rescues. The settlement agreement emphasizes the organization’s commitment to ADA compliance going forward and requires Bark Bark Wag to adopt ADA policies to ensure that the adoption process does not improperly screen out or scrutinize individuals who have disabilities. Under the terms of the settlement, Bark Bark Wag must train its volunteers on ADA policies and practices and report any future complaints from individuals who have disabilities to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Bark Bark Wag must also provide a copy of its non-discrimination policy to all current and future rescue organizations with which it is affiliated.

“All too often, discrimination comes in the form of implicit bias, stereotypes, or assumptions. Here, an individual was judged not by her actual ability to safely care for the pets she hoped to adopt, but by her perceived inability to do so,” U.S. Attorney Ison said. “My office will continue to enforce the civil rights of our all of our citizens, including those who have disabilities.”

The investigation was led by AUSA Michael El-Zein of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, a member of the Civil Rights Unit. The full and fair enforcement of the ADA is a priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. The Civil Rights Unit was established in 2010 with the mission of prioritizing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, including a copy of the agreement, please visit

Individuals who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or have experienced a civil rights violation can submit a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office by email at or by phone at (313) 226-9151. Complaints can also be submitted to the Civil Rights Division through its complaint portal.

Updated March 7, 2023

Civil Rights