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New Castle man sues homeless shelter, says turned away because of seeing eye dog

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Friday, June 28, 2013, 3:03 p.m.

A New Castle homeless shelter turned away a blind man because they couldn't accommodate his seeing eye dog, according to a federal discrimination lawsuit filed Friday.

Kenneth DeFiore, age not available, filed the lawsuit against the City Rescue Mission of New Castle, a faith-based shelter that provides temporary lodging for the homeless, and James Henderson, a program manager at the shelter. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder filed a similar lawsuit later in the day against the shelter and Henderson on DeFiore's behalf.

According to the complaint, DeFiore — diagnosed with blindness in 2006 — became homeless in November 2011 when his landlord evicted him from his apartment. A month later, he called City Rescue Mission to request a bed, but Henderson told him they would not accept him as long as “Gabby,” DeFiore's service-trained Labrador retriever, accompanied him.

Records from the shelter show there was at least one vacant bed available at the shelter every night between Dec. 1 and Dec. 22, the lawsuit says.

Henderson did not return a call seeking comment.

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