Doing A Disservice To Service Dogs

, , , , , , | Working | September 29, 2017

(Ever since I was little, I have always shopped at this dollar club with my mom, but because I have very bad social anxiety, with ADHD and autism, I need to have my service dog with me or I can’t go by myself. I walk into the store with my therapy dog and start looking around for some things. I have a handful of items, and an employee comes up to me and speaks to me.)

Employee: “You need to pick up your dog; he isn’t allowed on the floor.”

Me: “Um… that doesn’t make sense. He’s a service dog?”

Employee: “It doesn’t matter; he can’t be on the ground! You need to pick him up. There’s even a sign outside.”

(At this point I’m starting to panic, because I really can’t stand arguing with strangers. I will do it to defend my rights, but not if I’m going to have a panic attack. Now other customers are beginning to stare. I decide to grab my service dog and pick him up. My dog is a Chihuahua-Dachshund mix and is about the size of a fox, around 14 pounds. I feel embarrassed about picking him up, and I am carrying other things aside from him that are somewhat heavy, and some that I would prefer not to get dog hair on, so I have to set the dog down. Out of frustration, I end up setting all my stuff down and walking out to the front of the store. I get mad when I read that the sign indeed says no pets allowed, but that it also says service animals are welcome, and says nothing about needing to carry a service dog around while in the store. Now irritated, I decide to walk right back in, grab the stuff I had left in a basket and continue shopping. I am approached by the employee again, and immediately, defensively, I say that there is a sign in the front of the store, which she demands to see.)

Me: “See? It says, ‘No pets allowed; service animals are welcome.’”

Employee: “It doesn’t mean you can leave your dog on the ground. It could bite someone. The manager made the rule; why not just put your dog in a cart?”

Me: “He is a service dog. He can’t bite; he’s not supposed to. Do you need proof of that? Actually, let me speak to your manager, because dogs aren’t allowed in carts for allergy and hygiene reasons!”

Employee: “Ugh, what a stubborn child; do what you want. The manager isn’t in right now.”

(I was extremely distressed at this point, about to cry, and I couldn’t help but think how un-freaking-believable this lady was being with me. I could hear some people who were staring, talking about how I was being a spoiled brat about my dog not being allowed inside the store, or how I was self-entitled. I was emotionally exhausted, I felt embarrassed, I wanted to cry, and I wanted to go home. I bought my stuff and walked out. On my way home, though, I called the store and spoke to the manager about what happened. He offered his apologies, but that still doesn’t make up for all the embarrassment I suffered at that store.)

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