Sunday, June 22, 2014

Access Dispute at Walgreens

Have you heard about the access dispute at Walgreens?  In addition to the article, I saw a post on Facebook by the man's wife that included a brief video clip she shot with her cell phone.  The basic story, as far as I can make out, is this.

A man with a service dog that helps him with PTSD went to Walgreens.  The service dog was not wearing a service dog vest (which is not required by law but does help cut down on access disputes) because it was hot.  The manager approached and said something about the dog in a way the service dog handler felt was disrespectful.  He also felt the manager should have been more discrete in the way he approached him.

The man responded by becoming verbally abusive, loud, rude, using lots of profanity.  As you might imagine, the manager did not respond well to this.

At some point, the manager said something about the dog not wearing a vest.  He might have said the dog was not allowed in the store without a vest or that he would not sell the dog's owner anything if the dog did not have on a vest.  The owner pointed out, correctly, that the dog is not required to wear any special vest.

Let me say again, legally, no special vest is required for service dogs.  However, without a special vest or something else to indicate a dog is a service dog, people will, quite reasonably, assume a dog is just a pet.  They will be more much likely to approach you and ask if the dog is a service dog or to tell you dogs aren't allowed in the store.  And they may not do so in a discreet fashion.  The law does not require them to be discrete about it.  If you choose not to put a vest on your service dog, you should expect and be prepared for this.

Since the Walgreens in question is in Texas, it probably was very hot outside.  But I really doubt it was too hot for the dog to wear a vest inside Walgreens.  I don't know why the guy didn't just put the vest on the dog right before they went in.  That's what I do.  Isaac doesn't wear his vest in the car.  I put it on him before he gets out of the car, in the parking lot of the store or whatever business we are going to visit.  I take it off as soon as we get back to the car, when we've finished our shopping.

I guess at some point the manager asked for proof that the dog was a service dog, which is illegal.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they are not allowed to ask for that.  The service dog  handler informed the manager of that and then pulled out a fake identification card, purchased from one of those websites that will sell a service dog identification card to anyone with internet access and a credit card.

As far as I can tell, the manager did violate the ADA by refusing to allow the man with the service dog to purchase anything.  However, the guy handled the access dispute really poorly, yelling and cussing and showing a fake identification card and stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kelly,

    I too am a service dog owner and was wondering about your comment regarding "fake service dog identification cards". Since our dogs are not required by any agency to have an identification card, there isn't any agency (leastwise that I know of) that issues "real" identification cards. If there is such an agency, would you.please let me know.

    I did purchase an identification card from an internet retailer for two reasons. First, the card contains instructions on what another person is supposed to do in case my dog and I become separated. Second, the card simplifies the process of clearing TSA security at the airport when my dog flies with me. I have been thanked several times by TSA security personnel for having identification for my dog readily available for their inspection.

    Until something regarding identification is mandated as being required, I believe the internet retailers are helping us out to an extent. Yes, I realize anyone can purchase an ID card and use it fraudulently on a "fake" service dog and in that situation I guess one could refer to the card as a "fake" also. However, for us legitimate users/purchasers, the cards are legitimate and at times necessary. Hope this helps others understand ID cards a little better.


    Theron Johnson
    Marietta, GA