I think we need to step back a moment and reflect on both sides. As I've watched this incident unfold, I felt like it would take this direction. I have some questions for the family that owns the Service Dog.
1. What specific job does this dog fulfill to be of service to this child?
2. Is this dog with this child 24/7? Including church, Dr. appts, tests, hospitizations, etc.
3. Is there ever a time when the dog isn't with the child?
4. Would it have been life threatening for the child to be in the store with the mother as her primary guardian and caretaker?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then as the parent of the handicapped child the mother should have immediately contacted the necessary groups to inform them of the violation. Representatives should have met with the owner to educate him on the laws regarding Service Dogs. I don't know that using the news media to enflame the public over this was the proper way to go.
From a bystanders perspective, if I owned the store and a very capable appearing mother with a handicapped child walked in and had their service dog I might would have requested the same thing he did. He is a small business owner, who can't be operating on a huge profit margin. The losses he accrues from lost business if clothes are tainted will impact him far greater than the Wal-marts of this world. What if I had a severe allergic reaction to the dog hair and had forgotten my epi pen, who's liable for my life-threatening reaction? The store owner? The mother? If I had allergies to animals and knew a long-haired dog had been throughout the store I wouldn't purchase clothing from there. Now we've put another small business owner out of business. Just what this Country needs.
There is more grey here than people see at first. Not all Service dogs perform their services constantly. If the handicapped or their parents, abuse the Service Dog privileges that will make things difficult for the people that TRULY need that Service Dog 24/7. I just can't see the store owner evicting a blind person walking in with a seeing-eye dog.
This wasn't a person trying to shop that needed this dog to assist with sight impairment, wheelchair manuverability or item retrieval. This child appeared to be accompanied by a very capable adult that could have met her needs and kept her safe for the short time that they were in that store. As much as Service dogs are needed and should be tolerated, we shouldn't take advantage of situations just to make a statement.
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