NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- The family of a Wilmington special needs child is angry and disappointed.
While shopping in Castle Hayne, the family was ordered out of the Western Shop. The problem? The owner would not allow their service dog, Ellie, inside. Even after showing the credentials, the family says they were forcibly told to leave.
Five-year-old Amanda Invancevich and her service dog, Ellie, are best friends.
"In the two years we've had Ellie, or almost two years, Amanda has blossomed," Amanda's mother Susan Ivancevich said. "She does so many things that she didn't used to do. She is now independently mobile."
Amanda had a stroke before she was born, damaging the left side of her brain. At six months old, Amanda was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and then she started having as many as 150 seizures a day. As a result the left side of her brain was removed and, for the most part, stopped the seizures.
"I look at Amanda every day, and I don't see a disabled child. I see Amanda," her mom said.
The Ivancevich family counts on Ellie to be both a protector and a companion.
"They're really close," Amanda's sister Katie said. "Ellie has helped the whole family with everything."
The Western Shop on Castle Hayne Road didn't see Ellie as a companion but as a nuisance.
"People don't want to put clothes on that the dog brushed up against, and they will. The dog smelled," owner Robert Bryant told us when we confronted him about the incident.
Although certified service dogs are legally allowed wherever humans can go, the owner of the store admits he asked the Ivancevich family and the dog to leave.
"Laws that I've got? I don't even have to admit the woman in to my store," the Bryant said. "That's my law."
Susan Ivancevich said she reached for Ellie's credentials, but Bryant refused.
"He said he didn't care what the law was," she said, "that it was his law and his store and get the 'blank' dog out of the there."
Susan, her daughters and a friend left the store. That's when the sadness set in.
"To be treated that disrespectfully by someone that you have a special needs kid," Invancevich said through tears. "He's gonna run you out of a store? I find it so frustrating that he can't see the amazing gifts that God gives you in these kids."
Ivancevich says if she does take any legal action, any money gained will be given to a charity that helps special needs children.