NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A local college student claims she was denied service from a Walmart hair salon because she was accomplished by her service dog.
UNCW Sophomore Kirsten DeLuka says she had a scheduled appointment on Wednesday at the Smart Style Hair Salon at the Walmart on Sigmon Road in Wilmington.
Accompanied by her medical alert assistance dog, Apollo, Deluka said she was turned away by the salon because of her service dog.
“After she called her manager the first time, then the manager called back and said I need to leave the store, because no dogs were allowed, because they were expecting a health inspector this week,” said Kirsten DeLuka. “So, if the health inspector came in while I had a dog, they thought they were going to get shut down.”
DeLuka called the police following her interaction with the salon’s staff and says she plans on taking legal action.
“I’m hoping that, like in the future I can just use this experience just to help other people, because I know 2 and a half years ago, I could not stand up for myself, but I want to be able to stand up for all of those other friends of mine that have service dogs. That are constantly denied service, illegally. I want us to feel validated, I don’t want people with disabilities or service dogs to feel less of a human, because they have a disability,” said DeLuka.
Carimar Salon Group, owners of that particular SmartStyle hair salon, released a statement on the incident. It reads in part:
“Nothing is more important to us than our team and communities, and we take great care to create an atmosphere that is comfortable for all of our customers. Our salon welcomes anyone with a well-behaved service animal under the control of the handler at all times. When we learned of this incident, we immediately spoke with our team and believe that with the best of intentions to keep our guests and staff safe, a misunderstanding developed. We apologize and have a proud history of serving customers with service animals. As a disabled veteran owned business, we remain committed to welcoming everyone who comes to our salons.”
-Michael & Tricia Dickey
Carimar Salon Group dba SmartStyle Hair Salons