Sunday Soapbox–Fake Service Animals

The story below was sent to Publix by a woman who was upset because she was confronted about having her dog in the store.   The letter was posted on a great Facebook site, “Entitlement Is Still A Disease“, which I highly urge you to check out.  It features stories from whiny customers who complain about the most ludicrous things and the responses from the FB members is hilarious.
    So here’s the deal about service animals–Federal law states that they can be brought into any establishment (and even on planes.)  The owner is not required to produce a license, sweater, etc. to prove it is a trained service animal, as apparently it was felt that it would be discriminating against people with disabilities if they had to go out and get a license for their animal.   I think a simpler solution would just be for the licenses to be free and have the government pick up the cost but I guess we’d all have to pay another nickel in taxes for that.
     As a retailer, you are only allowed to ask 2 questions if someone brings a service animal, which is limited to dogs and miniature horses, by the way.  (I have yet to see someone walk in with a miniature horse, but I suppose they’re out there.) You can ask them  1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
    I’m sure you see the problem already.   All someone has to do is answer “Yes” to question 1, and make up something like “emotional support” for question 2.   A great deal of people have learned this and now use this legal loophole to bring their non-service dogs wherever they want.   I have seen all sizes and breeds of dogs claimed to be service animals by their pathetic owners who somehow think it’s necessary and appropriate to bring their dog into a store that has food and other health-related items in it.  I even had one lady bring a large mutt in who proceeded to take a dump on our carpeting and then left with the dog without even offering to pick it up.
    I love my dog to death and take her with me when I can, to Petsmart for example, but would never even consider bringing her into a grocery store, drug store or a restaurant.  (Yes, I saw someone bring a dog into Jack In The Box one time.)  The fact that these people are using a law designed to aid those with disabilities is contemptible and the law really needs to get fixed.  I have even seen small dogs carried onto planes–it’s bad enough to have to listen to a screaming child on a long flight, but a barking dog is even worse because the animal should SIMPLY NOT BE THERE.
    So please people, if you absolutely must have your dog with you while you stop in for your hemorrhoid cream, either leave the dog in the car BRIEFLY with the windows rolled down or tie him up outside.   Our customers will appreciate not having dog hairs on the box of Band-Aids they buy, and our employees will thank you for not making us clean up after them and having to explain to other customers that there’s nothing we can do after they complain about what an idiot you are.   And if you are disabled and do have a legit service dog, I think they are truly awesome, but please get them a sweater or something so you don’t get hassled regularly.
 The law about service animals can be found here. 

Unfortunately, my Publix story is regarding poor customer service. I was very rudely confronted by the assistant store manager in Okeechobee, FL while I was shopping with my 5 lb dog in my arms which I never put down. With a cart full of groceries he told me to leave as the dog was not allowed in the store and of course it is 90+ degrees in FL and I shop with the dog at Publix regularly as well as other local stores. The assistant manager did not introduce himself, there was no excuse me, please or thank you, no polite manner in any way way, shape of form. My mother worked in the Publix deli and just retired after 10 years and I know that Publix promotes its customer service so hopefully this guy gets sent back to training as it is usually not the message but the delivery that causes the problem. In a small town like Okeechobee, good manners are essential to business and customer relations which someone at management level should know, execute and be a role model for other employees. Offending customers is not good business practice in any industry!