Dillard's Boots Disabled Iraq War Vet And His Service Dog, Too

Dillard’s ejected disabled Army Staff Sergeant J. Alex Gozalez and his service dog Mason for violating the store’s no animals policy. The store manager did not believe that Gonzalez is disabled because he is neither blind nor deaf. Gonzalez uses Mason—who wore a vest reading: “SERVICE DOG – DO NOT PET”—to help keep his balance.

When Gonzalez explained that he is disabled and was training Mason to help him, the manager responded that dogs were not allowed in the store and that Gonzalez would be escorted out, Gonzalez said.

The manager was “very firm, and I felt embarrassed and ashamed,” Gonzalez said. “I felt like I was disrespected.”

Dillard’s officials say Gonzalez never identified himself as disabled and only indicated that he was training the dog.

“On a daily basis Dillard’s welcomes customers with service dogs into many of its stores across the country,” Johnson said.

“If a person wishes to seek to train a dog in a Dillard’s department store, the respective store manager needs to be contacted so that the best time can be established for both parties.”

After leaving the store, Gonzalez contacted Hurst police. Officers talked with Gonzalez and the manager and determined that the dispute was a civil matter. Police say there was a report of the dog causing a disturbance in the store, which gives the business owner a right to ask the animal to leave.

However, if a business owner is suspected of discriminating against a disabled person with a service animal, the business owner can be ticketed for misdemeanor discrimination, police said.

A Dillard’s District Manager called Gonzalez the next day to profusely apologize for his store’s insensitive disregard for the Americans With Disabilities Act. Gonzalez was unmoved, and claims that he will never shop at Dillard’s again: “I felt embarrassed, low. I’m over here accepting my disability in public, and you are going to mock and harass me?”

Store boots disabled vet and his service dog [Star-Tribune]
(Photo: D.J. Peters/Star-Tribune)

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  1. azntg says:

    Seriously, you don’t have to be blind or deaf to be disabled. Having severe balance issues (through neurological problems or anatomical problems) could be a struggle and a disability in its own right.

    My dad (unsure if it’s PD or Parkinsonism) opts to use a shopping cart or a cane for balance, but if he opted to use a service dog for balancing, I’d support him.

    Way to go Dillard’s, you got caught in a double whammy!

  2. sleze69 says:

    My stepmother used to train service dogs. Whether they are fully fledged service dogs or just dogs in training it’s THE LAW that they are allowed to go pretty much anywhere(my stepmother would threaten to call police if any store/restaurant gave her a hard time).

    If this doesn’t result in a civil law suit, it should atleast result in a large governmental fine for Dillards.

  3. DaleM says:

    Hopefully this gentleman will find other businesses more understanding and sympathetic to his needs.

  4. headon says:

    You should train the service dog to crap in every Dillards.

  5. DallasDMD says:

    @sleze69: I don’t think the local cops have jurisdiction over that.

  6. coan_net says:

    If the guy only said he was training the dog, then it is his own fault.

    Like it was said, if he would have identified himself as disabled, or identified the dog as a service dog and that he needed the dog to keep his balance, he would have been allowed in the store.

    To expect store managers to respond to a compliant against the dog, and then try to guess if the person is disabled since he did not identified himself as disabled – then why is the store being blamed?

  7. timmus says:

    I read the article and couldn’t find any reference to this “disturbance in the store”. This is not very good journalism.

  8. chrisgoh says:

    Just a question, do you have to be certified to train service animals? Or do service animals have to be registered? If someone did want to game the system, could they just claim they were training their pet to be a service animal and then get free rein to bring their household pet anywhere?

  9. alice_bunnie says:

    @chrisgoh:
    According to the article, In Texas, an assistance animal in training has the same rights as long as the trainer is an agent of an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of animals and their handlers.

  10. blitzcat says:

    Misleading title. I thought Dillard’s put a parking boot on his disabilities action van, then shackled his dog.

  11. nightshade74 says:

    @coan_net:

    Because the dog was clearly marked.

    [www.woai.com]
    “In front of a whole staff of shoppers, I was asked to depart with my clearly marked service dog,”

    Besides even a dog in TRAINING is afforded access
    to a business.

    The DOJ is fairly clear on this as well:
    [www.usdoj.gov]

    “If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability….you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.”

    In short I’m much more likely to believe the
    vet than the store manager and that is why
    I blame the store esp. since it garnered
    an appology.

  12. loueloui says:

    Screw Dillards. Pretentious pricks. They are even worse than Macy’s.

    Seriously, if you ever want to get talked down to by someone with far less education, or social status than yourself, A Dillards makeup counter is the way to go.

  13. @blitzcat: I thought the title meant boots by Dillard’s caused a guy to become disabled.

    @sleze69: Last summer, I helped raise a Seeing Eye dog with my now ex. When they are in training, we were told you HAVE to ask the store/place of business if you can bring them in, because the dogs have not been formally trained. Once they pass their training, the can go wherever they want w/ their handlers. There were a few occasions where we could not bring the dog somewhere because he was only in training. I heard from my ex that he went back to the Seeing Eye in early Nov ’07, and he seems to be doing well in the program.

    @chrisgoh: With the Seeing Eye, they came and did like an interview, and you had to get the animal their regular checkups, attend meetings, give status reports, etc. And yes, the dogs are tattoed, and you have paper work/ID for the dog identifying them as dogs in training.

  14. @chrisgoh: Also, some states allow “comfort” animals. All you have to prove is that the animal provides some sort of comfort service, and you can get a ID for it. So in that sense, you can get a parrot to be your comfort animal if you have a mental disorder where you feel like you are a pirate trapped in a 21st century person’s body. Add eye patch and optional wooden leg, and a-hoy Dillards!!

  15. hedgecabbit says:

    @Headon – No need to train the dog to crap in the store… the customers already do.

    I worked at a Dillard’s for a year. And it’s such a shitty, shitty company.

  16. “If a person wishes to seek to train a dog in a Dillard’s department store, the respective store manager needs to be contacted so that the best time can be established for both parties.”
    =========================================

    What a load of shit!!!! The cop should have written them up.

    I gave up Dullerds years ago when it came to light that they were ‘flagging’ checks with a 1 or 2 number to designate whether the check writer was white or black. They also have a very restrictive return policy which my mother found out about when she tried to return a Xmas gift I gave her years ago and she didn’t have my receipt. The item had a Dullerds tag on it so obviously it came from their store.

    Dullerds just SUCKS!

  17. MisterE says:

    Where’s the designated community leaders such as Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Hannity & Colmes, etc? Why aren’t they screaming outrage and blasting this to our faces on the 24 hour news networks?

    The reason is because he’s a vet and nobody gives a shit. I’m a disabled vet and I speak from experience.

  18. Pylon83 says:

    I agree with some of the commenters that brought up the issue that he apparently did not identify himself as disabled. While not entirely the OP’s fault, I think he made it worse by not saying “I am disabled and this is my service dog”. Rather than doing that, he expected the store manager to read the vest on the dog, and make the assumption that the handler was actually disabled. The simple fact the dog is a service animal does not afford it access to places that do not permit animals unless it is with the person who requires the dog. It seems the “animal in training” issue varies state to state and is probably not part of the ADA (I didn’t look it up, so don’t hold me to that). Again, it’s terrible on the part of the store that they kicked him out, but I think the OP is at least partly to blame for his failure to communicate his disability to the manager.

  19. othium says:

    Many of the people I serve tell me about the lack of understanding they witness daily when they are out shopping or commuting to and from work/school.

    It’s disappointing that the management wasn’t better trained so situations like this can be avoided.

    “Welcome to Dillard’s, Inc.. We are a retail department store offering fashion apparel and home furnishings from coast to coast. Dillard’s caters to a broad spectrum of the population.” -Except for those with disabilities it seems.

  20. Cerb says:

    What kind of idiot manager would even chance kicking a disabled man and his dog out? I mean, sure there is the possibility that the man isn’t really disabled, but if he is you can probably kiss your job goodbye.

  21. nursetim says:

    @Pylon83:
    So are you saying that not only does the dog need to wear a vest, the owner needs to also? Maybe people aren’t so willing to broadcast to the world that they are disabled, and simply want to go about life as close to normal as possible.

  22. Pylon83 says:

    @nursetim:
    That’s not even remotely close to what I said. I said that when the confrontation ensued, it would have made things much, much simpler if he had simply stated he was disabled. I do think he has a responsibility to do so when asked what the purpose of the dog is. I’m not saying he needs to say anything more than “I am disabled and this is my service dog”, but I don’t think that is too much to ask, particularly when confronted by store management.

  23. categorically says:

    I know at least 3 people who use those “training” vests on their dogs so they can bring them into stores. It is these people who are the problem.

    Now you’d think any manager who actually listened to the vet would have realized that they weren’t trying to be selfish, but I can see how stores want to crack down on this. Plus if the dog is disturbing other customers, I can’t see any reason, even it if it a service dog, for Dillards not to ask the man to leave.

    There needs to be more regulation of these “training vests” that people seem to be using these days.

  24. chrishop says:

    So I used to work in a bank and while I was helping a customer I heard a noise behind her in the lobby. I looked out past her to see what it was, and she said “oh it’s ok its a service dog.” There wasn’t a dog in the lobby and I was a bit confused until I saw the small dog sticking its head out of her purse!
    Are you kidding me?!? It is people like this lady that I have described that make it hard for people like Mr. Gonzalez eho have real needs and real service dogs. For all the women who feel the need to carry their dogs around with them in their purse…STOP IT! And if asked about it don’t lie and call a 5 1/2 pound furball a service dog. That dog couldn’t do anything to serve you. There I’m done.

  25. Pylon83 says:

    @categorically:
    I agree. I think that if the dog was disturbing other customers, service dog or not, they were within their rights to ask him the leave. The ADA isn’t designed to force store owners to tolerate service dogs regardless of the circumstances. If the dog is causing a ruckus, they should be allowed to ask them to leave. It would be no different than asking an unruly customer in a wheelchair to leave.

  26. niteflytes says:

    I read the original article. I don’t see any evidence that the OP did NOT identify himself as disabled and identify his dog as a service dog. The article does not definitively state whether he made this identification or not. However, I think it would be prudent for any store manager to err on the side of caution when someone has a dog with a vest on identifying the animal as a service dog. There’s an obvious difference between a dog in a purse and a dog wearing a service vest. However, anyone training a dog to be a service animal should be aware of the laws and follow proper procedure for taking the animal into businesses even if that entails making arrangements with the store manager.

  27. Hoss says:

    I know it’s not relevent to the facts, but I would think that training a six month old dog in public would be hazardous for a man unstable on his feet.

    In any event, I was disapointed that the story didn’t explain how boots purchased at Dillards disabled someone (and their dog). Now that would be a “Dillards” story — instead there’s a story about some store manager in a town that I’ve never heard about

  28. Pylon83 says:

    @niteflytes1:
    It’s one thing to err on the side of caution in a normal situation, but if the dog was causing a disturbance (which has not been confirmed), I don’t think it was out of line for him to ask.

  29. chersolly says:

    @chrishop:
    It could have been one of those seizure detection service dogs?

  30. cryrevolution says:

    The article is seriously confusing. My first question is what disturbance was reported to the police prior to this incident? Or was it THIS incident? If there was a prior, then I would understand the manager’s stance. But, what are they talking about? And second, according to the article, for dogs in training, they can have the same rights as certified dogs if they are being trained by a member or agent of an organization that specializes in training those dogs. So, technically, according to the article, the store might have some leverage. But, who does that? I mean, yeah all technicalities aside, who throws out a guy who’s disabled & has a disabled dog? As long as its not crapping on the floor or biting people, I would think that was a preeeetty insensitive move on Dillards part.

  31. Pylon83 says:

    @cryrevolution:
    I agree. he article was pretty confusing. However, his admission that the dog was in training, and the fact that dogs in training only have rights in Texas if they are being trained by an agent of an organization that engages in the business of training dogs, he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on (no pun intended). Who’s to say the manager wasn’t aware of what the law was and made an informed decision that the dog in training, not accompanied by an agent of an organization that trains dogs, could be excluded from the store? I think there are a lot of holes here, and in my opinion, I think the store and the vet were wrong.

  32. JRuiz47 says:

    @timmus:

    You mean you couldn’t see the third graf before “An apology?”

    My guess is that if Dillard’s officials didn’t confirm nor deny the incident, it probably didn’t happen.

  33. Bryan Price says:

    Why does it matter if the dog is in training or not?

    That’s one update to the ADA that I would certainly support.

    There is no “best” time for allowing training, real customers with service animals will come in whatever time they please. They certainly won’t be calling the manager to see what time is “best” to come in and shop now, will they?

    Because maybe it’s not just about training the dog, but training others who may come into contact in such a circumstance?

    And of course there was a “disturbance” recorded about the whole thing. He was asked to leave! Of course they considered it a disturbance. I’ve seen that played out a couple of times personally. There was a disturbance, but of course the offended party won’t state that had they not made a fuss in the first place that there wouldn’t have been a disturbance.

  34. gingerCE says:

    This sounds fishy too. Anyone (even a disabled person) can’t just plop on a vest on a dog and say they are in training. The training is almost never done by the disabled person but by a third party organization.

    My mom is disabled. She has two dogs. She can’t just slap on a vest and bring her dogs with her into any store she likes in order to “train” them. In fact isn’t it illegal to slap on a vest on a dog without it being a real service training dog? It sounds like this guy got this dog and decided to train it.

  35. Televiper says:

    @Pylon83: Then the owner should inform the man of the rules, and let him continue shopping with a warning. It would have been the decent, humane, and civil thing to do. Instead the owner chose to be the crotchety prick. Outside of rigidly applying an in-store rule, there is nothing in the article that indicates that it was necessary for the man to leave.

  36. thalia says:

    WTF, ‘he never identified himself as being disabled’?? I’m sorry, but the last time I checked, people with disabilities don’t walk into a store and immediately shout, “I’m disabled!” (well, I know at least one who does, but thats not the point)

    If the dog is wearing his service vest, the guy is obviously disabled. And even if he wasn’t and just training, the dogs need to get used to all sorts of places and scenarios.

    While I don’t quite agree with the family upset about the restaurant issue, I think in this case Dillard’s was out of line, especially considering the manager was ignorant enough to think that only blind and deaf people are disabled!

  37. jcastle says:

    This sort of thing never happens here in Germany. Dogs are welcome everywhere and anywhere. Its quite cool, actually, as an American to see dogs in restaurants, stores, trains, buses etc without them being any sort of service dog. America really needs to relax on the whole dog ban thing.

  38. bobpence says:

    JCASTLE, it is largely fear of liability in the U.S., but my experience with Europe generally and Germany in particular is that, even compared to the pre-ADA U.S., it is much less accommodating to the disabled. I’ll gladly leave my best friend at home rather than deny access to the world at large to every blind or wheelchair-bound person.

  39. forgottenpassword says:

    This is an odd situation. Because the guy was not actually disabled to where he needed the dog & was just training a service dog in the store. I really dont know how to judge this one…. however I am slightly leaning towards the manager at this point. MY question is…. was this man actually disabled & did this disability actually NEED a service dog?

    ABout the line that says that the guy should have contacted the manager to set up a time when it would be convenient to the store’s operation to allow the man to train the dog there….. I find this quite reasonable. It IS a business after all & private property. Would you train your kid to drive during the holiday rush in a parking lot full of agressive drivers with very little spaces to park? SHOULD the store be allowed to boot you & your kid if you are just using their busy lot to practice driving? I’d say yes! Its proper to tell management what you are up to if your business in their establishment is of a nature contrary to the reasonable purpose of that establishment (and would possibly disturb the operation of that store). Years ago I brought in a device that sets off radar detectors (a small handheld black box called a highway zapper) into a best buy to test some radar detectors they had on display. I TOLD the guy at the door what I had & what I was planning on doing & asked if it was aceptable (I didnt want them wonder what I was doing & cause trouble for me)…. they said it was ok, I did my thing then left… had no problems. The man training his dog could have easily done this as well.

    When you get right down to it…. stores are for actual shopping & parking lots are for parking.

    However … IF this man was actually disabled & his disability needed the service dog…. then that is different. My uncle is disabled, but doesnt require/need the services of a service dog…. but does that give him the right to use an establishment’s property to train this dog?

  40. Vegconsumer says:

    Wouldn’t the “SERVICE DOG-NOT A PET” tip any reasonable person off that indeed, the dog is a service dog, and therefore allowed in the store?

  41. forgottenpassword says:

    @forgottenpassword:

    correction: Ok I actually read the article. In my previous post I was under the impression that this guy was a service dog trainer who happened to have a disability that didnt need a dog, but was using his non-related disability so he could have a valid excuse to train the service dog in a store. I see now that it is not the case.

    Depends on who is telling the truth. The store manager or the disabled guy.

    Question… should I be allowed to slap a “service dog… do not pet” sign on my pet dog & then clip his leash to my belt & trapse into any store even if I am not obviously disabled & expect to be unchallenged?

  42. Pylon83 says:

    @Vegconsumer:
    I don’t think it does. I can’t slap a service animal vest on my dog and take her into Macy’s without repercussion. I don’t think they should be restrained from at least questioning the owner.

  43. bobpence says:

    One hopes yes, but with the threat of heavy penalties if you are not a valid user or trainer.

  44. @Bryan Price: “There is no “best” time for allowing training, real customers with service animals will come in whatever time they please.”

    It sort-of depends. During early training, and depending on the animal, you may want to bring them at times when things are less-crowded, since they have to learn all kinds of things, how to navigate a new place, how to behave properly in the stores, etc., as well as how to handle crowds. My understanding is it varies state-to-state whether service animals in training are required by law to be allowed access; however, most places, if you call ahead, are delighted to allow you access. (We have some friends who train for Seeing Eye.)

    I used to live near a place where they trained service miniature PONIES. (Ponies!) They were primarily, IIRC, for the blind who had balance problems; the pony could support them when a dog would be too small. The ponies trained at the mall (in cute little booties, their hooves are hell on the flooring), and they often went at less-busy times, both to train the ponies slowly to the job AND because the ponies themselves drew such a crowd it could be hard to train them with 50 kids crowding around the pony. :)

    They did always make a big thing about calling ahead and educating local businesses, partly because service ponies aren’t widely known and it’s the kind of thing people are likely to be like, “Right, service pony, tell me another — and get out!”

  45. Pylon83 says:

    I’m sure I’ll get raked over the coals for this, but one thing that bothers me about this (logically) is this part of the article
    “When Gonzalez holds Mason’s leash or clips it to his belt loop, the dog prevents Gonzalez from falling if his knees give out or he loses his balance.”
    I’m not sure I can make a connection between holding what is seemingly a regular “limp” lease and maintaining balance. I could certainly see it if it was one of the rigid harness-like devices used on seeing eye dogs, but this just makes no sense to me. Perhaps someone with some experience with this can chime in here, but it just doesn’t click that the dog would provide any balance assistance here.

  46. Balisong says:

    @blitzcat: I thought a war vet had bought some boots from Dillard’s and they gave him some disease that caused him to become disabled!

    Is this guy certified to train dogs? Otherwise, I don’t believe he’s allowed to take his dog in training everywhere. That could create some dangerous situations where owners think their little Precious is going to be perfectly behaved. I could start training my dog tomorrow but he’s still gonna go NUTS in a store. But I don’t know the laws – just going off of what I saw in an episode of Dog Whisperer.

  47. forgottenpassword says:

    @Pylon83:

    Maybe he considers the dog as a landing pad just in case his knees give out? Something to grab onto before he hits the ground? I agree… sounds kinda odd, but I do understand that ANY help is help when it comes to helping a disabled person… even if it seems like a far-fetched almost hard to believe reason.

  48. Pylon83 says:

    @forgottenpassword:
    I guess in my opinion the need for a service animal, and the corresponding right to impose it on virtually ANY business, should be reasonable. Simply having it there to grab onto, in my opinion, is not reasonable. It would seem that a cane would serve nearly the same purpose without infringing on the right of a business owner to exclude animals.

  49. blkhrt1 says:

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (hereafter ADA) is no joke. We recently had to lower our shelves to comply with this law so which means, those who AREN’T disabled have to yet again, bend (both literally and figuratively) to meet others “special” needs. I am in no way saying disabled persons aren’t as equal as those who aren’t, but I refuse to believe that the world has to stop spinning the way it is just for them.

    On the other note, if he would’ve just called the store and said he was training his LEGAL service dog, it would’ve been uneventful. BUT, instead of choosing the less-self-depreciating method of a cane, he chose a dog. Why? No one knows but him. Dogs are most used to help lead the blind and hear for the deaf, open doors, retrieve items, and otherwise assist their owners. Rarely are they used as balancing devices, because I don’t know about you, but a 150 lb. man vs. a 50 lb. dog doesn’t seem to really be a fair balance. Either way, I see both sides and hope, for the disabled soldier’s sake, that he doesn’t have to deal with this again.

  50. m4rcus says:

    I do volunteer work for an organization that helps disabled people, and I am around service dogs and trainers all the time. I have never heard of a service dog being used to keep balance. I don’t even see how that would be physically possible, especially with a scrawny dog like the one in that picture. Furthermore, after reading the article it sounds to me like this vet has just decided to make his own dog a ‘service dog’ and he is training the dog himself. This is not a “service dog” as far as the ADA is concerned. Therefore the vet is in the wrong. Being a disabled vet doesn’t give you the right to break the rules that everyone else has to follow. And then he has the nerve to call the cops! This man needs a cane. His doctor would probably agree. I can’t think of any business that would throw out a man for having a cane.

  51. Buran says:

    @MisterE: About which, the vet-ness or the disabled-ness?

    I’ve had people tell me I shouldn’t be trying to do things I want to do because those things “just weren’t made for deaf people”.

    WTF?

    Read this, and you’ll be disgusted at the hate, bigotry, and outright uncaring attitudes of people toward those who just want equal access to things “normal” people enjoy … and just need a little bit of help.

    About the Project[CC]

  52. Buran says:

    @Pylon83: Except for the fact that the dog WAS clearly labelled as a service animal and service animals are required, by the ADA, to be given access to businesses which normally don’t allow animals. I’m disabled, don’t need a service animal because of it, but I know my rights under the law were I deaf to the point where I did need a dog …

    Unlabelled dog, you might have a point. Labelled dog, the guy should have taken one look and turned around and walked away.

  53. Buran says:

    @blkhrt1: Consider, however, the fact that the disabled may not be able to reach the shelves at ALL at the “normal” height, while those who aren’t can adjust themselves to reach them. Helping others sometimes requires a slight bit of effort, but when you’re talking about a little bit of trouble some people that prevents others from being TOTALLY excluded, is a worthy compromise. My disability doesn’t stop me from reaching for items on shelves but being disabled in another way means that I can put myself in others’ shoes and am willing to help out.

  54. Buran says:

    @Pylon83: Except you know nothing about the person’s disability. Who are you (and I, and anyone else here) to judge whether he’s “right” to have a dog?

    The ADA says that he and his dog have to be granted equal access. So he gets equal access, end of story.

    You have to go through quite a bit to get a dog, so you only have a dog if you have a real need for one, by the way.

  55. forgottenpassword says:

    @Pylon83:

    I agree with you there… it should be reasonable.

  56. Pylon83 says:

    @Buran:
    From the way this story reads, he did get the dog from an organization that trains dogs. It seems he bought a dog, and is trying to train it using DVD’s. Come on, I don’t think anyone can say that rises to the same level as an actual properly trained service dog. On its face, it seems he went through nothing to get the dog, other than buying some DVD’s. Maybe we don’t have the whole story, but based on what has been published, I think the whole situation is a bit questionable.
    Further, I still refuse to accept that the simple fact that the dog has a vest should be definitive as to whether it has a right to be there. A cursory search of E-Bay shows those vests are readily available for you and I to purchase at will. I should not be able to slap one of those on my dog and waltz into any store without have to at least answer a question from the proprietor as to the necessity for the dog. I liken it to using your friends handicapped permit to get a close spot.

  57. coren says:

    @Pylon83: Right, but the man identified himself as disabled and the dog as a service animal in training. At that point, they can’t require proof, they have to accept his word for it…the most they can do is ask if it is a service animal.

  58. Pylon83 says:

    @Buran:
    Additionally, I think that you and I and the public at large do have some right to question the reasonableness of using a service dog. Once a person has a legal right to a service animal, they get to impose on the rights of others to exclude animals from their private businesses. This is a pretty large infringement of private property rights that is acceptable under certain circumstances. I believe that the public, and their elected representatives, absolutely have the right to judge whether the use of a dog and the associated privileges is reasonable. There are a number of disabilities out there in which a service animal would be wholly inappropriate and unreasonable. If the general public is not allowed to judge those situations, who is?

  59. coren says:

    @Pylon83: According to the article, he’s following the guidelines to train the dog. Whether the DVDs are a supplement to that or are something else, I don’t know, but he’s following their directions and is in the process of getting the dog certified…

  60. Pylon83 says:

    @coren:
    I think the only point in which you are wrong is the “dog in training” part. In order for a service dog in training in TX to be given the same rights as a full-fledged service dog it must be under the care and control of a person who is an agent for an organization who trains such animals. I imagine this was done to keep “amateur” trainers from abusing the ADA. Let’s be honest, this guy was training the dog based on a DVD. He is not a professional service dog trainer, and thus is not entitled to the rights and protections of the quoted law.

  61. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    @Bryan Price: Are you supposed to train your own service dogs? I always presumed that “legitimate” service dogs were provided by some sort of organization.

    And while I’m hesitant to impose my judgment on someone else’s disability, I wonder if a cane might be a better adaptation for “losing balance” than a dog.

  62. Pylon83 says:

    @D.B. Cooper-Nichol:
    I agree. I think that better controls are in place when you are required to obtain the dog from a certified, etc. organization after providing the necessary proof that you need a dog.

  63. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    I know some folks who purchased a “service dog in training” vest online, just so they could take their pet to the mall with them.

    Scummy, but unfortunately not unique.

  64. trollkiller says:

    This is so fascinating. If this vet had been a crippled girl we would have been overwhelmed with posts calling for the manager’s lynching. [consumerist.com]

    The only “disturbance” mentioned is the puppy’s reluctance boarding the escalator. I imagine that would cause a bit of a bottleneck during a busy shopping day. Although the article did say the puppy can be a bit rambunctious they did not say he was rambunctious this time.

    The vet was trying to be honest and not play the disabled card. He told the manager the dog was in training to explain the “non professional” behavior of the dog.

    Unless the dog was causing a major disruption the manager should have just let it go when told the dog was in training even though he is legally in the right removing the dog.

  65. carpediemcls says:

    And this is what happens in America during the holidays in department stores…retail employees who work way too many long hours for too little pay get crabby.
    I am not sure I beleive the part about the dog creating a disturbance, as even the dogs in training with these programs are usually extremely well behaved. We used to have a lady bring hers into church with her every sunday and that dog was very well behaved. Never causing any disturbace the entire service.
    Just sounds to me like this guy really didn’t like dogs.

  66. gingerCE says:

    @Pylon83: What!! This guy was “training” a dog using a dvd? I suspected as much because his vest didn’t label the organization affiliated with the training.

    He should be cited for animal cruelty and for impersonating a real animal trainer. I’m serious. This guy is a jerk.

    Like I said my mom is disabled, and no way would buy a vest for her dogs and pretend that she is training them because she happens to be disabled.

  67. Benny Gesserit says:

    @headon: A triple coiler with a DQ swirl, if possible.

  68. trollkiller says:

    @gingerCE: Wow! This vet is perfectly capable of training a dog. Cruelty my ass.

    Who better to train a dog then the person using the dog. This vet is training the dog now while he is able, so the dog can serve him when he is further disabled.

  69. pylon83 says:

    @trollkiller:
    While he may be capable of training the dog, sich conduct does not rise to the level of that protected by law. It is fairly clear from the wording of the statute that only essentially professionals training service dogs are afforded protection. Ii certainly don’t think it rises to animal cruelty, I also don’t think his conduct deserves protection. If the protections afforded by the ADA are allowed to be abused, the whole system, and those with legitimate needs for its protections, suffer.

  70. sibertater says:

    I don’t get how the Americans With Disabilities Act is a civil matter? Anyone? Anyone?

  71. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I wonder what it’s like to be a disabled veteran, possibly unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to purchase a trained service dog, trying to train a dog yourself so that you can regain independence, only to be told that you aren’t handicapped enough for Dillard’s.

    I’m guessing it’s not too great.

  72. EtherealStrife says:

    So how did Dillard’s boots disable a vet and his dog? Did they cause him to trip and fall on it?

    Hopefully there were witnesses who can confirm/deny whether the man clearly identified himself as disabled and training a service animal.

    “When Gonzalez holds Mason’s leash or clips it to his belt loop, the dog prevents Gonzalez from falling if his knees give out or he loses his balance.”
    I’d really like to see that in action. What does the dog do if Gonzalez falls forward, zip around behind him and pull?!?

  73. trollkiller says:

    @pylon83: No argument there, my offense came from the “He should be cited for animal cruelty and for impersonating a real animal trainer. I’m serious. This guy is a jerk.” comment.

  74. trollkiller says:

    @sibertater: Civil as in not an arrestable offense. Like a traffic ticket, you are still breaking the law but it is a civil infraction.

  75. trollkiller says:

    @EtherealStrife: I am thinking he catches himself on the dog. If that is the case I think he may want to get a bigger dog.

  76. Boberto says:

    I’ve been training Service dogs for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind for some years now, and this is a very typical experience.

    Kudos to the Hurst Police Department for repeating the mantra of their Brethren across the Nation; “It’s a civil matter”. This statement (roughly translated) really means; “Stop bothering us, and let us get back to the doughnut shop”. These are your Patriot Act tax dollars at work here folks.

  77. RvLeshrac says:

    @bobpence:

    How about people in Iron Lungs? Should every store have to cater to every disability?

    For being so ‘socialist,’ it seems like they’ve left the decision up to the free market.

  78. RvLeshrac says:

    @boberto:

    “It is a civil matter” means that the police do not have jurisdiction. They have no power to do anything about it.

  79. gingerCE says:

    @trollkiller: Eventually professional guide dog trainers will work with the disabled person and the animal to train them together.

    For him to decide to take it upon himself to train his own dog seems dangerous and unethical to me. He is an amateur. We’re not talking basic behavior training–guide dogs go through rigorous training and testing–someone who doesn’t know what they are doing could be in danger of abusing or harming the dog.

    The reason he may have decided to go on his own is a) it is cheaper although many organizations will give guide dogs to free for those who cannot afford them BUT they’d have to qualify. I doubt this man would qualify for a free trained guide dog which is why he decided to go on his own.

    I absolutely believe this man needs to be investigated for animal cruelty.

  80. trollkiller says:

    @gingerCE: What would be your basis for animal cruelty? Maybe you are seeing something here I am missing. The dog is not a guide dog, so it would not require the ability to “read” traffic or maneuvering its master through a crowded room.

    As for training his own dog, anyone that has the time a patience can properly train a dog. I have owned professionally trained dogs and dogs we have trained ourselves. There was no difference in the performance of the dogs. These were not house pets but guard and protection trained.

    Why would it be unethical to train an animal to help you? Not getting it. Please explain your position further.

  81. trollkiller says:

    Did anybody else notice the guy is stepping on the dog’s tail in the photo?

  82. HardworkinJudy says:

    Maybe I am not reading the article thoroughly, but I feel as if I am missing some important facts. The title is misleading. . I wonder how a dog can assist someone 4 or 5 times his weight with balance, but I also, (while sympathizing with anyone who is diabled, and particular a veteran)wonder how the shopper (vet) thought taking a dog in a store would be low profile. Did I read right in that he felt embarrassment in the attention that was created? Standard Operating Procedure in most retail situations is to not allow animals in, unless they are clearly service animals. Store management has to consider all customer’s needs, and there are those who are allergic to animals. When working in a store previously, a stray had entered and I had to remove feces that had been tracked through the store. This is not a pleasant task and it could have resulted in fines from the health department. This manager may well have lost their job because of this unfortunate situation. Too bad everyone involved could not have been better prepared – but how?

  83. Alvis says:

    Cane. End.

  84. gingerCE says:

    @trollkiller: Hi. I have 3 dogs myself and while in the past used a professional dog trainer for obedience lessons, I train my dogs now on my own. That’s not the issue. Guide/Service dogs go through rigorous training/testing–it is not the same as guard and/or basic behavior training.

    He should not be training a dog to be a guide/service dog without professional oversight. He should be attending classes at the very least. Many times these dogs are chosen specifically after careful examination–they don’t just randomly pick up some dogs from the pound. Not all dogs were meant to do this.

    As far as I’m concerned, he put a jacket on that dog and was testing that dog when he was untrained to do so. The ADA act does not protect amateur individuals who decide to train dogs on their own. I think his case is borderline fraud.

  85. shor0814 says:

    For those who don’t believe dogs can help with balance, do a little research, it is posted right on the DOJ website that was posted early in the comments section:

    Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. “Seeing eye dogs” are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

    _____Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.

    _____ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.

    _____Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

    The third example is pretty clear.

    And YES, the police can ticket the owner, it is not just a “civil matter” and is even in the excerpt above:

    However, if a business owner is suspected of discriminating against a disabled person with a service animal, the business owner can be ticketed for misdemeanor discrimination, police said.

  86. bvita says:

    If you read the complete ADA (not terribly thrilling) it basically says that discriminating against anyone with any type of disability is a criminal offense. Refusing the vet and his service animal is no different than refusing a black person admittance. I noticed that the vet is a middle aged white guy. Where are the Al Sharptons and Jessie Jacksons defending him against discrimination?

    Having said the above, I’ve also seen the law abused. As a frequent customer of the local Starbucks, there’s a middle aged woman who also frequents the place. She brings a pair of yip yip dogs with homemade sweaters that say “service animal” on them and allows these muts to run loose in the restaurant. The staff is afraid to say “boo” under penalty of being sued.

  87. Expanding Buttocks says:

    I worked in the DFW Dillard’s stores for over 4 years… and management is an absolute joke. They are poorly trained over-glorified sales people. I’ve seen sooooo much worse than this.

  88. freshyill says:

    A dog in a retail store? Ever been to New York? People bring their inbred teacup vanity dogs everywhere with them. It doesn’t bother me, but I did see a dog take a piss in a mall when I was in Germany, and the owner didn’t seem to care.

  89. Buran says:

    @Pylon83: You can’t exclude disabled people from your business. That is a protected class under federal law. It doesn’t matter whether or not the business owner likes it or not. If you go into business you’re obligated to obey the rules; if you don’t like it, you should not be in business.

  90. trollkiller says:

    @gingerCE: The ADA act does not protect amateur individuals who decide to train dogs on their own.

    Q: What is a service animal?[www.usdoj.gov]
    A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

    I don’t think you are correct in what the ADA protects. The way I read “individually trained” means the animal has been trained in a specific task or tasks for that disabled person. In the case of the vet the specific task may be for the dog to just stand there when leaned on. Something I feel the vet is capable of training the dog to do. But I agree he should be under some professional over site if nothing more than to make sure he is training the dog correctly.

    I will argue that a properly trained protection dog is just a vigorously trained as a service dog. Properly training a dog for weapons detection, seek, watch, take down a subject with minimal damage and most importantly to release a subject when ordered is pretty intensive training, I would put that on par with retrieving the telephone, remote or crossing the street safely. I know how much work goes into training a dog, that is why I would rather someone else do it for me.

    Everything else I pretty much agree with you.

    p.s. it sucked owning a protection dog as a kid, we never could keep our toy guns as Caesar would aways take them from us and chew them to bits. When you are 8 you can’t win an argument with a determined Great Dane.

  91. trollkiller says:

    @shor0814:
    @bvita:

    TITLE 42–THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE
    CHAPTER 126–EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
    SUBCHAPTER III–PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS AND SERVICES OPERATED BY PRIVATE ENTITIES

    Sec. 12188. Enforcement
    [frwebgate.access.gpo.gov]
    (B) Potential violation

    If the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe
    that–
    (i) any person or group of persons is engaged in a
    pattern or practice of discrimination under this subchapter;
    or
    (ii) any person or group of persons has been
    discriminated against under this subchapter and such
    discrimination raises an issue of general public importance,

    the Attorney General may commence a civil action in any
    appropriate United States district court.

    Sorry guys the cops are right, it is a civil matter.

  92. mattbrown says:

    That’s pretty douchey. I mean, wtf, the guy thinks he can just walk around with his assistant dog all over the place? What is this, PetSmart? (j/k)

  93. JanetCarol says:

    Personally I think all well behaved animals should be allowed everywhere. Either way – I’ll never shop at dillards because of this. What a jerk of a manager, especially to a vet.

  94. blkhrt1 says:

    Exactly. Cane + Vet – Dog = less troubles.

  95. blkhrt1 says:

    Also, this is from the newspaper.

    “Gonzalez says he is continuously training the sometimes rambunctious dog, using DVD instruction and online information in accordance with the Assistance Dogs International Checklist.

    Gonzalez said he is in the process of having Mason certified as an official service dog.”

    The dog isn’t even an official service dog. So there…

  96. @blkhrt1: Seriously? You’re upset because you’ll have to bend? Oh the horror!

    I have never heard of a service dog being used to keep balance.

    @m4rcus: That’s funny, because I have heard of dogs being used for balance. A cane isn’t going to stop someone from shaking uncontrollably but a dog can.

  97. PigsnBacon says:

    I grew up in the hellhole known as Hurst and this doesn’t surprise me at all. Be wary of being non-white or looking shabby there, they don’t take kindly to that stock.

    Hurst cops care more about busting teens and non-white people than actually dealing with any matter.

    Do I sound bitter? Of course. I was white and rich when I grew up there, my close friends were not and the discrimination in comparison was painful. It’s a suburban hellhole.

  98. @Buran: That link was absolutely disgusting.

    And since accessibility is a big trend in video games (it’s been 3rd-party accessories up ’til now, but now a lot of the console makers and game makers are getting on board), those people are way out of touch anyway. Fortunately, I guess.

    What assholes, especially when video games are frequently one of the few ways disabled kids can interact on a very “normal” level with their peers, and where the differences and difficulties of a disability can be wiped away.

  99. @bobpence: Yes, the U.S. actually does a huge business in tourism for disabled foreigners, BECAUSE of the ADA and how far the U.S. goes to make everything possible accessible. For many disabled tourists, it’s easier to get around on vacation here than at home. (Too bad we’re harassing foreigners so much at customs/immigration that nobody wants to tourist it up here anymore!)

  100. @trollkiller: “As for training his own dog, anyone that has the time a patience can properly train a dog.”

    It’s not the same thing. Typically, service dogs are chosen very young, put out to families who raise, socialize, and train them until they’re about a year old, using a very strict protocol. Then they’re removed from that family and go to “doggie college” to learn their actual business of service. A lot of them — a LOT of them — wash out, which is part of why families do the early raising: they’ll often adopt the washouts. THEN the the dog has to be matched to a disabled person, and the two have to be trained together — which also doesn’t always work out.

    I, too, am suspicious of someone training their own service animal. I *HAVE* seen situations/met service dogs where the dog trained itself — typically seizure-sensing dogs who were family pets who alerted them to seizures, then got training from the local organization. But those dogs, no matter how smart, are never up to the standard of “professionalism” that a trained-from-birth service animal is.

    I don’t know enough to say about this veteran’s dog and its training, but training service animals is VERY different than normal training, protection training, or even K-9 cop training. It’s EXTREMELY unusual for it to be undertaken by an amateur, and it’s even MORE unusual for it to be undertaken successfully by an amateur.

  101. Pylon83 says:

    @Buran:
    Let me say I certainly did not intend to infer that businesses should be able to exclude the disabled. What I did intend to say was that the ADA places some pretty heavy burdens on private business owners, and its protections should be tightly controlled to ensure that someone who slaps a “Service Animal” vest on their dog can’t wrongly infringe upon the private business owners right to exclude animals. The only way that right should/can be infringed upon is under a legitimate ADA situation. I certainly believe the ADA serves a valuable purpose in the community, and should be strictly, but carefully, enforced.

    I also still believe that the issue here is the fact the dog was not a “Service Animal” yet, it was in training, and under Texas law, given the circumstances, he had no right to impose the dog on the store. As TrollKiller pointed out, there is no certification required, but it does say “Trained”, not “in training” or “being trained”. It implies that the dog IS properly trained already. I agree with Trollkiller’s interpretation of the “individual training” clause, however I think that in the interest of society, such clause should be interpreted to mean professionally trained, not trained by you and a DVD. I just feel such a lax reading could lead to problems. I’m curious as to what the courts have said about that provision. Perhaps I’ll look it up this afternoon and see if I can find a court interpretation of it.

  102. Beerad says:

    @Buran: “You can’t exclude disabled people from your business…”

    But that’s not what happened here. The issue wasn’t “you can’t be here because you’re disabled” but apparently “your dog is misbehaving in our store, please leave.” Yes, service animals are permitted by law, but this was not a service animal. This was someone’s pet that he was training, by himself, to help him. The guy even admitted that his dog is “rambunctious” at times, not a trait that is usually associated with a trained service dog.

    It seems like accounts of what happened differ: according to Dillard’s, the veteran did not identify himself as disabled, only insisting that he was training the dog (and Dillard’s has a policy in place for helping train service dogs that he was not following), I don’t think the manager’s actions were unreasonable. Even if he explained that he was disabled, that doesn’t automatically grant you a free license to take your non-certified service-dog-in-training everywhere you go. It’s clear that in Texas the service dog-in-training needs to be accompanied by an official service agency trainer.

  103. StevieD says:

    My dog is laying under my desk at my feet.

    My business allows PETS to visit the workplace.

    So I am a pretty open minded guy about doggies and their owners.

    Properly trained service dogs for the blind and deaf tend to be fairly well behaved dogs.

    Regardless of how well trained, it is the responsibility of the dog owner to keep his/her dog under control. Any violation of such control is going to get the owner and the dog sent to the dog pound.

    Retail stores have a right and obligation to protect their customers from dogs that don’t behave or cause a problem. Secondly, way too many people are using “service animals”. Sorry, I am open minded about dogs visiting a business, but don’t lie and call a dog a “service dog” just because you think you can get away with it.

  104. Beerad says:

    @Beerad: Argh. Hey Consumerist, why’d you take away the posting feature where you could see how your comments will appear as you type them? Now it’s harder to proofread and edit out my stupid grammatical errors. Booooo.

  105. StevieD says:

    @Beerad:

    Same here

  106. gingerCE says:

    I had also heard quite a few service dogs chosen don’t make the cut. My problem with this guy is he is forcing his will onto the dog when he has no significant training to do so.

    In one of my classes we watched a medical procedure (facelift) being done start to finish. I can go online and research face lifts. In no way does that make me trained to perform that surgery on myself or others. Yet, this guy reads some stuff online, watches a dvd, and all of a sudden he is able to train a service animal? If that is the case, there needs to be more protection for animals from people like him. The next step will be someone claiming to know how to do veterinary services and perform them on their dog in order to save money because they watched a dvd.

    Maybe this dog wasn’t meant to be a service dog–what then? Is he going to abandon the dog or continue to force it to do what he wants. How does he discipline the dog?

    I feel bad for this dog.

  107. sibertater says:

    @trollkiller: I must not be understanding something, I thought if you were in violation of a federal statute it was a federal offense.

    I am a Health Admin major and I’ve only taken the Law of Healthcare, so everything is a federal offense.

  108. trollkiller says:

    Any lawyers feel free to correct me.

    @sibertater: It may very well be a federal offense just not a criminal offense.

    Civil infractions like a traffic ticket or ADA infraction is in essence the state (Govt) suing you.

    Basically, and I am sure there are a few exceptions, if you can’t go to jail then it is civil.

  109. trollkiller says:

    @gingerCE: Pretty far reach between a medical procedure and training a dog.

    I am sure the dog is fine, looks healthy in the photo.

  110. Busybyeski says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: I was wondering why the dog was wearing boots too. Talk about a letdown.

    I honestly think this is another case of a disabled person abusing their status. I understand that it is illegal to discriminate disabled people and I have compassion for them, but he never told Dillard’s he was disabled and he seems really too disturbed by the incident. Was he really being “mocked and harassed”, or were the store owners just kicking out a loud dog?

  111. blkhrt1 says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Too bad the words “I’m upset” have never appeared on this page, otherwise your smart ass quip would have some valor to it. Just be quiet if you don’t know what you’re talking about. I said we conform to them enough, never did I complain about the shelves in general. So, in light of this new evidence, I have no choice but to believe that you are, in fact, stupid. Case closed.

  112. Deafdogrtainer says:

    Eyebrows has it wrong. There are a LOT of owner-trainers of service dogs out there. Every owner-trainer has to start with a young dog because of the socialization required (which is why he was training the dog in public).

    Dog training is not rocket science. I was training my own dog out of a book at 8 years old. What it does take is commitment, focus, and a willingness to change your own behavior, and HARD WORK. Disabled people have been training dogs to assist them for centuries. How dare claim some able-bodied person who knows nothing about disability knows better than I what I need?

    Anybody can call themselves a professional dog trainer if they can get somebody to pay them for advice. Same thing for service dog trainers. Many dog trainers just want to train service dogs, without knowing anything about disability. I hear it all the time. “I want to train dogs… and service dogs!”
    Most of those have no actual understanding of how disability affects their client’s lives and how the dog will actually work for the client. They can overlook very important gaps in the dog’s education as a consequence. I invite you to read this.

    [www.northstardogs.com]

    Many EXPERIENCED service dog users who have had program dogs choose to train their own dog because they know exactly what they want in a dog and how to work a dog in public.

    The reality is, it is the disabled partner who transforms the dog to a service dog. The dog must work for the partner, and the partner must be ready to retrain the dog to a balance that fits their needs and temperament.

    My dog who I temperament tested carefully at 8 months old out of a shelter turned out to be a great hearing ear dog AND a medical alert dog.
    I’ve even trusted him to guide me when I couldn’t see. But then, I picked him for brains and that certain vibe that said we could work together well. He learned sign quickly,and he started working for me in less than a month, although that first month or two I was simply focused on giving him more than 200 hours of socialization and letting him be a puppy and explore the world at his own pace.

    Some people are for arranged marriages, and they do work out. Other prefer to make their own choices. When it comes to a dog I’m keeping for 10 years or more, I want to choose.

    My dog had to live with me and learn my needs and get the basics before he could “train himself” to be my hearing dog. My needs were so great that I could not find an organization willing to guarantee they could train what I needed the most. Phone alerts? Pffft. I needed a dog who could save me from being hit by ambulances or idiotic drivers making blind right turns into crosswalks without even braking. I am THAT deaf. He did, because I trained him to do that.
    I’ve heard of program-trained guide dogs that took their blind owners right into traffic. Beautiful manners. The dog was never actually proofed for guiding ability with a blind dog trainer before being partnered. That’s a professional organization run by 100% sighted, nondisabled people. Oh the stories I could tell about the OTHER side of the fence.
    In the interest of society, service dogs should be excused from working in public if they display aggression or poor handling. And that’s in the ADA.

    It matters not if somebody was paid to train the dog; what really matters is whether the handler-dog team is trained and capable of working together in public.

  113. Deafdogrtainer says:

    Eyebrows has it wrong. There are a LOT of owner-trainers of service dogs out there. Every owner-trainer has to start with a young dog because of the socialization required (which is why he was training the dog in public).

    Dog training is not rocket science. I was training my own dog out of a book at 8 years old. What it does take is commitment, focus, and a willingness to change your own behavior, and HARD WORK. Disabled people have been training dogs to assist them for centuries. How dare claim some able-bodied person who knows nothing about disability knows better than I what I need?

    Anybody can call themselves a professional dog trainer if they can get somebody to pay them for advice. Same thing for service dog trainers. Many dog trainers just want to train service dogs, without knowing anything about disability. I hear it all the time. “I want to train dogs… and service dogs!”
    Most of those have no actual understanding of how disability affects their client’s lives and how the dog will actually work for the client. They can overlook very important gaps in the dog’s education as a consequence. I invite you to read this.

    [www.northstardogs.com]

    Many EXPERIENCED service dog users who have had program dogs choose to train their own dog because they know exactly what they want in a dog and how to work a dog in public.

    The reality is, it is the disabled partner who transforms the dog to a service dog. The dog must work for the partner, and the partner must be ready to retrain the dog to a balance that fits their needs and temperament.

    My dog who I temperament tested carefully at 8 months old out of a shelter turned out to be a great hearing ear dog AND a medical alert dog.
    I’ve even trusted him to guide me when I couldn’t see. But then, I picked him for brains and that certain vibe that said we could work together well. He learned sign quickly,and he started working for me in less than a month, although that first month or two I was simply focused on giving him more than 200 hours of socialization and letting him be a puppy and explore the world at his own pace.

    Some people are for arranged marriages, and they do work out. Other prefer to make their own choices. When it comes to a dog I’m keeping for 10 years or more, I want to choose.

    My dog had to live with me and learn my needs and get the basics before he could “train himself” to be my hearing dog. My needs were so great that I could not find an organization willing to guarantee they could train what I needed the most. Phone alerts? Pffft. I needed a dog who could save me from being hit by ambulances or idiotic drivers making blind right turns into crosswalks without even braking. I am THAT deaf. He did, because I trained him to do that.
    I’ve heard of program-trained guide dogs that took their blind owners right into traffic. Beautiful manners. The dog was never actually proofed for guiding ability with a blind dog trainer before being partnered. That’s a professional organization run by 100% sighted, nondisabled people. Oh the stories I could tell about the OTHER side of the fence.
    In the interest of society, service dogs should be excused from working in public if they display aggression or poor handling. And that’s in the ADA.

    It matters not if somebody was paid to train the dog; what really matters is whether the handler-dog team is trained and capable of working together in public.

    That said, I think Mr. Gonzalez has a long way to go.

  114. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Buran Wow I never knew there was that kind of hate and disgust in the gamer community about deaf people. I have severe hearing loss in one ear and moderate loss in the other from my time in the Air Force. I actually use the subtitles a lot, I can hear most of the effects but my main area of hearing loss is in the conversational level. People get so bent out of shape if they have to speak louder when I ask. I have even been accused of lying about my disabilities, I have a very small hearing aid and long hair so it is easy to miss.

  115. outsdr says:

    A few months ago I was doing research for the hotel I work for, as we were having a number of people show up with “comfort” animals and claiming they were protected by the ADA and we were required to allow them to stay (it’s a pet-free hotel). Doesn’t it say in the ADA that service animals are expected to exhibit a certain level of behavior and that if they are disruptive or misbehaved that they can be asked to leave, or if they cause damages the owner can be charged for those damages?

  116. trollkiller says:

    @outsdr: Yes look here [www.ada.gov]

  117. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    My problem with stories like this is that DILALRDS didnt kick him out… it isnt like there is a corporate policy that only blind people can have helper animals in the store. This is some jack-ass manager who made this ridiculous decision. Also for what its worth, his being an Iraq vetran is irrelevent. Handicapped is handicapped… there are no levels to handicapped entitlement.

    A appreciate his service, but I dont like it when stories are dramatized by catch phrases and things of that nature.

  118. dantsea says:

    Remember the days when the only 100+ comment wank to be had at Consumerist was Starbucks wank and check-your-receipt wank? My, we have moved into an age of abundance.

  119. DDKD says:

    As one trained, qualified and certified to use a service dog, I am dismayed to see the comments and judgements made here regarding this pathetic situation inflicted upon a disabled Veteran who served his, and your, country (including those that reside in the state of Texas) for 18 years. People really need to get some FACTS regarding ADA regulations of service animals. Please allow me to provide you with some links where those of you who are actually interested in learning more about service animals may peruse the laws and guidelines for yourself, hopefully alleviating some of the “misinformation” expressed here.

    From your own Governor on behalf of Texas:
    [www.governor.state.tx.us]

    From the Department of Justice:
    [www.usdoj.gov]

    From the ADA (American Disability Act):
    [ada.gov]
    [ada.gov] (several videos for those interested)

    Regarding the use of service animals by Veterans (take note that you will be seeing more and more of this for brain trauma, PTSD, lost limbs, etc:
    [www.reuters.com]

    I, too, was denied access with my service dog at a restaurant in the town of Shamrock, Texas, just last Monday, December 17, 2007. My husband and I were driving to our home state after welcoming my son home to Fort Bliss (El Paso), after he had spent 13-1/2 months deployed with the US Army in Iraq. I was denied service and treated rudely by an employee, the owner of the restaurant refused to serve us also, and I was told I had to leave by the Shamrock Chief of Police when I called for help (as instructed to do on your Texas Governor’s website for service animal regulations).

    I carry pamphlets of all the ADA laws, and the “Police Chief,” in his ignorance would not even look at them. He should have advised the owner of my right to access, or cited her with a denial of access which results in a $300.00 -$1,000.00 fine in the state of Texas. Instead, I was told by an “officer of the law” that they had the right to refuse service to anyone. WRONG! READ THE LAWS!

    Service dogs perform many functions for people that might not be noticed by those that are not aware. They will alert to their diabetic owner’s change in blood sugar, preventing a diabetic coma. They can forewarn their owner of a seizure or convulsion coming on, get them to a safe place, and even push the button on a special phone for 911, or get help in other ways. They can retrieve medication and water bottles when needed, telephones to call for help and other emergency items. They can be trained to brace for their owners in walking, getting up from a sitting position in a chair or after a fall. They can pick up things dropped, pull a wheelchair, open a door, turn on a light switch, guide a young autistic person so they may actually attend school, as well as bring them out of their shell. The list goes on and on-they are amazing partners who provide a service, recognized by the medical community, for their owner, allowing for more independence and safety.

    Ironically, 10 minutes before I was denied service at the Mitchell Family Restaurant in Shamrock, I fell off of a step down curb type of area, that was neglected being painted yellow in front of the Shamrock art deco landmark. Because my auto-immune diseases have affected my joints to where they are weak and constantly in pain, as well as caused muscle ataxia and peripheral neuropathy, I had to use my service animal to brace in front of me so that I could gradually push myself up. This is only one of the functions she performs for me.

    Couldn’t everyone just get along and help one another? That’s what my service dog does for me. PLEASE read the laws before you speculate, criticize, jump to conclusions or condemn anyone who has the need of a service dog to become more mobile and independent. I have read or heard of numerous situations of legitimate service dog teams being denied access, and more-downright discrimination as I experienced in Shamrock. We can’t punish 90% of service dog teams because of 10% who may not be legit. The owners are liable for any damage done by their service animal, and if the animal does not behave in a manner expected of a service animal, then yes, they may be asked if they would like take out service.

    Should you come across a service dog team, feel free to ask, “Is that a service dog?” From there, you may by law inquire as to what functions the animal performs for the person, however you would be breaking the law by asking what disability or medical condition a person has. We want to talk about our service animals and educate people as to their benefits and the laws surrounding them. We just don’t want to be shamed, treated rudely, denied service, told to leave, discriminated against, and treated like we are doing something wrong. Would anyone?

  120. KJones says:

    That Dillard’s store manager is a dullard.

  121. trollkiller says:

    @DDKD: Instead, I was told by an “officer of the law” that they had the right to refuse service to anyone. WRONG! READ THE LAWS!

    Yes the officer was an asshat for not looking at your piece of paper. But he is correct in Texas you can refuse service to anyone for any reason with minor exceptions that are hard to prove. You say he refused because of the dog, he will say he refused because he did not like your attitude, he wins. Example: “When I told her no dogs allowed she whips out this piece of paper and yells ‘it is a service dog you frikkin moron’, so I refused service and told her to leave.”

    Secondly refusing a service animal is a misdemeanor. Police will not generally arrest on a misdemeanor unless they see it happen. You would need to go to the DA and press charges yourself.

    Question: Was your dog properly harnessed or leashed in a manner that would show it is a service dog?

    Before you answer you may want to read the Texas law on a disabled persons responsibilities and the section below it titled PENALTIES FOR IMPROPER USE OF ASSISTANCE ANIMALS. Both sections talk about harnessed or leashed service animals. Interesting note under the improper use statute is the reference to harnesses and leashes commonly used on service animals. This tells me the legislators had a particular type or types of restraints in mind when they wrote the law. If your dog was not properly marked, I would argue the manager had no way of telling.

    If you are going to be in Texas I suggest you carry the Texas law regarding this issue. A local cop does not have jurisdiction to enforce the ADA. Before you do make sure you and your dog are qualified to be covered by the Texas law.

    While we are at it, why is it so hard for disabled people to properly dress their service dogs? Are you ashamed of your disability and don’t want anyone to know but will use that same disability to get “special” treatment?

    Before you blast me I have a disability that is covered by the ADA. I am given special consideration at work when it comes to this disability. I don’t need a service animal but I could probably come up with an excuse for one. I want a monkey.

    Sorry if this seems harsh but you come off in that post like you have a chip on your shoulder and are spoiling for a fight. If you came off that way to the manager he may have just not wanted to deal with you.

    Tell your son we thank him for his service. I have a son-in-law that is scheduled to go over in a couple of months. My step daughter is concerned but trying not to let it show.

  122. DDKD says:

    I am the husband of “DDKD” and would like to respond to TROLLKILLER. I was present at the restaurant where this occurred. My wife, an educated professional, behaved in an entirely appropriate manner, never once raising her voice, not using any profanities, and had no attitude other than explaining the terms around the use of her certified service dog, and getting something to eat. Initially she explained to the employee who denied her access that her dog was a service animal, not a pet. She further clarified in a professional manner that the dog was certified and covered under ADA regulations and was legally allowed to accompany her into the restaurant. She was still denied, and another employee stated, “Unless that’s a seeing-eye dog, we don’t have to let you in.” UNTRUE.

    As a disabled person yourself, I am amazed at the amount of ignorance you display. While the law does NOT require it, my wife’s dog IS fully harnessed (body harness), wears her certification in a see-through pocket clearly visible on the top of the harness, and behaves as a service dog is trained to behave. This almost two years old dog was trained for 1-1/2 years with an agency who specializes in training such animals. Additionally, recipients for service dogs are fully scrutinized, and must have medical documentation to ensure they are qualified and eligible. They also must train at the agency for a required number of hours with their service dog, and cover a multitude of tasks. Then, they must pass a test for certification, that entails and entire day of observation and testing, covering over 150 miles of driving to visit the prison where the dogs were obedience-trained, having lunch at a restaurant, and shopping at a mall – all as a service animal team. Finally, the animals are skill-tested in this public environment, to make sure their surrounding and tempting events will not distract them.

    The cop in question obviously did not want an “outsider” disrupting his little town. He said for us to “Hurry up, everyone in this place sees what is going on.” He was not interested in helping us be able to eat lunch, let alone attain justice. Apparently, neither are you.

    As a person with a disability, you should be ashamed of yourself! You come across as the disabled person’s equivalent of Uncle Tom of the days of overt racism. I suppose you believe that Martin Luther King just had a “chip” on his shoulder. When are you going to join the 21st century?

    As for “coming up with an excuse” for a service animal, I suggest you think clearly about your need. If you qualify, you should get one. They offer remarkable assistance to people in need. I would argue against a monkey, however. You don’t need TWO monkeys in the house.

  123. trollkiller says:

    @DDKD: Hmm hubby looks like I touched a nerve. Go back and read my post.

    I gave an example of what a manager would/could tell a cop to justify his refusal of service, you seem to have taken it on yourself that the example was my take on your situation and an accusation. I never questioned the validity of your wife’s claim.

    Texas law DOES require that your service animal be properly harnessed or leashed.

    [tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us]
    Sec.A121.005.RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.A (a) person with a disability who uses an assistance animal for assistance in travel is liable for any damages done to the premises or facilities by the animal.
    (b)A person with a disability who uses an assistance animal for assistance in travel or auditory awareness shall keep the animal properly harnessed or leashed, and a person who is injured by
    the animal because of the failure of a person with a disability to properly harness or leash the animal is entitled to maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction under the same law applicable to other causes brought for the redress of injuries caused by animals.

    In this case Texas law trumps federal law. It does not matter what the ADA allows. Besides under the ADA your wife may not have an actionable complaint it appears under Texas law she may.

    Section 308 Enforcement.
    [www.dol.gov]
    (B) Potential violation.–If the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that–
    (i) any person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or
    practice of discrimination
    under this title; or

    (ii) any person or group of persons has been discriminated against under this title and such discrimination raises an issue of general public importance, the Attorney General may commence a civil action in any appropriate United States district court.

    He shoots, he scores.

    Like I said in my post that you obviously did not understand, cops will not usually arrest on misdemeanor charges unless they witness the crime.

    In your case by the time the cop got there the crime was over and now you were being asked to leave on different grounds. You say it was a small town cop not wanting outsiders messing up his little world. You are most likely right. Take it up with the DA, you wife will need to file charges. (funny I said that in the earlier post too)

    Are you attempting to compare your wife to Martin Luther King? Wow! Your wife was not discriminated against, your dog was. Let me know when a cripple is lynched just because he is a cripple. How dare you equate a DOG not being allowed in a restaurant to racism. What the fuck is wrong with you?

    Yeah I think I was generous when I said that post made your wife look like she was spoiling for a fight. I see it runs in the family.

    Please read my post again, this time try to comprehend it. Another suggestion is stop reading the ADA factoids or the Texas governor’s website and try reading the ,laws.

    As for me the monkey would be a better choice, who wants toilet paper retrieved by a dog…. eww dog slobbers.

  124. DDKD says:

    @trollkiller:
    Trollkiller (interesting handle), hubby, here. Don’t worry, I read your post several times before responding. You made several errors in your response. First of all, Texas law does NOT trump ADA. For over 20 years, in addition to other regulatory requirements, assuring my employer’s compliance with ADA regulations was a significant portion of my responsibilities. I am quite familiar with the law and its intent. State law NEVER trumps federal law, unless it is of greater benefit to the affected individual. For example, federal law can state that a disabled worker may have 60-days unpaid leave of absence from work without fear of losing their job. State law can increase the leave period to 90-days, or even more, but cannot limit it to less than 60 days. Federal trumps state in all cases, unless the state law is more beneficial to the individual. According to Texas statutes:

    (i)An assistance animal in training shall not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer who is an agent of an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of persons who are disabled as reputable and competent to provide training for assistance animals, and/or their handlers.

    Where this departs from federal ADA regulations is the statement that an animal in training must be so through an “agent of an organization generally recognized by agencies involved…” In my experience with competing forces between federal and state regulations, federal always wins in a jurisdictional dispute. Here, clearly the Texas statutes are less beneficial to the affected individual. Therefore, if it were brought to a jurisdictional contest, the feds would win. Except for this one piece, Texas law and ADA are identical. There is no trumping by either.

    Also, I might point out that the law states that the service animal must be harnessed OR leashed-not both. The insertion of the word “OR” in the statute is primarily to accommodate those who need a harness with a handle (for instance seeing-eye dog, or those who need the dog for mobility purposes), and could not effectively utilize a leash. My wife is careful to ensure that establishments never have to question the validity of her dog’s status as a service animal. In her case, a harness, leash, and prominent display of the certification (not required by law) are used, although technically she would be legal to use only the leash.

    I also notice on the Governor’s website regarding service animals, that Texas appears to make discrimination against service animals a “criminal,” not a “civil” offense. I question that, but if it is true, in this case, Texas law would prevail over the feds-it is more beneficial to the affected individual. It may actually be a misprint in the Governor’s website, however. If it is criminal, then your comment that the police could “arrest” the discriminating individual would be correct. If it is only a civil infraction, which is true everywhere else that I know of, then the police can only cite the individual or business denying access, which bears a fine, but is a misdemeanor.

    You asked “Are you attempting to compare your wife to Martin Luther King?”
    No. I am not. I’m comparing you to Uncle Tom. Then you said,

    “Wow! Your wife was not discriminated against, your dog was. Let me know when a cripple is lynched just because he is a cripple.”

    What an inane comment!!! There is no separation between a disabled person and their service dog. They are certified as one team. If one is discriminated against, so, too, is the other.

    You paint yourself as some sort of expert in this area. You arrogant a**hole!! Your comment about lynching a cripple is at best stupid. Discrimination in all its forms is abhorrent, and one who has an identified disability should be more sensitive to that fact. In your earlier post, you indicated that your employer has “accommodated” your disability. That’s a wonderful thing for you, and for your employer. Obviously you are willing to accept an accommodation for yourself, but deny it to others. What hypocrisy!!

    By the way, DEAFDOGRTAINER is absolutely correct, when he states that self-training is often better training. Mr. Gonzalez did the right thing in putting the harness on his dog during his visit to Dillard’s. This alerts customers, employees and managers that the dog is a service animal. ADA recognizes dogs in training equally to those who are fully trained and certified. There is no requirement that the training be conducted by an agency or professional trainer (see earlier comment). He did nothing wrong, in fact he did everything right. He was inappropriately discriminated against based on the report of this incident. By the way, he has been training his dog with the assistance of DVD’s presumably provided by a recognized training organization, and may, in fact qualify as an “agent” of that agency as a result, making him fully compliant with Texas statutes, even if they would be countermanded by federal laws.

    Then you said,
    “How dare you equate a DOG not being allowed in a restaurant to racism. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

    What the f*** is wrong with YOU? It wasn’t just the DOG that was not allowed in the restaurant. My wife and I were also refused service.

    You, of all people, should be an advocate for the disabled. Discrimination is discrimination!! A disabled person who is denied service in a restaurant because of their service animal is the same as someone being denied service due to their race, or due to their religion, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. All discrimination should be fought and defeated, not embraced. Which side are you on?

  125. trollkiller says:

    @DDKD: First Texas law would trump ADA because 1) according to the Governor’s site refusal would be criminal. (I questioned that too but Texas is a funny place) 2) the way the law is written “will be” vs. “may be” guilty.

    Under ADA the restaurant would have to have a pattern of discrimination. Under Texas law once is enough. Greater benefit goes to the Texas law.

    The only place I used AND when referring to harnesses and leashes was the following. “Interesting note under the improper use statute is the reference to harnesses and leashes commonly used on service animals. This tells me the legislators had a particular type or types of restraints in mind when they wrote the law.”

    Nowhere did I state or imply the animal needed to have both.

    That tells me you did not fully comprehend the post again.

    You will want to read all the posts before commenting. You will see I defended the Vet’s ability to train the animal in several posts, but the way I read Texas law, the DVDs would not qualify him or the dog.

    Keeping the above in mind, the Dillard’s manager may have had the legal right to toss the guy because the dog was in TRAINING and not by a recognized organization. But once again if you go back over the posts you will see that I said the manager should not have tossed the Vet.

    I am sick and tired of every person that thinks some wrong has been done to them tying themselves to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. Every “oppressed” group is the new black.

    If you would have put the dog in the car would you have been able to eat at that restaurant? I think yes, so therefore it was the DOG discriminated against, not your wife.

    Your wife has something the blacks fighting for their rights did not have, she has the law to back her. There are no signs saying “Crippled Only”, there are no police turning a blind eye to a hanging. The comparison is apples and oranges. It is also appalling.

    You want to think of me as an Uncle Tom, that is fine. Just because I don’t think deaf people should get a handicapped parking space or someone should not be able to bring their pet into an establishment because it is a “comfort” animal or that service animals need to be marked.

    Just don’t ever compare a manager’s ignorance of the law and and the systematic segregation, discrimination and racism against blacks. Doing so cheapens the great effort and sacrifice that black and some whites endured and sometimes died for.

    You want discrimination to be ended when it comes to service animals, then raise a ruckus every time someone abuses the right. You want the discrimination to end, press for every service animal to be properly marked when out in public. You want the discrimination to end, put a stop to drive by litigation.

    And most importantly when you are denied service with your properly dressed dog, file a complaint to the proper authorities. Have you done that yet? What is the case number I would like to follow it.