Dunkin' Donuts Staffers Tells Blind Customer Her Guide Dog Isn't Welcome

A legally blind woman in Massachusetts claims that she was recently told twice in the same day that her guide dog was not allowed in her local Dunkin’ Donuts.

According to the woman, she went into the Dunkin’ Donuts to pick up a coffee and was told that her trained service dog was not permitted inside. She says she returned a few hours later with the dog’s trainer in the hope of speaking to the store’s manager and was told by yet another staffer that the dog was persona non grata.

The manager was unavailable and the customer says she her later attempts to contact the manager were to no avail. That’s when she decided to switch where she buys her coffee.

“I went into Starbucks and had no problem there,” she tells the Taunton Gazette.

“All employees should be trained about the federal and state laws regarding those with disabilities so that this doesn’t happen,” said the woman. “Blind people shouldn’t have to worry about not being allowed to go places because their guide dog isn’t allowed.”

A rep for Dunkin’ Donuts told the paper he was reviewing the tapes and claims that the store follows ADA regulations. “Everyone who comes in should feel comfortable,” he said. “Our employee apologized to [the customer] and she is always welcome.”

Blind woman says guide dog not allowed in Taunton Dunkin Donuts


Edit Your Comment

  1. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    Insert “Empire Strikes Back” tauntaun joke here.

  2. jaazzman says:

    How could they have followed ADA regs. if they didn’t let her in the store? Bet they’d let Paris Hilton with her stupid kickin dog in the purse into the store no problem…

    • unpolloloco says:

      The store follows them. The untrained employee does not.

    • Difdi says:

      It’s possible that they believed her to be faking, therefore their denial of her rights is somehow justified in their eyes, so they can claim total compliance under the ADA.

  3. GMFish says:

    A rep for Dunkin’ Donuts… claims that the store follows ADA regulations.

    It’s amazing that some people believe that the mere ability to say something automatically makes it true, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    • bsh0544 says:

      It’s also amazing how many people will believe something just because somebody said it. For example, a politician calling himself honest.

    • kc2idf says:

      Perhaps it would be better interpreted as “it is our policy to follow all ADA regulations”. It’s a training issue, really.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    The Dunkin Donuts employee was just ignorant. The person who refused to let her into her tattoo shop, however, is just ridiculous and should never have treated her that way. The law trumps your personal discomfort over having dogs around, sorry. The owner should have made accommodations since, you know, ADA is law.

    By the way, I read “Taunton Dunkin Donuts” as “Tauntaun Dunkin Donuts.”

    • common_sense84 says:

      “Last week, Maloney was refused service at Eyebrow Threading & Henna Tattoo because the owner claimed to be afraid of dogs.”

      Nothing wrong with that. The ADA cannot magically make people not be afraid of dogs.

      What is the point in her entering with the dog, if the owner has to hide? She can’t get any service if the owner can’t come near her. She should respect other people’s issues if she wants people to respect her issues.

      • rav3 says:

        one thing is fear of a highly TRAINED animal the other is the fact you cant SEE without said dog and should not be denied service, what? if the woman was afraid of african americans would you say the same thing?

        • hotcocoa says:

          At first I was going to blast you for trying to compare a dog and a person working as an aid, but you know what? You have a point.
          If a racist shop owner tried to ban a companion to a blind person from coming into her shop because of the color of the companion’s skin, it would be ridiculous and illegal.
          Since guide dogs are protected under the law, a shop owner can’t just deny service because she doesn’t like dogs or had a traumatic experience or because she’s allergic.
          Kind of sucks though if you really do have bad allergies or were mauled by a dog and don’t like them. But what can you do, I guess?

      • Mauvaise says:

        Being blind is an “issue”? Really?

        And unfortunately, the law is on her side. The “issue” of being blind does, 100%, trump someone else’s issue of being afraid of dogs.

        Service dogs, especially seeing eye dogs, have to prove their temperaments from puppyhood. When they are on harness, they are not pets and they don’t seek attention nor are they allowed to receive attention from people not their owners. They are working and are, quite frankly, the last dog anyone should fear.

        • aka Cat says:

          Unfortunately, phobias are beyond such logic as a well trained dog.

          But let’s switch it around, and say that the shop owner is severely allergic to dogs. Whose rights go first then: the person who needs the dog to get around independently, or the person who will go into anaphylactic shock in the presence of the dog?

          If there’s another employee who can handle the transaction then it can be worked out. But if there isn’t, it seems like everyone is screwed.

  5. pop top says:

    I’m waiting for the corporate apologists who pop up in every handicap issues thread to whine about how the ADA is unfair and that handicapped people should be happy that they’re allowed anywhere at all.

    • jbandsma says:

      I don’t even use a dog but I’ve told numerous times that if I can’t get up walk I shouldn’t inconvenience those who can by using my mobility scooter. Of course, I’m using nicer language. And I was once denied entry into an exhibit at a zoo unless I could park the scooter almost a block away and walk in. Mainly, I’ve just quit going places.

      • Dre' says:

        You should lawyer up.

      • MrEvil says:

        Unfortunately there are far too many folks whose only disability is the inability to skip a few meals who miraculously got their scooters. They ruin it for folks that legitimately need them due to genuine mobility impairments. I never question someone’s need of an assistive device unless they start jumping out of the seat to continue yelling racial epithets at someone.

        Personally as someone who used to weigh 400 pounds and could barely make it up 2 flights of stairs they need to give fat fucks a special licence plate that only permits them to park out in the back 40. Once I started parking out in the boonies, and stopped cramming my face so much I dropped a whole person’s worth of weight.

        That isn’t to say that my time being grossly overweight didn’t have a lasting effect on me. My right knee still makes an omnious pop and crack everytime I go up stairs, but I’m definitely able to make it up stairs without huffing and puffing.

    • runswithscissors says:

      I know – I was sure we’d get the usual “you don’t have a right to bring your smelly shedding dog everywhere… if you can bring your dog how come I can’t bring mine huh?” comments. Then again, I haven’t finished reading yet…

  6. Mike says:

    These are not the Donuts you are looking for.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Maybe that was the problem, since she technically couldn’t look for anything.

      • Mike says:

        RTFA. The article clearly says she rode in on a Tauntaun, therefore she was well aware of the Force, and she could have used the Force like Obi-wan had instructed her to when she was riding with him in the Millennium Falcon. She didn’t need sight, she had no excuse. I blame the OP.

  7. oldwiz65 says:

    Dunkin corporate believes in the ADA. However, the independent stores could usually care less.

    • katstermonster says:

      Sorry, I hate to be that guy (girl), but the phrase is “couldn’t care less.” They don’t care – if they COULD care less, they would. But they can’t.

      • Mike says:

        Reminds me of a quote I read the other day:

        Anyone nit-picking enough to write a letter of correction to an editor doubtless deserves the error that provoked it. -Alvin Toffler

      • craptastico says:

        that’s been a pet peeve of mine for decades.

  8. The cake is a lie! says:


    The whole service animal thing is just a rule BEGGING to be abused. I could put a parrot on my shoulder and tell them it is trained to detect the onset of seizures and remind me to take my medicine and they can’t do jack crap about it. It isn’t legal for businesses to ask for any proof of your service animal’s responsibility, so any animal I bring in can be called a service animal if I can just come up with something to say it services me for.

    • hypnotik_jello says:

      That abuse is pretty common? Got any statistics or data to back that up?

      • The cake is a lie! says:

        If my mother traveling with her bird back and forth from New Haven, CT to PA where my sister lives counts as statistics, then yeah… She uses the exact reasoning that I mentioned. She has no disability (unless you consider being a pathological liar a disability) which would require a service animal, but any time she needs to get her yappy dog somewhere or travel with her bird, she pulls the service animal law out of her pocket.

        All I can say is that it is an easy law to exploit and abuse. I think businesses absolutely need to respect the law and allow any animal identified by the customer as a service animal, but I can understand where the frustration would come in if people start abusing it. The business knows damn well that your Pomeranian isn’t a service animal, but there isn’t anything they can do about it if you tell them it is.

        • Tim says:

          That is most definitely not a statistic. That is an anecdote, practically the opposite of a statistic.

          • The cake is a lie! says:

            Why on earth would I have statistics on this? I pointed out that someone I know abuses the system on a regular basis and has received zero friction from it, so I assume that others are able to exploit the same loophole. If you can’t use your imagination on this, then whatever. I’m not a reporter and I don’t owe statistics to anybody since I didn’t actually claim any percentages or averages or anything else to suggest I would have them. I’m just saying the loophole is there and unethical and dishonest people will exploit it. If you want statistics then go take a survey.

            • pop top says:

              Your mom is unethical and dishonest? That’s not very nice to say about your own mother…

            • RandomHookup says:

              Then all you had to say was “I don’t have the statistics in my back pocket, but here’s what I’ve seen personally…”

          • SonicPhoenix says:

            Irrelevant. His argument was not that it was a common occurance, only that it is an easily abusable law. Giving an example of such is perfectly vaild support for this argument.

          • borgia says:

            Anecdote-a short account of a particular incident or event of an interesting or amusing nature, often biographical

            statistic-a numerical fact or datum

            1. a single piece of information, as a fact, statistic, or code; an item of data.
            2. Philosophy .
            a. any fact assumed to be a matter of direct observation.
            b. any proposition assumed or given, from which conclusions may be drawn

            Considering that is 10-2Graphics statement can be considered a direct obersevation and therefore a datum and furthermore a statistic as well as an anecdote, you TCama,
            are wrong.

        • Billy says:

          “it is an easy law to exploit and abuse”

          Yeah. Lots of laws are like that.

      • erratapage says:

        Who needs statistics? Just talk to any disabled person with a service dog. My stepson had a service dog and had problems once a month or more.

    • 3skr1mad0r says:

      So are you suggesting we shouldn’t let any service animals into establishments because some may fake it?

      • The cake is a lie! says:

        No, but I am saying the law needs to be examined. Once the rottweiler owners of the world realize they can take their dogs with them anywhere they want as long as they come up with a bogus condition the dog helps them with, all hell will break lose. I know I don’t want one next to me at the local steakhouse.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          The ADA has been on the books for 20 years and people have had service dogs for way longer. What makes you think we’re on the cusp of widespread abuse if it hasn’t happened already?

          • The cake is a lie! says:

            What makes you think we are on the cusp? I didn’t say anything like that. I just said it is a law begging to be abused. Anytime you have a law with such wide open loopholes I think you are going to get people abusing it. I think most people can find ways to keep their pets that they can’t seem to be without in the car when going into establishments that don’t allow them. However, if someone wanted to be an ass and bring their mean dog who barks and bites at anyone who looks at it wrong into a restaurant, then they could easily do it. Why they would do it is beyond me, but I’m just saying that they could. You don’t want to be the passenger on the train next to my mother and her squawking bird. They don’t allow pets on trains for a reason…

            • DarthCoven says:

              kb01 is pointing out that in the 20 years the ADA has been on the books this widespread abuse you are claiming is bound to happen, hasn’t happened. yes you’re going to get isolated incidents, but by and large “all hell” has not broken loose.

            • ElizabethD says:

              A mean dog that barks and bites very clearly is NOT a trained service animal. If I were a store owner, I’d have no problem ejecting said dog (and owner).

            • jbandsma says:

              Funny, I’ve taken trains, busses and trolleys in Europe with other people’s dogs with no problems. You just have to buy them a kid’s ticket. And you keep ignoring the FACT that the ADA -does- allow a business owner to eject any service animal that is aggressive, unruly or deemed unsafe. So your assertion that nothing could be done about a ‘mean’ dog being brought into an establishment is just a strawman.

        • DarthCoven says:

          oh noes! somebody might come close to you with a rottie! THE HORROR.

          • The cake is a lie! says:

            You know what I mean. Animals not trained as service animals are much different. I’m not rising to the bait. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you are useless.

            • DarthCoven says:

              a Rottweiler doesn’t need to be trained as a service animal to be a well behaved pet.

              i see what you’re doing though, trying to stereotype all rottweiler owners as thugs who train their dogs to be vicious.

              sorry, that’s not how it works.

        • sirwired says:

          Well, the ADA DOES allow the service animal to be ejected if it is disruptive or unsafe. So a yappy, agressive, dog that poops all over the floor or a Parrot that starts flying all over the room can most certainly be ejected.

      • Chaosium says:

        Yes, they need to be registered.

        • suez says:

          Why do you assume they aren’t registered? And are you proposing all disabbled people with servic animals be stopped at the door to be carded?

    • 3skr1mad0r says:

      You know, there are actually service rats and miniature horses. Now those would keep me from going into an eatery.

    • scratchie says:

      Hell, yeah! She probably wasn’t even blind! Faker!

      • danmac says:

        Yeah! According to the article, she’s only legally blind. She’s probably just a fucking squinter!

      • runswithscissors says:

        Here’s the test: we silently throw a brick at her face, and if she dodges then she was a HUGE PHONY!!!

        But to be fair, if she doesn’t dodge then she can bring her supposed “service dog” in with her.

    • Mike says:

      I tell people my Tauntaun is a service Tauntaun. I have been getting away with it for years.

    • sniega says:

      You know, I have a self trained service dog. Well, I did, he died, I’m training my next one. I have lived in two major metropolitan areas, and I’ve only rarely seen other service dogs out and about. Yeah, some people will try to get their dogs passed off as service dogs, but honestly? There isn’t any blatant widespread abuse of this. And until the government is going to start providing us service animals (they cost about 30k a year to train, when you add in all the costs) they way they do in the UK, then this is the best system available for it.

  9. menty666 says:

    I want to know how a rational person can’t be aware that service animals are permitted in businesses.

    • Grabraham says:

      Same level of rational people who cannot determine how much change you should get for a $6.37 purchase if you hand them $20.50 without a cash register telling them ;)

      • Scoobatz says:

        More irrational is the person offering $20.50 for a $6.37 purchase. There is no logical reason to do this.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          really? because all the years i worked as a cashier, that happened all the time. a dime and three pennies back is lighter to carry than 2 quarters and three pennies.
          or they want to minimize the amount they feel obligated to drop in the tip jar.

        • Grabraham says:

          If I leave the 2 quarters in my pocket, I end up with $10, (3) $1’s and 7 coins in my pocket
          If I give them the 2 quarters, I end up with $10, (4) $1’s and 4 coins in my pocket

          I like carrying dollar bills more than carrying coins why is that illogical ?

          • Scoobatz says:

            Sorry, that didn’t come out right. I meant that I would have instintively paid $21.50 (or $22) so I didn’t end up with $14 in return. Nothing worse than having $20 worth of singles end up in your wallet at the end of the day.

      • spindle789 says:

        The best part is when they pause for a second, hand you back the quarters and then give you change for the $20.00.

    • yevarechecha says:

      Seriously. Even on the DC Metro, which is full of dumb, belligerent employees who freak out at the sight of an illicit water bottle, they are completely accepting of service animals. I rode next to a man over the summer who had a guide dog in a marked harness and nobody batted an eyelash. Aside from making sure they didn’t step on its paws, people totally ignored it. And it was a gorgeous, beautifully behaved dog, too. Everyone obviously knew what it was and what it was for and that it should be left alone.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        On one of the metro blogs, there’s a photo of a guy whose service dog was lying down under the seat. All you could see was a tuft of tail and a paw. They’re so good at being inconspicuous.

  10. SonarTech52 says:

    How does she know that she was IN a Dunkin Donuts? How does she know the people speaking to her were employees?

    hehe i kid, i kid..

  11. kataisa says:

    Stories like proves there’s a complete lack of proper training of employees nowadays.

    Everywhere I go, not just Dunkin Donuts, I get the feeling that many of these kids are literally thrown behind the counters and are expected to know what to do. They clearly don’t know, and customer service has been suffering to the point where it’s now non-existent, we may as well be in France.

    It’s impossible to get any of them to listen to your order the first time around, and no matter how often you repeat it they still manage to screw it up.

    I doubt very much any employee in that particular DD knows anything about ADA laws and guide dogs.

    Training, training, and more training is needed. Our anti-intellectual society is costing us in more ways than one.

    • KrispyKrink says:

      Training? Maybe on some levels. The problem is these things are the basics they should have learned in school, before they got the job. When I was in school a few decades ago we were taught actual skills we needed to live in a working world. These days my friends kids are taught to write fake citations every time someone takes a hot shower, then go cry in a corner about how hot water is killing all the animals before they take their school mandated Ritalin.

    • Disappointed says:

      I can tell you that when I started my job as a sales associate at a major clothing store, I got no training whatsoever. Most of the things that I learned I either picked up myself, or learned from other employees. My manager spent literally 5 minutes showing me how some features of the cash register worked.

  12. crister says:

    i guess i was lucky in that the only problem i ever had with my guide of 12 years was getting on a continental airlines flight from the bay area to los angeles. some nasty ticket agent was giving me lip about the dog, but it finally got resolved when the flight crew busted out some regulations book pointing out to her in writing what i was telling her abut service animals and accessibility. i sent a letter of complaint to corporate and got one of those apologetic letter saying that the employee was being retrained to deal with these issues. blah, blah… along with a $200 voucher for a future flight. never bothered using it though.

  13. areaman says:

    I think it stinks that some people perceive having a service animal being in conflict with running a doughnut shop or tattoo shop. These people are not good business people. People have to feel at least a little welcome to spend money at businesses.

    From a global view a big difference between SBUX and Dunkin is SBUX hires and trains people who are/will be good communicators (and pays them pretty well for a coffee shop jobs with health benefits for 20 hr work a week(I believe?)). At Dunkin, I imagine their hiring practices are in line with stores like MacDonald’s, BK, KFC, Taco Bell, etc.

    • Phineas says:

      I’ve worked for both Starbucks and a chain fast food and the difference in training and pay is amazing. It is still below a livable wage, their much-tauted health care plan is a myth, and they aren’t always very nice to their employees, but the training and culture put out employees are far and above even the top rung fast food kid.

      • majortom1981 says:

        Must be different here on long island. The dunkin donuts employees made sure to remember me and are nice and always ask me why i chose a specific drink or why i changed my order. They also tend to try to tal kto me

        Starbucks about 4 doors down are teens who dont care about anything who get nasty when yo uitnerupt them texting their friends .

  14. paoloacca says:

    do u expect an 8-9 dollar employee to be trained on every federal and state regulation and provide you decent service?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I do, actually. It has nothing to do with how much you’re paid, but about how you’re expected to comply with federal law. This isn’t something brand new – the ADA was first signed in 1990. And it’s one of the fundamental things all employees should be taught on their very first day.

    • pop top says:

      For something as important as the ADA, yes I do.

    • Rain says:

      Considering the law is older than the high school students working there…

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i don’t expect a dunkin donuts employee to be making that much. i used to work there and i got paid just slightly over minimum wage at the time: $4.10 for working overnights and decorating the donuts. they considered decorating the donuts to be a skilled job, just under the level of the bakers. everyone not a baker or a skilled job got minimum wage.
      i quit when they denied my request for a raise to $4.15

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        oops, sorry, i didn’t realize MA had a higher minimum wage than federal. so yeah, maybe they would be making $8 [MA minimum wage]

    • senior chick says:

      These clerks are lacking common sense. Surely they’ve seen signs before that training dogs are welcome unless they don’t go anywhere. You even see these signs on public transportation. Being ignorant is no excuse.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      No, but I don’t expect them to just have crawled out from under a rock after having been born yesterday on a turnip truck, either. Some things are just common sense and can be gleaned simply by living in our culture and paying attention.

  15. KrispyKrink says:

    So the DD “rep” claims that the ADA laws state that DD is exempt from ADA laws?

  16. Big Mama Pain says:

    Since this was in a Mass Dunkins, my question is how in the hell she understood what the employee was saying in the first place. The ones in Mass employee people that barely know how to speak English.

  17. Suburban Idiot says:

    She had to be told twice? What? Is she deaf, too?

  18. bitplayer says:

    Don’t know about this lady’s situation but people are obnoxious with their dogs. If that dog craps in the store who’s supposed to clean it up? One would hope a guide dog wouldn’t but how would we as employees know that.

  19. jpdanzig says:

    She can do much better than frequent a DD. Any local establishment probably has better coffee, better doughnuts — and better service!

  20. DjDynasty-Webology says:

    What would they prefer her to use? a Seeing Eye Mexican? We’ve got enough of them in this country, give every blind person their own illegal alien on a leash.

  21. Minneapolis says:

    Oh you nasty! With your service animal!

  22. nakkypoo says:

    The employees that turned her away should both be fired, as well as the manager who was unavailable that is presumably responsible for training the employees. There is no excuse for anyone in the US not knowing that guide dogs are permitted anywhere people are permitted. You shouldn’t even have to be trained on this, this should be basic knowledge for anyone, retail employee or not.

  23. Urgleglurk says:

    Just some ignorant minimum wage slaves.

  24. anarkie says:

    Ok, she’s getting her eyebrows threaded and getting a tattoo. Both of these are completely visual items (well, I’m sure you can feel the tattoo). Strange. But also, you can understand the shop owner’s point of view. There they are with someone’s dog, in a situation that the owner might easily say “ouch” which can set a dog off as the owner being hurt.

    Also, from the comments in the article, someone wanted DD corporate to send her a written letter of apology. WRITTEN letter. Phone calls and emails work best (assuming the woman has a proper TTS system)

    • Venality says:

      You know, you’re right! I bet that blind people also never get their hair cut, or would wear fashionable clothing either! Why would they care about their appearance to others, they can’t see it!

  25. majortom1981 says:

    I could be wrong but all the service dogs being trained here at the library use aspecial handle connected to the collar. The womans dog that is pictured in the link has a regular leash. That right there would tell me she could be faking it.

    I am basing this by the group who trains seeing eye dogs. I have always seen them with that special handle and not a regular leash.

    • Cactus Wren says:

      If you look carefully at the picture you can see that the dog is wearing a harness (“harness”, not “handle”), but the owner is holding the leash. Dog guides wear both: when the owner is holding the harness it’s a signal that the dog is “on duty”.

      But perhaps I should bow to the superior wisdom of someone who doesn’t know that “Seeing Eye Dog” is a registered trademark of The Seeing Eye, Inc., and thus should be capitalized.

  26. Groanan says:

    Guide animals should be guide robots by now, or we should have cybernetic eyes that cost around as much as having a dog.

    Forcing food sellers to allow fuzzy shedding animals into their establishments is just silly, there has to be a better way.

  27. tekmiester says:

    I get sick of the stories. Why is it news that some minimum wage employee doesn’t now the nuances of the Americans with Disabilities Act? Really it’s not newsworthy. The title of these stories always seem to make it sound like a corporate policy. Thank heavens the employee wasn’t black. The headline would be “Black people hate guide dogs”.

  28. Andy S. says:

    “She says she returned a few hours later with the dog’s trainer in the hope of speaking to the store’s manager and was told by yet another staffer that the dog was persona non grata.”

    Shouldn’t that be: “… cannis non grata?”

  29. HarleySD says:

    I am a disabled person who uses a service dog, and some of these comments are appalling! Service dogs are used for way more than guiding the blind now, and no, robots couldn’t do the job. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, service dogs do not have to wear a vest, harness, or any other kind of identification. A business may ask 2 questions: 1) Is this a service dog necessary for a disability? 2) What is an example of a task that the dog does to mitigate the disability. If both answers can be answered, the team can not be denied access. There are very very few exceptions. Only private clubs, churches, and the sterile departments of a hospital may deny access.

    As of March 15, 2011, there will be no more service parrots, pigs, cats, or any other animal other than dog. The definition of service animal has been changed to be defined as service DOGS only. There is an exception for mini horses, but only if their size and weight can be accommodated, and access is not guaranteed.

    Yes, I expect all employees that deal directly with customers to be educated on the law. If they try to deny me access, I will not stand down, will not leave and will call the cops!

  30. whiskeyblood says:

    This is why guide dogs should also be trained to be attack dogs that rip idiotic coffee shop workers’ testicles from their bodies at the mention of a specific word spoken by the blind person. Had I been in the shop and witnessed this happen I would have purchased a large hot coffee and poured it on the worker.

  31. justmom2 says:

    They are reviewing the tapes…not only did they break the law by not letting her in with her service dog…but now they want to make sure she is lying???