Ann Taylor Tells Blind Woman Her Guide Dog Isn’t Allowed In The Store

Hey, retailers — it’s 2012, and if you don’t know that a service dog is a completely acceptable animal to be accompanying a customer in a store according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, you really need to update your employees. And yes, we mean you, Ann Taylor.

Consumerist reader Natalie’s mom, Becky, has a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. She sees about 5% of what is normal so she uses a guide dog, and as such, is dependent on her service dog, Cricket, to get around, especially when she’s on her own. She loves shopping at Ann Taylor, but had an unfortunate experience with an employee who told her she wasn’t allowed to be in the store with her dog.

Natalie directed us to Becky’s blog, “Cruisin’ with Cricket,” where she detailed her recent upsetting experience at a newly-opened Ann Taylor store at her local mall. Her husband, Steve, had dropped her off and was finishing a conference call on his phone in the car.

Cricket and I navigated into the store. I was so excited. Unfortunately, I was greeted by a clerk with her first words indicating I needed to leave the store with my dog. I politely explained that she was a guide dog and allowed to be here. She indicated again dogs were not allowed and she would need to talk to her store manager. I began to feel like my exciting find of the Ann Taylor store was not going so well. Unfortunately, the manager also was not too helpful and indicated that dogs were not allowed.

I knew there were other people there as well, and I felt really alone. No one stood up and said, this is a guide dog she can be in this store. I again explained she was a guide dog and allowed to be here. At this point, I found myself just wanting to leave and go to another store where I was welcome. I turned and said, Cricket outside. It’s not been the easiest of past few weeks and I couldn’t do anymore.

I walked out feeling pretty sad. One of the clerks came out after me and said she was sorry, she liked dogs. I explained that it isn’t about whether one likes or doesn’t like dogs. Cricket is my guide dog and thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act she is allowed to enter Ann Taylor and any other public place that we want to go. She is my eyes.

Becky met up with her husband, who returned to the store to explain the situation and that “they had also kicked out a very loyal, frequent shopper who had a closet full of their clothes.” Becky ended up finding what she needed at another store, where her guide dog was accepted without a problem.

Natalie tells us Ann Taylor called later to apologize, but the damage was done. Becky said she was pretty shaken by the turn of events, but she’s maintaining a positive outlook on her ordeal. She adds that she’s happy to educate anyone she comes across about the roles of guide dogs, and even to show identification if it’s necessary. But, as she notes, and we wholeheartedly agree, being told to leave a store in 2012 because someone doesn’t realize what a guide dog is, is pretty upsetting.

She finishes her tale on an optimistic note:

I would love to turn this difficult experience into an opportunity to educate those at Ann Taylor so this experience doesn’t happen for anyone else.

In the end, I have had many more positive experiences at Ann Taylor than this discrimatory one. However, I hope they will use this experience to educate their employees of the role of service animals. They are not only welcome in their store but by law required to be allowed in their store. If you have experienced this type of situation, you understand indeed what a traumatizing experience it is — and this time to be alone was even more challenging.

Disappointed in Ann Taylor [Cruisin’ With Cricket ~ The Journeys Of Becky And Her Guide Dog, Cricket]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Sarek says:

    How ignorant are these people, especially the store manager, who should have learned this in his training? Guide dogs, when wearing their harnesses, have been permitted in stores for *decades*, way before ADA. Geez, I knew this as a little kid.

    It might have been interesting (though traumatic) if the woman had said to the manager, “ok, call the police.”

    • rookie says:

      I stopped in to say just that. “Call the police, please.”

      • Patriot says:

        This isn’t a criminal matter. You can’t be arrested for turning her away

        • matlock expressway says:

          That’s not the point.

          The point is to have the employees to think you’re trespassing (by refusing to leave when asked), have them call the cops, and have the cops point out to them that they are a pathetic bunch of losers who can’t even understand the most basic point of law.

        • Difdi says:

          The OP could have been arrested for trespassing. But the thing is, seeing eye dogs are legally part of the blind person they guide, and being blind is a protected class. You can’t issue a trespass order to someone solely because they are a member of a protected class.

          So the result of calling the police would be (at least, the way things are supposed to play out) that the police point out the store is breaking the law, and refuse to comply with the trespassing complaint.

    • who? says:

      Thinking the same thing. Guide dogs for the blind have been around since before I was was born, and I’m guessing that I’m considerably older than the store manager. Looking at the pictures on the blog, it’s quite obvious that Cricket is a guide dog. How is it possible that the store manager has never encountered a guide dog before?

    • rdclark says:

      Living your normal daily life like you’re the standard-bearer for some cause can be… tiring. Not everyone has the personality or the stamina to be fighting all the time, always on the defensive. Especially when just living is a bigger struggle than it is for most folks.

      The ADA is supposed to help fix this very problem. I hope the blog post and resultant public noise results in prosecution.

    • longfeltwant says:

      In 1991, I could understand confusion about the new law. In 1994, all retail establishments should have long since gotten the memo. In 2012? ignorance at this point should be an immediate firing offense.

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      This is the 1st story about a service animal which was legit.

      • carlogesualdo says:

        I doubt it. I think the collective of commenters here likes to believe only service dogs for the blind are legit and others must be gaming the system.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Could she take civil action against the store and the manager? Yes, I mean name the manager in the suit personally along with the store.

  2. chefboyardee says:

    “She adds that she’s happy to educate anyone she comes across about the roles of guide dogs, and even to show identification if it’s necessary”

    So instead of leaving all upset, why not stand your ground and do that? Not blaming the OP here, I completely sympathize with what she’s feeling. However, while she may be shaken, and not want to shop there anymore that day, she’d be doing a major service for the next people in her situation if she would do what she says she doesn’t mind doing, and staying to educate them on their mistake instead of just leaving. I know she went back with the husband later, but that had significantly less impact than staying and raising a stink would have.

    I know a lot of commenters will disagree with the “raise a stink” idea, and that’s fine. Some people aren’t comfortable with that, and I can appreciate that. But personally, I would have made them play their hand. I’m not allowed in here with my dog? Gotcha. Then we’ll stay and continue to shop until you call the cops on us. Make a huge deal out of it. Let the other customers see what kind of morons work there. Teach them a lesson. Seriously. It’s 2012, there’s no excuse for ignorance (on the part of the Ann Taylor employees/manager) in situations like this.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Or better yet, she can threaten to call the police, then act on it if necessary. I’m not saying the police won’t eventually ask her to leave (because we’ve seen here they can be just as ignorant of the law) but she might actually find an officer than understand the law and put some pressure on the business. Plus, she’ll have an official record of the ordeal for legal proceedings.

      • oldwiz65 says:

        A legal record would be excellent, especially if the clueless cops arrested the woman for refusing to leave. Just picture, the woman’s attorney would be hopping with glee as he filed first a lawsuit against the store, then Ann Taylor corporate, then the police, then the town for having stupid cops. The woman would have so much fun.

    • Rose says:

      “I politely explained that she was a guide dog and allowed to be here. … I again explained she was a guide dog and allowed to be here. … One of the clerks came out after me and said she was sorry, she liked dogs. I explained that it isn’t about whether one likes or doesn’t like dogs. Cricket is my guide dog and thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act she is allowed to enter Ann Taylor and any other public place that we want to go.”

      How many more times is she supposed to explain that, exactly? Because I see three times here.

      • btrthnnothing says:

        Not to blame the OP, but just saying that a dog is a guide dog does not fully explain what a guide dog is to someone who does not know anything about them. I can see how just repeating this sentence without explanation or definition of guide dog would have no effect on the sales people and manager. Of course, a manager of a retail establishment should have already known what a guide dog is and the legality.

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          The issue is that the ADA is a well known thing. Retailers and other places that are open to the public all know good and well that a guide dog is allowed into the store.

          Guide dogs are also a well, very well, known occurrence. I mean they show up on kids shows, TV movies, cop shows, comedies…..

          If it really needed to be explained to these people, I expect the location will be restaffed or closed down shortly. ignorance on that level means that they all may actually be incapable of independent thought.

        • framitz says:

          All retail employees should already be well aware of ADA.
          Heck I don’t see customers EVER, and I’m very aware of it. It is a required training course.

    • erratapage says:

      She educated them. What was she supposed to do when they insisted she leave? Host a sit-in? Honestly, it’s probably not worth her while to stand up to a store clerk. She acted reasonably, and is getting the word out. That’s effective advocacy.

      • longfeltwant says:

        She wasn’t supposed to do anything; whatever she chose would be fine. For instance, if she wanted to be polite while also getting her clothing and educating the staff, she could have politely declined to leave, and waited for the staff to bumble their way into enlightenment.

    • bluline says:

      She might have refused to leave and challenged the store clerk to call the police. Just a suggestion.

    • framitz says:

      She acted as an adult and did the adult thing.
      She is having a major impact… She doesn’t need to act like an ass about it.

    • DarkPsion says:

      Personally, I would have gotten on the PA system and asked the manager to go find a big mirror, turn around and take a good long look as her ass, because it is about to be handed to her.

    • iesika says:

      She did explain the law to them, and explain what Cricket was there for and why they were allowed inside. She explained it to the associate and to the manager. Then she left and didn’t give Ann Taylor her money. She’s now raising a stink now in a polite and very public way. I don’t find any fault in her actions.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I want to hear about a person in this situation who just ignores the calls for their departure and continues shopping.

    So an employee says you can’t be there, cites why, and you know full well they are incorrect, why do you leave?

    If an employee said you can’t be there because you are black, would you just leave? Or maybe you might say you’re ignorant of the law and continue shopping.

    • chucklebuck says:

      I think once they ask you to leave you have to, else it’s trespassing and you get in trouble. But if they kick you out for having a guide dog, you leave to avoid the trespassing charge and then sue for violation of your rights under the ADA. Then THEY get in trouble.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        I’m not so sure about that. It’s a public store and she was there during business hours, they can’t just tell you to leave because you’re a woman, or because you’re black, or because you’re disabled and then call it trespassing if you don’t. Can anyone confirm this?

        • Bladerunner says:

          chucklebuck’s right. And also has a screen name that’s fun to pronounce.

          Though, it doesn’t hurt to have them call the cops to make a record of exactly why you’re being asked to leave, but you do have to leave. Of course, then you sue for gobs of money, and rightly so.

          • phsiii says:

            Yeah, you leave and wait outside the store for the police. You do have to vacate the premises, even if it’s because the owner is screaming racist threats at you.

            • RvLeshrac says:

              No, you do not. It is patently illegal for them to even make the request. You are under no obligation to follow the instructions of someone who is violating the law. Though, of course, for safety reasons, you may want to.

              Under the ADA, it is illegal to make the environment uncomfortable for them. It is illegal to ask them to leave. It is illegal to order them to leave. It is illegal to force them to leave.

              It *IS* perfectly legal to demand that they leave should the animal be a clear danger to others, but that’s highly unlikely, and you’ll need some damn good proof.

              • matlock expressway says:

                Don’t bother giving a citation to back up your claims.

              • carlogesualdo says:

                It may be “patently illegal” but that doesn’t stop people from doing stupid things. We read the stories here and we all know this better than anyone. If you refuse to leave, even if they’re just kicking you out for discriminatory reasons, you’ll give them a reason to find a legitimate excuse to level a trespass charge. Like this: “I asked her to leave, officer. She got belligerent with me, and I refuse to allow her on the property.” Notice no mention of a guide dog? Illegal or not, when cops get called to scenes like this, they inevitably go with the intent to defuse the situation, not settle a dispute. Which means they probably would have suggested the woman leave the store – in fact, probably would have worded their questioning in just such a way as to convince her she didn’t really want to be in there anyway. So it’s now up to the OP to hire a lawyer and sue. Did I mention lawyers cost money?

      • JonBoy470 says:

        WRONG! Nice try. I bet you’ll get it next time!

        The employees ejected the OP because of her assistance animal. The ADA’s assistance animal regulations exist to eliminate this possibility. The ADA gives the assistance animal an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to accompany its owner into any public place that the owner would otherwise be allowed to enter if she did not have an assistance animal.

        • chucklebuck says:

          WRONG! Nice try. I bet you’ll get it next time!

          It could very well be that I’m wrong. Even started my sentence with “I think . . .”. So did you really have to crank your asshole response knob to 11?

        • matlock expressway says:

          Try citing the fact that this is a valid defense to a trespassing charge, instead of being a pretentious ass, who (for all everyone else knows) might very well be wrong.

    • Elizabeth B says:

      It is also a matter of being around people who are rude. I wouldn’t want to be around them, and I wouldn’t want that store to have my money.

  4. Bog says:

    Simple – Refuse to leave and continiue to shop. Make them call the cops, or call the cops yourself. The police WILL usually give the store an education. Been there and done with that with a person I was with who had a guide dog. Store clerk squeaked like a chewtoy when the Sheriff’s depuity told she personally could get a few thousand dollar fine as well as the store.

  5. huey9k says:

    Yeah, I got your lesson right here, Ann Taylor… it involves a Judge, a gavel, and a $20 million judgement.

    Oh, and firing the stupid twats (yeah, I said it) who kicked protected service animal out of a store.

    • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

      Twat, in my opinion, is underused. And just sounds damn funny to me when you say it.

    • StarfishDiva says:

      That was a fabulous usage of the word!

      Fun Fact: When I was a kid I had a Tweety Bird blanket, and stitched into it were the words” I tawt I taw a putty tat”

      I’m also dyslexic, and would drag the blanket around reading it backwards.

      “tat eetup a wat I twat!”

      My mom did so many double takes, and I wan none the wiser.

    • ARP says:

      I do love that word. It’s too bad that it’s pretty risque’ in the US (UK tolerates a lot more).

    • JJFIII says:

      I think CUNT is a better word in this situation. TWAT is just too nice.

  6. Darury says:

    “Becky said she was pretty shaken by the turn of events” —

    While I appreciate it would suck, how sheltered of life do you lead that a sales clerk turning you away is enough to shake you up? Did they threaten to have your dog killed and you arrested if you didn’t leave immediately? The overly-dramatic impact of being inconvienced never ceases to amaze me.

    And yes, while it was an issue that shouldn’t have happened, it was not a life-altering moment since she found the clothes at another store.

    • qwickone says:

      I’m a pretty strong person, I think, but when I’m isolated and targeted, as she was in this case, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable and want to just run away from the situation. I have felt shaken up when I was isolated and targeted, especially when it’s 2-3 against 1.

    • Rose says:

      “While I appreciate it would suck, how sheltered of life do you lead that a sales clerk turning you away is enough to shake you up?”

      You obviously do not appreciate how it sucks, being a disabled person in an able-bodied world. Every time you enter a public space, you know that you can and probably will harrassed by someone, which is inherently stressful in and of itself. Being stopped by someone in authority, even if your papers are in order, is additionally stressful, and likely to leave you shaken up.

      “And yes, while it was an issue that shouldn’t have happened, it was not a life-altering moment since she found the clothes at another store.”

      I would imagine that being forcibly reminded that you’re both less-than and powerless to change that is, in fact, a life-altering moment.

    • rookie says:

      Simple experiment.
      Blindfold yourself for one day, twenty four hours. Test yourself in familiar and strange surroundings. Have someone you do not know tell you have to vacate the premises immediately, and then, if you care to, report back to us on your feelings… Just the way you feel…

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        We had to do the blindfold thing in elementary school, when we studied Helen Keller. It was a real bitch trying to eat lunch without being able to see it. Gave us a little bit of perspective.

    • RandomLetters says:

      Did you neglect to read all the OPs post? Specifically where she said, “It’s not been the easiest of past few weeks and I couldn’t do anymore.” I didn’t read her blog but she’s obiviously been having some bad times and was looking on this trip as a way to boost her spirits. So yeah, this could be a little bit distressing if she thought she was finally getting some lemonade only to find Ann Taylor was handing out more lemons.

    • MMD says:

      It’s not for you to say what a life-altering moment for another person may or may not be.

    • deadandy says:

      Nobody knows how much a person is suffering from a given stimulus. We know that a stimulus that barely troubles one person can crush another. We know that some are masters at hiding their pain while others are shameless and highly convincing exaggerators. People informed by the science of pain are very aware of their inability to estimate another’s suffering. The more expertise you have in this field, the humbler you become about estimating others’ pain. The less you know, the more confident.

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      Ignorant troll commenter is ignorant.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:


    • Aliciaz777 says:

      You’re an idiot. It has nothing to do with whether or not the OP lives a “sheltered life”. She was illegally discriminated against. Being discriminated against, especially in public in front of a bunch of people, would shake most people up. If I were on the OP’s shoes I’d feel the exact way she described feeling, and I’m sure a lot of other people would too.

      If this had happened to me, no matter how embarrassed I might feel, I most certainly would’ve called the police, then my lawyer. I hope the disabilities organization files a big fat juicy lawsuit against Ann Taylor on behalf of the OP and I hope Ann Taylor has to pay out the wazoo. Make an example out of them so other ignorant retail employees don’t try and pull the same stunt with other people with legitimate service animals.

    • bluline says:

      Wow…just wow.

      Total idiot.

    • suez says:

      Was your life-altering moment the time your mother dropped you on your head, or was that just a coincidence?

    • runswithscissors says:

      See the flood of people replying to you, telling you this was a stupid opinion and how wrong-headed you were for thinking/writing it?

      At this point you have a choice: Either society is wrong and you are the lone voice of reason, or everyone else is right and you are wrong.

      Guess what? It’s pretty much never “everyone else is wrong, I’m the only one who’s right”.

  7. Costner says:

    ” would love to turn this difficult experience into an opportunity to educate those at Ann Taylor so this experience doesn’t happen for anyone else. In the end, I have had many more positive experiences at Ann Taylor than this discrimatory one. “

    What a refreshing and positive attitude. I’m so happy to see her react in that manner rather than immediately saying she was hiring an attorney with plans to sue. Not only would an opportunity to educate these employees on ADA compliance and service animals help her during future visits, but it can help anyone else who visits that store with a service animal as well (and even other stores if these employees go elsewhere in the future).

    Bravo Becky. Bravo.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      What drives me nuts about this is that no one should need training; it’s a foregone conclusion that a service dog is allowed. There is no thinking needed, it’s just a fact. I can’t wrap my head around how someone does not know this. lol.

  8. mikedt says:

    By no means was the store’s actions acceptable, but to be “pretty shaken by the turn of events” seems to be a little over reacting. Don’t people just get mad any more? Do you really need to have long term emotional problems because you had to deal with an idiot? I can’t believe this is the first time she’s run into this, nor will it be the last. Either stand you’re ground and make the idiots feel like bigger idiots or get over it and go on your way.

    Does everything we do now need to be groundwork for a potential lawsuit?

    • sirwired says:

      She didn’t say she was scarred for life. She just said she was shaken by the encounter. Perhaps she’s somebody who just doesn’t like confrontation?

      And I doubt she “deals with it all the time”… seeing-eye dogs are probably the most famous and least-controversial service animal. Every retailer should be aware of the rules, and most are.

    • Rose says:

      Being a disabled person in an able-bodied world is inherently stressful. Every time you enter a public space, you know that you can and probably will harrassed by someone. Being stopped by someone in authority, even if your papers are in order, is additionally stressful, and likely to leave you shaken up.

      I didn’t see her say or imply that she would have long term emotional problems and it doesn’t seem like a lawsuit is even on her mind. Where did you get those ideas from?

    • MMD says:

      You’d prefer that she fly into a rage?

      It’s not for you to say what an acceptable emotional reaction is in this situation. Also, if you actually read what she wrote, you’d find a pretty sane, healthy and productive long-term outlook.

      • iopsyc says:

        but isn’t that what civilized society does, set norms for behavior? if a waiter gets stiffed on a tip we expect them to suck it up and face the fact that some customers are idiots. how much is it different that we expect people to face the fact that retail employees are sometimes quite stupid?

    • Cacao says:

      Letters describing mistreatment at an establishment must always include your emotional state. Always.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      Is there some unwritten rule here that *somebody* has to always argue against the OP’s position?

  9. sirwired says:

    I could understand confusion of the continually-evolving rules on emotional support animals, seizure alert animals, etc.

    But seriously? A problem with a guide dog for the blind? These, and the rules around them, aren’t exactly new.

    • pot_roast says:

      You can thank all of the people buying fake “Certifications” for their dogs just so they can bring them anywhere they feel like. Sadly, there are a *LOT* of people doing this. Fake “service animals” are a huge problem, and another section of the ADA that is very very easy to abuse. It is a frequently abused thing.

      This appears to be a situation of a legitimate service animal being refused, though.

      • sirwired says:

        I agree that there is a crazy number of people abusing the service animal rules. But a guide dog for the blind is pretty distinctive, and pretty easy to determine it isn’t somebody’s pet with a vest on.

  10. KrispyKrink says:

    It’s obvious the employees at that store knew exactly what they were doing. Flagrantly violating federal law simply for personal reasons. Unfortunately no amount of talk or education will change people like this, they will continue making up rules based on personal feelings of “I don’t like X, so I can do X no matter what”.

    The only way to enact proper change with people like that is a court of law resulting in heavy fines and or jail. Or a baseball bat to the face. Given that the latter is socially unacceptable and maybe unlawful, go with the first option.

  11. sparc says:

    sadly, this isn’t shocking to me at all. Just look at the article below this where Apple Stores aren’t selling to people born in Iran.

    Some people are just plain stupid….

  12. SkokieGuy says:

    How hard would it be to establish a national criteria and ID card. Could be issued be veterinarians and services that provide guide animals.

    In order to take advantage of special parking, you are required to obtain a permit, doing the same for service animals would save the users of these animals headaches and unreasonable denial of services.

    It might also reduce the (how big of a problem is it?) people who arbitrarily claim their animal is providing assistance when there is not a need.

    • CortJstr says:

      My girlfriend adopted a retired service dog when the owner went into hospice. The dog came with a harness and an ID card identifying my girlfriend as his handler.

    • dush says:

      Just say no to national ID cards.

    • Costner says:

      “Papers Please”

      The problem with this is you are picking on those with a disability and requiring them to prove they have a disability, while we don’t run around asking everyone else to prove they have valid ID or that they have the requisite amount of funds to be in that particular store or that they actually have children when they are shopping in the children’s department or that they actually have a reason to be using the motorized cart rather than pushing a cart like everyone else.

      Do you really want to get into a situation where we have to card people to prove their service animals are actually service animals? That could get ugly.

      • Bladerunner says:

        Yes, we do. Because there’s a lot of fraud in “service animals”, and no punishment or way to prevent it. So, a simple card that can be presented seems an easy and perfectly appropriate method of ensuring that the only people who get the privileges that we’ve extended the disabled actually go to the disabled.

        • pegasi says:

          I totally agree…. these people who cart precious little foo-foo around in a dog-stroller or purse or just plunk them in a GROCERY CART because they can’t bear to hear their little foo-foo whine for 5 minutes after they leave the house need to get a grip and train their dog to tolerate being left alone. They do just fine… if you train them!! People who have allergies, hate any kind of dog, or just don’t like little yappy ones, or have sanitation issues, don’t want to use a GROCERY CART you stuck your little foo-foo in because you couldn’t leave it at home.

          For heaven’s sake, hire a dog sitter, leave it with a neighbor, something. If it doesn’t have a certified assistance dog vest or harness etc – and/or an ID tag with its photo and the owner’s on the collar – it’s NOT one and the store staff should be telling people to take foo-foo home and come back later.

          I HATE it when people bring these little bitsy dogs that cannot possibly be assistance dogs – and aren’t wearing the ID vest of a certified therapy dog to public places and expect everyone to tolerate them in places these dogs have no right to be.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Really? When you have to have a handicapped plate or placard to park lawfully in a handicapped space? This rule is in place to keep lazy assholes OUT of the space reserved for the disabled. The card would serve the same purpose–establishing her dog’s legitimacy as a certified service animal. It’s designed to protect her rights and eliminate the fakers.

        This part of the ADA is horribly abused by entitled assholes who have to cart their stupid purse dogs everywhere they fucking go. I think certification of legitimate service animals is a great idea.

        Of course, then you have to educate all the idiots that yes, this is what the card looks like. Public service announcements can do that. So can a little bit of corporate training.

      • erinpac says:

        There is no reason it would need to identify the person or their disability – just the animal with an exception to the rules. Service dogs are also allowed to go places with trainers as well. That isn’t even as identifying as the handicap car tags are, which is also used to identify someone eligible for a reserved accommodation.

        A standard identification would avoid many of the complications caused by false service animals. Right now, many businesses aren’t normally allowed to have animals inside, are required to allow service animals inside, and have no reliable way to determine that. After they get several trouble “service animals”, it tends to get much harder on those with legitimate service animals. There are many ways it could be handled with little to no extra effort, either getting it when the dog is trained, or an extra tag with their license. Many people already get what documentation they can, to avoid problems in places like this, which is more work to put together with no standard option and less effective, as there is no standard version for anyone to recognize. Avoiding some of the store/business problems would probably go far beyond offsetting some the work involved in some form of standard animal registration, and something identifying these animals would help spread understanding and respect for what they do.

        Right now, a legitimate service animal and my friend’s dachshund that just ran amock on the farm through all the horse presents both have exactly the same thing available to get them in a store or restaurant – their owner’s word. It isn’t going to take many visits from the second to make a business very distrusting of such claims, and some will eventually ignore that they’re still required to let the animals in.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Yeah that’s what we need. More government programs, complete with the requisite bureaucracy and inevitable inefficiency, waste and corruption. Hooray for Government! Long live the King!

  13. Rocket80 says:

    This is right where you pull out your iphone, hit record and ask “I’m sorry, would you please say that again?” :)

    • crispyduck13 says:


    • blueman says:

      Yeah, those touch-screens on iPhones are fantastic for blind people.

      • bennilynn says:

        Actually, iPhones are one of the most blind-friendly smartphones on the market right now. My blind coworker was able to get his to work right out of the box, just about.

      • Janus, Should I laugh or cry? says:

        “Yeah, those touch-screens on iPhones are fantastic for blind people.”

        You’re revealing your ignorance.

        Not everyone who’s classified as blind is 100% blind. A friend of mine (a client of the state’s Division Of The Blind) has the largest Kindle with the font size maxed out so that she can read books. All the fonts on the computer are extremely large. Could my friend find the button on an iPhone? Yes, if given sufficient time or with prior training.

  14. ToddMU03 says:

    Cricket needs to learn a new command.

    “Cricket sic balls.”

  15. dush says:

    Guide dogs are awesome. Guide robots that don’t shed or cause allergies would be even better.

  16. skloon says:

    I’d tell them that my dog stops me from having a homicidal psycotic break, but I can come in without it, and develop some sort of twitch while telling them this

  17. JohnDeere says:

    what exactly are the punishments for companies violating the ada. they must not be enough or it wouldnt happen.

    • adamstew says:

      The punishments are pretty severe. I don’t think the punishments are the issue. I think it’s just the fact that there aren’t very many disabled individuals requiring service animals.

      I worked at a busy Walmart for about a year as a cashier during my college days for a job and during the time I worked there, I think I maybe saw one or two service animals.

      They are just so infrequent that I think people in general are just very ignorant about the rules and regulations concerning them. I could definitely see at least at the store associate level, how they may not know that service animals are allowed by the ADA. I would’ve certainly hoped that once a manager came over that they would have been educated on the rules and regulations regarding service animals.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I worked at a busy Walmart for about a year as a cashier during my college days for a job and during the time I worked there, I think I maybe saw one or two service animals.

        Really? I think I’ve seen that many in the last week (helps that I was in some restaurant where two were sitting under the table together for a couple that needs them). Maybe there are more to be seen in urban areas because it’s a bit easier to use if you are blind and have access to good public transit.

        • Firethorn says:

          It’s very much regional, I think. At my last place I saw more guide dogs in training – they get taken to many of the same places to familiarize them, but aren’t with a disabled person yet. I don’t think I ever saw one actually helping a disabled person.

          When I was growing up I saw one occasionally, NOT in training. Having met the dogs, trained and in training, their behavior is distinctive for those who know normal dog behavior.

    • Sudonum says:

      There is no enforcement in the usual sense. The law is written so that your local code authority must make sure your building is compliant or else no permit or certificate of occupancy will be issued. Existing buildings had some features that were cost prohibitive or structurally not feasible grandfathered in. Barring that, the building owner had to submit a compliance plan showing when changes would be made to bring the building into compliance, in any case not longer than 10 years from the day the law was enacted. Which has long since past. In the case of something like guide dogs, or retroactive changes to the building, the only “enforcement” is to sue the offending party.

      I was working in the hotel engineering field when the law was passed and remember reviewing buildings and writing up compliance plans, and then fighting with owners and GM’s for the money to make the changes. Brutal arguments over shit like the height of a drinking fountain or the location of a directional sign. Oh, and whether we had to make the employee locker rooms compliant.

  18. Nighthawke says:

    And there’s another store staff that’s going to lose a week’s worth of wages due to retraining in ADA regs and sensitivity.

    MAJOR cluster-*uck, this one.

    • Mephron says:

      I’m sorry, do you think that they should just smirk and not get any kind of punishment or issue as the result of violation of federal law? There appears to be a flaw in their training, and this needs to be addressed.

      Which is worse: the retraining or the $55,000 fine per incident the store faces?

  19. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:


  20. oldwiz65 says:

    The woman should politely go into the store with an attorney, demand to speak to the highest manager there, tell the manager what happened, introduce her attorney, and let the attorney tell the manager the store is being sued under ADA. And have the attorney leave the notification papers on the manager’s desk. Stores do not understand things until they are sued about it. There is no excuse for a store to not know about ADA. This is 2012 and the law has been around long enough. Stores often hire managers with little or no training, especially the small stores, and they know very little about such things as ADA. It would certainly have been interesting if the woman had stood her ground and then the clowns from mall security removed her by force. Just think of the regular police showing up after that.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Poor lady had already had a bad week, though. She just did Not. Want. to screw around with this idiot. And she shouldn’t have had to.

    • physics2010 says:

      Why would she bother working directly with that particular retail outlet? Having her lawyer contact the corporate office is much better than a stupid confrontation in the store. She’d get a lot more money out of corporate than the local franchise as well.

    • Charmander says:

      If you read the response from Ann Taylor, you would see that the misunderstanding arose because the dog was unharnessed when they walked into the store. In other words, didn’t look like a guide dog.

      I work at a grocery/retail store and you wouldn’t believe the idiots who bring their pets in to shop with them. It’s pretty obvious when it is a guide dog, but people think if they have a tiny little dog that fits in a purse (ala Paris Hilton) or a shopping cart, it’s perfectly acceptable to take it shopping with you. We’ve had people trying to shop with parrots and lizards, too.

      I say there are two sides of this story. Let’s hear more from Ann Taylor.

  21. oldwiz65 says:

    It would be so neat if one of the national blind groups would organize a shop-in at every Ann Taylor store in the country. And then…find out how many stores welcome the blind shoppers…

  22. mulch says:

    The same employee also likes to sit at the front of the bus during her commute and direct the African American patrons to the back…

  23. pzer0 says:

    So I’m curious… I got a call from my mom over the weekend. She runs a consignment store in Florida, and had a customer come in with a dog. The customer did not look to be disabled in any way, and the dog had no signage indicating it was a service animal (which I believe is fine per the ADA, animals don’t *have* to have anything indicating they’re a service animal). My mom asked the lady to remove the dog from the store, and she responded flippantly “well this is a service animal.”

    My mom apologized immediately, but the lady continued, stating that even asking about it was a violation of federal law. During the course of her screed, she let slip that that dog IS a service animal, but for her SON, not herself. Is my mom under any legal obligation to allow her in the store with a service animal that is not her own? I advised my mom to contact an attorney, but from my reading of the ADA there are only protections for service animals if they’re with the person who is disabled. Can anyone shed some light on this?

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      I believe if she were training the animal for her son there would be an exception. But for there to be no vest or indication I can’t help be think your mom handled it properly. Maybe to cover her basis in the future when someone brings in a dog, she could say no pets allowed, only service animals.

      The service animal designation is abused, and the well trained animals know to work when wearing a vest. When they are not, they are a pet. It’s clearly not worth being sued over, but I doubt many fake service animals could pass the access test. The ADA needs to be amended to require this test and not allow everyone to claim their pets as service animals.

    • ARP says:

      This sounds like a bratty woman who just wanted to bring in her dog and abused the ADA to do it. Unfortunately, the trouble to confront her just isn’t worth it.

  24. January says:

    Heh, if you go to Becky’s blog and read through the comments, ABC News wants to talk to her. That Ann Taylor store may be getting lots of air time soon.

  25. necrosis says:

    Looked up the ADA rules on service animals ( ).

    They do not even have to be licensed/certified by the state?! Quite literally anyone could say their dog is a service animal and see if the store calls their bluff. I assumed all service animals had to be licensed and the license worn on their harness or at the least be carried by their owner.

    I have zero problems with service animals but I know people are dicks and will pull anything unless they are kept on a “leash”.

  26. Golfer Bob says:

    I contacted Ann Taylor today and quickly received a reply:

    XX, XX – Store Experience Feedback ———— (City Creek ATS)
    Discussion Thread
    Response (Kathryn Jurkovich (MCO)) – 06/19/2012 02:48 PM

    Dear Mr. XX:

    Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We truly love to hear from our clients and appreciate your efforts to email us directly.

    Please know that all service animals, including guide dogs, are welcome in all our stores at any time. The situation you are referring to was a misunderstanding that occurred when a customer entered the store with an unharnessed guide dog. In accordance with the mall regulations, dogs should be leashed or inside a carrier at all times. When the customer entered the store with an unharnessed dog, the associate did not realize it was a guide dog, but upon realizing her error, she apologized and told the customer the guide dog could stay in the store.

    Again, we appreciate the efforts you have made to share your feedback with us. At Ann Taylor, we want to help women put their best selves forward every day and we will continue to strive to make your shopping experience the best it can be.


    ANN INC.
    Corporate Client Contact

    Auto-Response – 06/19/2012 12:27 PM

    Dear Client:

    Thank you for your email.

    Your inquiry requires further research and we have forwarded your email to our corporate office.

    We appreciate your patience while we work to provide you with an accurate, complete and timely response.


    ANN INC.
    Corporate Client Contact Team

    Customer By Email (XX) – 06/19/2012 12:27 PM

    Name: XX

    Message: I am saddened and disappointed to read a recent blog article
    about a disabled woman who was asked to leave the City Creek Center,
    Salt Lake City, UT Ann Taylor store due to the presence of her guide
    dog. I would encourage you to retrain and counsel your store managers
    and store staff about the requirements of federal law (ADA) to
    ensure something this egregious and embarrassing never happens again.

  27. Peri Duncan says:

    I am flabbergasted that anyone could be so ignorant. I am 53 years old (probably the same as the OP, judging from her picture), and long before ADA, in the 1960s, I remember seeing signs on grocery stores stating “no pets, except for seeing-eye dogs” and asking my mom about it. And it wasn’t just one idiot in the store, but all the sales staff!

  28. Draw2much says:

    Wow just… wow. I’ve seen guide dogs before, it’s super easy to tell them apart from regular ol’ pets. Even really well behaved pets. Guide dogs are trained a specific way and behave a certain way in public. If someone is blind, or mostly blind, it’s even MORE obvious they’re legit. (And look, I’m just a random no-body with no training on it or anything. Jeesh.)

    I think the people in this store KNEW this was a legit guide dog and turned her away anyway. (Like I said, even if they had problems with fakers, it’s easy to tell the difference between a real guide dog and someone’s pet.) It’s much more likely management was just being a jerk about it and decided the consequences of refusing the OP service was worth not having to deal with dog hair or whatever rational they had.

    Companies don’t care unless they lose money, so I say boycott the specific store the OP got rejected from. Make ’em feel it in their pocket books, make ’em go out of their way to show they’ve changed. Yeaaaaah. That’s real justice if you ask me. >:)

  29. physics2010 says:

    Just a quick word. ADA rules did change in 2011, so you can stop using the broad definition of “service animal”. The only allowed service animals anymore are “Service Dog” and “Service miniature horse”. The dogs do not require any special vest or paperwork, though I would recommend the vest so that kids know the dog is in service.

  30. Alan_Schezar says:

    If you go to the OP’s blog, the guide dog DOES NOT have any identification vest on it that says it’s a guide dog. As presented, it probably looked like a person with a ‘comfort animal’, like the people who get away with having a Chihuahua in a bag in a restaurant because they have a slip from their doctor.

  31. makoto says:

    If people who have no need for their dogs to accompany them stop bringing their little, yippy rats as well as their big, farty dogs into retail clothing stores and plopping them on registers or carting them around in carts intended for merchandise, this poor lady would not have experienced such unacceptable discrimination. In retail, I see at least 10 to 15 customers a day who are no handicap (by their own admission) and have no need for a service dog, place their clothes that they are buying in the same cart as the dog and then put their dog directly onto my counter. I am a dog lover (and a cat and horse lover) but my boyfriend, as I imagine countless other individuals, are allergic to these animals. That alone, is a violation of the ADA I would think. Service dogs only people. Your abuse of this rule has caused people who really need the law to work for them to suffer.

  32. scorpionamongus says:

    What is wrong with having a dog – service dog or not – in the store? I run a store in an outdoor mall and not only do we welcome people to bring their dogs inside, we keep treats available for the dogs. I have never seen a dog misbehaving in this store or any other in which I have worked and maintained this policy. Children, on the other hand…

    • PercussionQueen7 says:

      Scorpion, I’m an animal lover – and am allergic as hell. If your store allows dogs, more power to you, but I won’t be able to shop there.

  33. cardex says:

    All service animals need to be registered and well marked stores are having to crack down due to people who’s only disability is haveing an IQ low enough to think putting a barking rat into a purse is a good idea

  34. Pete the Geek says:

    The Ann Taylor company’s official position is that it was the dog owner’s fault:

    That same position is also given in the customer service response quoted above. The owner claims to have spoken to two different store employees, including a manager. I hope that reporters are able to find and interview any independent witnesses who were in the store. It would be very interesting to hear what they say because at the moment we have two very different versions of the incident.

  35. Naja says:

    As the owner of a company that strives to educate people about Service dogs and a disabled person with a service dog, I’m sad to say I’m not surprised. Sadly, we who own service animals are not, usually, ones to “raise a stink” when turned away. We are already vulnerable because of the disability and when someone turns us away, we feel shame because they are drawing attention to our disability. For some of us, this is so embarrassing that we really don’t know what to say.

    I have had my service dog for a year and, in that year, have been told twice that my animal was not allowed. Once by an ER nurse! When I showed them that he had his vest on, he was allowed easily. Anyone that has a CERTIFIED service dog knows that, if you have the vest on the animal, THAT is ALL the identification the animal needs. Those that need to be educated are the general public.

    I am, personally, unnerved by some of the insensitive comments here. How would you like it if someone told you that you couldn’t shop or be someplace because of your need for a walker, cane, wheelchair or because you are red haired, green eyed or any number of things you can’t help? Those with disabilities depend on our service animals. They are not pets, they are our eyes, ears, nerves and, for some of us, lifelines. Please, place yourself in another persons shoes and show some compassion for someone with a service dog. You might be someones hero for standing with them if you see something like this happening.

    Oh and, yeah, the prissy pocket pets being passed off as Service dogs pisses us off too. People that do things like that are breaking the law and, if they don’t have a vest, are NOT allowed in businesses with no pet policies. THEY are the ones making it difficult for certified animals to do their jobs. A service dog, no matter how small or large, is NOT a nuisance, yapping and going potty everywhere. They are well trained, some for YEARS before becoming certified and cost THOUSANDS of dollars. They are not pets.

    • makoto says:

      I really have to agree that service dogs are ultimately identifiable either by the person whose handicap is fairly obvious or by the fact that they are properly marked. While my experience with people is mostly in retail, my boyfriend on the other hand manages a grocery store and has a great deal of difficulty with people who bring their pets into the grocery store as well and claim blatantly they are service dogs. They fight with him, touting the ADA protects them for their chihuahua who is not even leashed or collared, let alone vested. It drives me nuts. I feel like it would be a wonderful thing for the ADA to inform all businesses and their employees of exact indications to look for and how to properly turn people away who are not actually traveling with service dogs inside businesses (especially grocery stores, which is probably a health code violation in and of itself). I am so sad for this lady. Especially now that they try to blame it on her!

  36. jrf30 says:

    It’s not as simple as people here say. You don’t “make a scene”. You gently tell the person that the dog is allowed, and if they disagree, even after you emphasis that they are wrong, you leave. Then you deal with it later. Like she did. I know it sounds great to say “I would make them call the police” but that would result in the lady feeling worse than she did. I know. I’ve been denied only twice in the last five years with a dog by my side. Oddly enough, both times by different chinese restaurants! And my wife brought my dog to a class for show and tell once, and all the people were able to pet her when she was sitting. The only two chinese people in the class both refused to touch her. So I think maybe their culture is just not as dog friendly in general. The restuarants not allowing it? Just ignorance, like Ann tyalor in this case. But I ate at different restaurants, and decided to not bother or make a scene at the chinese ones. In both cases I told them to research it that night after they closed, so that in the future if I or anyone else with a service dog came in that they would be better informed. I hope they did. But I didn’t make a scene, and I thnk she was right to also not make a scene.

  37. kerry says:

    The OP notes that there were other customers in the store and none stepped up to do anything, which in turn made her feel even worse. I’m honestly ashamed on their behalf. I think I’d intervene and explain the ADA to the store staff, but I’m a loudmouth pain in the ass like that who tends to get in people’s faces about ADA regulations.
    That said, who doesn’t stand up for the blind lady who wants to buy some clothes?