Walmart Staff Denying Service To Customers With Service Animals

Our local newspaper carried some very disturbing stories this weekend.

IMO, the most disturbing one concerned a local Walmart store and the way they have been treating some people with disabilities. I thought that you some of you folks here in this forum might like to see one of these stories about how Walmart staff routinely mistreat this lady who has a service dog with her to help her shop.

One of the things that really bothered me was that I just love Golden Retrievers and it mad me so angry to imagine anyone mistreating one of those magnificent dogs - let alone some WM staff who are supposed to know better!

Anyway, here is a link to the specific story:

And, here is a link to the paper where you may find other such stories this weekend.

I wonder just what you all might think about Walmart behaving this way and what it is that we can do about it. I am afraid that just boycotting Walmart may not help very much since there are so few of us compared to the total number of WM customers. It seems to me that they just might not ever get the message that sales are down owing to this story.

Does anyone have any better ideas? I would love to do something to hit home the point that we do not appreciate this kind of B.S.

How was the dog mistreated? According to the article all that happened was several employees told Ms Di Marco the dog wasn’t allowed in the store.

And one issue that the article doesn’t address is the status of the dog. Is it a legitimate service animal? Or is it a dog that Ms Di Marco trained herself and likes having with her. The service the dog was doing for Ms Di Marco was fetching items off of shelves for her. I can see where the store and other customers might have legitimate issues with that.

Ms Di Marco also expressed concern that somebody might get hurt if the dog felt the need to “protect” her. That sounds strange. All anyone apparently did was talk to Ms Di Marco. If she felt the dog might do something in response to that, that doesn’t sound like a properly trained service animal.

She’s welcome to come to our Wal-Mart. We have shoppers in wheelchairs and employees who most definitely qualify as handicapped. All are gladly assisted in any way we can.

And service dogs are welcomed.

Service dogs are welcome by law. If this was a legit service dog, then the staff needs training on recognizing legit Service Dogs.

Also, I am not sure the savings at your Walmart are worth the 12 hour Toronto-Sturgeon Bay drive.

What do I think of it? Its legit service dog under the federal or state definition (normally, that it is trained to do tasks and does not just provide “emotional support”), their actions are illegal and worth a nice fat sum in a lawsuit.

In the US, you can ask if a dog is a service dog, but documentation cannot be required. The stated policy of Wal*Mart Canada, as described in the article, would be illegal in the U.S.

However, in the article, DiMarco, the dog owner, strongly implies that the dog is not capable of performing its duties without being a danger.* If that is the case, the business does not have to allow the dog.

Source: U.S. Dept of Justice: Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals in Places of Business

*Regarding various incidents in which staff members have hassled her about the dog, she states
“You don’t know, if the dog is protecting its owner, what the response is going to be. Someone could have been injured."

Service dogs are accepted by law, but may not be welcomed. It’s all in the attitude. Is this animal a hassle that must be handled by law or something to be treated nicely as a friendly shopper to be courted?

Maybe. :dubious: :slight_smile: But the point is that not all stores are the same, and some are downright friendly.

That would make my day if I went to Walmart and saw a golden retriever fetching items off a shelf for a woman with a disability. What sort of legitimate issues would you have with it?

The item has now been inside a dog’s mouth. It doesn’t belong to the dog’s owner yet.

It is on it’s way to the owner. And what’s the difference between a dog’s mouth and the hands of random Walmart shoppers? Not sure what Walmart you go to, but I’d take a dog’s mouth over the hands of a Walmart shopper in a heartbeat. Baby drool, toddler snot, people who don’t wash their hands after… all sorts of activities… I pray that a golden retriever has been there before me.

So when you see a handicapped woman who has come up with a way to get past her disability and function in public with the help of her golden retriever… you don’t think she should be doing that because of the potential of dog saliva?

No, it’s not. Until it’s paid for it belongs to Wal-Mart, and it’s up to them whether they want it in a dog’s mouth.

I’m very happy for you.

1.) It doesn’t sound like this is an actual service dog, just some animal she tried to train herself. 2.) If Wal-Mart doesn’t want its stuff getting dog saliva on it, that’s its prerogative. 3.) It’s been implied that this particular animal is dangerous. With a dog that isn’t violent you don’t have to go out of your way to say “oh, by the way, it might try to protect me. Just letting you know.”

The article said it had the official service vest.

I think the objection might be that she might have the dog retrieve items so she can look at them. If it turns out she doesn’t want the object, then you have an item for sale but with dog slobber/dog allergens/tooth marks on it that is left on the shelf for the next customer who comes along. Hopefully she is careful enough in her shopping that this isn’t an issue.

Edit: Too slow!

Right. And in your humble opinion, do you agree with Walmart’s stance in this situation?

If it was indeed a legit service animal (and it’s been pointed out to me that it seems to have been) that still leaves the other two issues, namely it holding product in its mouth. I’m not familiar with the law so I can’t say whether having the dog pick up products in a store for you is part of the whole protected deal or if merely its presence must be allowed.

The incident seems to have taken place in Canada. However, if you read my link, you’ll see that, in the US, a dog must be allowed to accompany it’s handler and perform its tasks unless the dog’s presence creates a fundamental alteration in the nature of the business, and moreover, “this is not likely to occur… in retail stores.”

It’s pretty obvious why. Items becoming shopworn through handling is a normal expected part of being WalMart whether a dog’s in it or not. I doubt greatly they have any legal objection to the dog handling items with it’s mouth, because it doesn’t change the nature of their business. Retail business take losses every day because people touch shit with dirty, sticky hands, drop items, open items, vomit in the store, poop in the store, wipe their toddler’s snotty noses with totally inappropriate for-sale items… you name it, humans are doing it at Wal*Mart. At least the dog won’t intentionally steal.

I wasn’t asking for a legal analysis. I was curious as to your personal opinion on the matter.

Ummm… you don’t give dogs enough credit. Dog Shoplifter Steals Rawhide

Also, I think the “dog protecting owner” comment was because one of the managers “came running” at the owner. Not because the dog in general was protective.

You can order service dog vests on line.

The thing is that the legal definition of a service animal is pretty wide open.

From a legal standpoint, a service animal:

  1. Has to be a dog. (Federal law only recognizes dogs as service animals.)
  2. Has to accompany a person who has a disability.
  3. Has to do some action for the person. It can’t just serve the person by its presence.

There’s no official licensing or standards program for training or owning service animals. You can train your own dog to be your service animal if you wish.

So legally speaking Ms Di Marco’s dog appears to meet the standards of being a service animal.

Sure, I think Wal-Mart should be able to prevent its stuff from being picked up in a dog’s mouth. I don’t know that that’s what they were doing, though.