On January 5, 2002, Sprawl-Busters posted the story of Rodney Jackson, a disabled man with a Service Dog who was kicked out of a Wal-Mart in Douglas, Georgia, despite the fact that the store displayed a 12″ x 12″ sign that stated “Service Dogs Welcome”. Today, Sprawl-Busters received another Service Dog story from Gina Pettrow in Huntington Beach, California: “On the evening of February 8th, 2007, I was shopping at the Huntington Beach, California Wal-Mart with my Service Dog (Chloe) and daughter for approx 1/2 hour. Chloe was extremely well-behaved. The Customer Service Manager approached us and asked us to leave because “there are children in the store and we can’t have a vicious breed in here.” I was stunned and went over Chloe’s training, that she was an Ambassador for her breed, and emphasized what she was asking me to do was illegal according to the Americans With Disabilies Act of 1990. The Wal-Mart Customer Service Manager said that she represented the Store Manager’s position as well, and she still did not feel comfortable with the dog in the store and asked us to leave. I again
emphasized what she was asking was illegal and to carefully consider what she was asking me. She again asked if we could go, and then when I pressed her for it in writing, she said to finish my shopping quickly and not to linger. I told her I wanted to talk to the Store Manager and followed her upfront. After checking out, I asked her when he was coming – she said he looked for us and was now busy. She confirmed it was his decision also and they just got off the phone. I said I would wait and to call him again, she said it would be a while and to go because “it won’t matter.” I left and called our OC HUGS Service Dog president. and then called the Store Manager with her conferenced in. I first confirmed his position that he wanted us to go because of our Service Dog’s breed and he said and elaborated his prejudicial opinions, stating they were an ‘unstable and vicious’ breed and banned from different cities. He said he was aware of the Service Dogs and their rights, but he had never seen a Pitbull Service Dog in his 20 years. He also emphasized that it was our responsibility to educate the public and we shared that is what are trying to do starting with him. He was closed minded in his opinions, rude and insensitive, and finally apologized when pressed for one. The incident is still on record and should have never happened. We went back to the store two days later as we informed them that we would and approx 6 to 8 employees approached us stating that there was a big meeting and they couldn’t believe it was blown out of portion. One employee even asked “did you break her of her craziness?” and then went on to say how he heard how the breed had a ‘crazy’ gene that made them go crazy and hurt people — UGH!!! I was as polite as possible and informed him about the temperament test and the difference between human aggression and dog aggression, along with socialization
and training, etc. I have written a formal complaint to corporate Wal-Mart, with phone call to corporate as well. Will be following up with the Regional Manager. Also went back with Chloe and our OC HUGS Service Dog president and another service dog. Several employees approached us with interesting statements. I have verified legal rights of the American Pit Bull Terrier as a Service Dog and also a Service Dog in training with an attorney, who by the way, has an American Pit Bull Terrier Service Dog!
Gina Pettrow asks readers to “Sign our Petition against Wal-Mart, demanding that they ensure the dignity, freedom, and rights of the disabled depending upon Service Dogs by formally educating all their employees on the American with Disabilities Act, and the
uniqueness of Service Dogs; and help remove ignorance and prejudice of the American Pit Bull Terrier by the positive promotion of their value and merits.” Gina adds, “I got a call from a man with polio that had a Pitbull Service Dog for 15 years and he received the same treatment from another Wal-Mart. There is also a woman who has an open lawsuit for a similar discrimination – different breed of dog. We would love to hear
your positive and negative stories. email us at [email protected] For more background, go to www.chloethepitbull.com”