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Disabled Woman and her Service Dog Ordered Out of Starbucks

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Two years ago, 24-year old Amy Kaplan suffered a traumatic brain injury. Now, she relies on her service dog, a Husky named Zero, to perform a variety of tasks.

Although an identification vest is not required by law, Kaplan normally uses one for Zero. But, because it was so hot out on Sunday, she left Zero’s service vest at home when she took him out for a long walk. During their walk, she decided to make an unplanned stop at her local Starbucks.

“One of the employees told me to immediately get out and I informed him that my dog is a service dog for a medical disability,” Kaplan told WROC Channel 8 News.

She then began using her cell phone to record the incident:

In the video, Kaplan can be heard asking if the employee is denying her service because of her service dog.

The Starbucks employee replies, “No I’m not. I’m telling you that you can’t come in with your service dog.” When Kaplan tries to explain her rights, the employee says, “I see no proof that that’s a service dog. Service dogs are licensed.”

Of course, the Starbucks employee was incorrect – service dogs do not require any specific license, nor are they required to wear an identification vest, collar, or tag. It was his employer’s responsibility to make him aware of these laws.

Starbucks told News 8 it the company is reaching out to Kaplan to apologize. “Starbucks does welcome service animals. Unfortunately, Ms. Kaplan had an unacceptable experience and it is not consistent with our policy,” said a spokeswoman.

Anyone with any questions regarding the laws and rights of a disabled person and their service dog in a place of business is urged to read (and share with employees!) these commonly asked questions from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division regarding service animals in businesses.

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  1. Avatar Of Bill Fitzpatrick

    Bill Fitzpatrick


    I hope Mr. kuhns gave his permission for his name to be used, if not that’s the bigger problem.

  2. Avatar Of Cat



    I think the lady is overly sensitive. I have a dog that I take everywhere. But, I always ask if he is allowed before going into any place. I can understand the Starbuck employee’s dilemma. The dog has nothing identifying that it is a service dog. How is the employee to know? There are too many people who lie about their “service” dogs. And I do think service animals should have a license/tag (free of charge) to avoid these issues. What I would like to know is what happens if someone in the store has an allergic reaction to the dog? No win situation.

  3. Avatar Of Chuck Chuck says:

    There may not be any requirement that identification be carried with the owner of a service dog but there should be. I am an amputee with chronic pain in my stump and when it is very bad I use the handicaped parking spots. It is very irksome (being nice about it) to see a bunch of teens jump out of a car and go skipping into a store or mall. Obviously using Grandma’s handicapped parking tag. It is difficult to know for sure if someone is handicapped as this term includes people with heart conditions and breathing problems and the like that are not noticeable to the general public. I would like for those with handicaps to carry a card with this outlining their need for a parking sticker and also with a picture so the police will know what the handicapped person looks like. This would stop a lot of those using others parking placards. And perhaps the same for service dogs. We want anyone with a need to have these services but not those who don’t need them.

  4. Unfortunately it has been found that unscrupulous connivers will try to take a dog onto an airplane posing as a ‘Service Dog’ or into a hotel or motel etc. where they are generally not permitted to be. These same people would keep a handicapped tag hanging from their rearview mirror, months or even years, long after grandma assumed room temperature just to continue to park in handicapped marked parking spots.

  5. Avatar Of Celine Corr

    Celine Corr


    She didnt have to be difficult about it. . She should have just showed the papers! A lot of people including me have serious allergies to animals. A lot of people just simply think its gross to have an animal in a restaurant. Show paperwork! Dont be a legal quoting jerk.

    • Avatar Of Margo Taft

      Margo Taft


      Actually, a disabled person with a service dog does NOT have to explain their reason for disability under the ADA. I too, have a service dog and will not put on his vest if it is over 90 degrees outside. I just mention he’s a service dog and it’s too hot to wear his vest. I have never been questioned. Irrespective of whether or not you have allergies, a disabled person and their service dog cannot be refused service…legally. Why oh why is this so hard to get across to people? Business owners need to read up on this…Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

      • Avatar Of Matt



        It is not a hard message to get across, Margo; most of us get that. It’s being inferred, and rightly so, that there are folks out there taking advantage by fraudulently claiming their non-service dog is a service dog because they just want their dog with them.

    • Avatar Of Mogilb



      Under the circumstances, I think she was very proper in her reaction; I would not have been quite as nice, probably; the employee owes a HUGE apology forhis insensitivity! Definitely sounds like you got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, toots!

  6. Avatar Of Ohgreatlisa OhGreatLisa says:

    Anyone can say their dog is a service dog. She should have had his papers with her. I don’t see how you can blame Starbucks with this one.

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