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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.