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Caroline Little has suffered from severe, life-threatening asthma since she was 9-years old. Now 25, Little says her service dog, Ash, is a lifesaver.
“Ash can detect when I’m going to have an asthma attack, and will either lay on me, lift her paw up and alert,” Little said. “When you have asthma, you basically don’t have enough air in your lungs to breathe, and it’s scary.”
Because an asthma attack can start at any time, anywhere, Little’s doctor recommended she get a specially trained asthma alert dog that can warn her of an impending attack, well before symptoms occur.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, a service dog has full access to public places, even where dogs are not typically welcomed, including restaurants, grocery stores, and other public venues. Additionally, service dogs are not required to wear a special vest, tag, or ID card indicating they’re a service animal.
But, when Little visited her local Albertson’s grocery store on Monday night, the pair were told to leave by the store’s manager. When Little explained that Ash was her service dog, the manager demanded to see her service dog identification, despite Little explaining that such identification is not legally required.
In fact, no official service dog registry exists in the country and the online service dog registries that claim to provide official service dog documents and ID tags are not legally binding or official in any capacity.
An Albertson’s spokeswoman told FOX 4 they regret that the situation occurred and have taken steps to ensure that all employees are aware that service dogs are welcome in all of their stores.
Little hopes that by sharing her story, more people will become aware of the laws and the rights of service dogs and handlers and that others will be spared the embarrassment she felt being kicked out of her local grocery store.