The lack of knowledge

There is a huge lack of knowledge in this country about service dogs and what is acceptable and what is not.  Particularly when one enters a restaurant.

Two years ago, I went to a Subway for lunch with a friend who also utilizes a service dog.  We were verbally accosted and threatened, and, since the offender couldn’t legally kick us out (though she tried, and only backed down when we threatened to call the police), she told us we had to eat in the back of the restaurant away from the other customers.

I was absolutely humiliated.

Tonight, I went to the Subway that was only a few feet from the hotel I’m staying in, because I was hungry, and didn’t want to order in.  It was RIGHT there.  So, I suited up Strauss, and I went over.  I was feeling a bit of trepidation, and when I walked in, one of the staff immediately said “No dogs!”, but then he saw Strauss’s harness, and said “Nevermind”.  He wasn’t at all rude, just matter of fact.

I got my food without incident, and, upon returning to the room, I called the store.  I thanked the young man for his kind treatment and good service, and then asked him if the corporate office or any of his local higher ups taught Subway staff ANYTHING about appropriate interactions with service dog handlers.

He said no.

There is a belief by some (including some of those within the service dog community) that there should be registration/identification required (there currently is no such think in the United States).  I disagree.  I feel it unfairly singles out one group of people, and since my dog is medical equipment, just like a wheelchair or oxygen tank, I do not want to be constantly stopped and potentially harassed being asked for ID.

One thing that would really help is if businesses actually KNEW what their rights were.  They CAN protect themselves, and they don’t.  They do not educate themselves OR their staff.  Those of us that use service animals should not be discriminated against because people that run businesses are ignorant, and do not bother to take the initiative to educate themselves on the law.

This is not only irresponsible of the business owner (small business or large corporation), but it is UNFAIR to their staff.  The “lower” staff are put into the uncomfortable position of potentially denying (or trying to deny) somebody access to a place of business, because they do not know what is acceptable in such an instance.

When I spoke to the young man on the phone tonight, I DID educate him, because somebody has to.  And I did tell him to try and suggest to corporate (yes, corporate) to add some additional training for situations like he had tonight, so he and his co workers are better equipped to deal with customers like me diplomatically and politely.  He allowed me in the restaurant, yes.  He gave me excellent service, and treated me kindly.  But he was still skeptical.

I can’t really blame him for that.  Nobody taught him a damn thing about appropriate responses in that situation!

I told him that he could ask me if I was disabled, if my dog was a service dog, and that if a dog was causing a disturbance, service dog or not, he could ask for the dog to be removed from the premises.

Throughout the whole conversation, short though it may have been, he was open to listening, and grateful for the information, as well as the praise given because he was so nice to me.  It’s just something that I really value.

If businesses would bother to arm themselves with the knowledge that is readily available (freaking Google, you lazy ass CEO’s!), there would be LESS access challenges for legitimate teams, and LESS fakers out in public.  Staff that is better prepared and gives good service to those with assistance animals will garner repeat business, just like any other customer.

You own a business?  Look at this: http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm

Knowledge is power.  Educate yourself, and pass it on.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

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~ by ClassicalSpazz on April 8, 2012.

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