David Long just wanted to get a cup of coffee when his service dog Harry was denied entry into a convenience store in South Carolina. Now Long wants to bring awareness to the rights of service dogs and is considering legal action against Circle K convenience stores.
Long suffers from PTSD, he had a long military career that included being part of search and recovery at the Pentagon after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. He also served in Iraq where he almost lost his life to a mortar blast. His service dog Harry helps him deal with his PTSD. “He’s a comfort to me,” said Long, who often feels nervous in public. “He can sense the nervousness. He has a calming effect.”
On Monday Long and Harry went into the Circle K convenience store to get a cup of coffee. “The clerk noticed Harry, didn’t see his vest, and said, ‘You’re going to have to take your dog outside,’ said Long. “I said, ‘He is a certified service dog, it’s legal for him to be he in here, so that’s the way it’s gonna be,’ and she didn’t want to hear it. She said ‘Obviously you don’t look blind, so you have to take him outside.’” Long tried to explain to the clerk but she in turn called her manager and eventually the cops were called to the scene.
Cops sorted out the situation, and Long tried his best to stay calm. His PTSD training and Harry helped him from losing his cool completely. One of the deputies waited with Long while another talked to the convenience store clerk. He informed Long that they deal with this kind of situation all the time. Long is hoping by getting this story out more people will become better educated about service dogs and conflicts like this can be avoided. Long has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and is considering other legal action as well.