Veteran’s Service Dog Denied Entry Into Convenience Store

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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.

12 thoughts on “Veteran’s Service Dog Denied Entry Into Convenience Store”

  1. I arrested. A convenience store owner for refusing entry to a man with a service dog…a lot of people arent aware of the laws regarding the dogs. I used to advise the dog owners to carry a card with them,identifying the dog as a service dog,with the florida statute regarding them.

    • Remember we never know the full story or the veterans tone or body language. Not that he was wrong in stating he could be there with his dog. We are ambassadors, every service dog handler, for those of us requiring a dog and should present ourselves accordingly. Not everyone is familiar with the law. Yes even today. AND some people make mistakes in judgement. We all make mistakes. This veteran admits the conversation started off wrong and his comment to the clerk didn’t help. I’m all for being COMPASSIONATE when I encounter an access issue and with that have NEVER had a situation that I couldn’t defuse on the spot. But SUE over a cup of coffee or to make a point will be inviting a lot of lawsuits for people wanting to grab a free buck and this is counter productive to our cause. I’ve been ask if I’m blind because I have a service dog (I’m not) and countless times told I don’t look like I’m disabled, etc. The list goes on and on. But I don’t get defensive, their just ignorant about service dogs and the laws pertaining to access and I see that as an opportunity to educate. Heck I’ve had issues in huge chain grocery stores and that all went will resulting in my leadership on education classes for the employees. Stop having knee jerk reactions. Those of us that have had service dogs for a couple decades know that it was just recently that the public has become more informed. 8 Years ago and new to my small town I was stopped from entering countless stores because their were only a couple of professional teams here including me and stores didn’t encounter them. But I was never barred from entry because I know how to communicate politely the law.

      • I respectfully disagree and here’s why. Sometimes the only way to get “justice” and see existing laws and regulations enforced and procedures changed is to quantify the argument.

        In other words, hit ’em the only place it hurts ’em, in the wallet.

        Circle K and most all retail establishments are insured. Insurance companies really REALLY do not like it when their policyholders are scofflaws.

        If enough people in protected classes stand up strongly for their rights eventually the situation will reach critical mass and things will improve. In fact, they have already, and it is because physically challenged people did things like: demand wheelchair ramp access to public buildings – look at the 100% compliance for this now! demand curb ramps at crosswalks – look at the nearly 100% compliance in medium to large cities now! demand closed-captioning for tv broadcasts – now a standard feature on all new TV’s! Look at the incredible increase in access of physically challenged people into mainstream sports from kidsports all the way to the Olympics – there were plenty of lawsuits demanding access all along the way since the ADA was passed over two decades ago. Even the threat of a lawsuit is usually enough to bring some idiots to the sticking point!

        I would also add that good manners, politeness, calm explanations, etc., really do not always work – I’m happy for you that your strategy works well for you. But there are an awful lot of not only card-carrying bullies but even average people out there these days with ATTITUDE, with chips on their shoulders, or who want to exercise a little power over someone else when their own lives are so powerless that they are desperate to somehow gain some for themselves. To such people, politeness, good manners and calm explanations are signs of weakness and all it does is make them more intent on victimizing their target.

        Most people in protected classes find that they regularly have to stand up for themselves and it simply doesn’t always work to communicate politely “the law.” And that’s when lawsuits happen.

  2. He should sue. The stupid clerk and even dumber manager should have to pay with their jobs and the store should pay $$$. If anyone doesn’t know the law regarding service dogs; they are too stupid to continue.

  3. The Management of the Convience Store needs to be educated. Do not give up and go there everyday despite they ignorance you received. bring information on the legal rules about Service Animals. Could imagine if you could find someone who has a Service mini horse to go there with you how they would react, But Seriously They need to be educated Here is your Opportunity to make a difference and you will turn a bad experience into aa good outcome.

  4. According to the ADA service dogs are not required to wear service dog vests and there are only 3 questions people in public place can ask the person with service dog. 1. Is that a service dog? 2. Are you disabled? and 3. What tasks does the service dog do? that is all they can ask.
    Service dogs do not have to be certified.

    I have a service dog.


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