Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Sears Manager Makes Big Mistake Regarding Service Dogs

Sharon,
Here you go - you have my permission to post:

A very good friend of mine, Paula Scherk, who is disabled and requires the use of a service dog, was asked to leave a Sears store in Colorado yesterday. Paula has been in a wheelchair for over 12 years. I was totally outraged when I talked to her last evening.

The manager of a Sears store demanded that she and her service dog, Rain (he's the brother of my dog, Ripley), leave the store immediately. When Paula pointed out to him that Rain was her SD and was covered by ADA, the manager became increasingly irate and verbally abusive. This manager did not listen to anything Paula told him. The manager even called her dog vicious - this is not even a word that would come to mind when describing Rain - he is so docile and so well trained (actually was one of the youngest dogs to ever be certified as an SD). Paula, although not required to, provided the manager with a copy of Rain's SD certification and the ADA regulations. The manager was completely disinterested and continued to demand she leave the store immediately.

Paula has been in these types of situations before and she immediately called the local police. The dispatcher stayed on the phone and recorded most of the confrontation. When the manager saw the police coming, he ran and hid in his office. The police confronted him and the manager was not in the least apologetic! Said that dogs were not allowed in Sears unless they were seeing eye dogs, and especially Rottweilers were not allowed in the store since they are known for their very bad dispositons. Hello! ADA applies to ALL service dogs, regardless of the needs of their person or the breed of dog.

Security and several Sears employees tried to reason with this manager before the police arrived - to no avail.

Paula has already contacted her attorney who is investigating the situation. She has many witnesses to the incident. We will be contacting the local media to broadcast this issue.

I am absolutely appalled that this manager was so ignorant about service dogs and the laws covering service dogs. Even when told about ADA regulations by Paula and store security, he continued to harangue Paula and tried to force her to leave. I would love to see a campaign to Sears to get this manager fired. He really should not be in this type of position.

9 comments:

Joy said...

Thank you for letting us all know about this manager's actions. Many of us would like to know at which Sears, or at least in which city, this outrage occurred. His district manager should get a few letters or calls remindind them of their responsibilities under the ADA laws.

Shari said...

Joy all I know is that it was in Colorado.

There is legal action being taken, so I think the town or city was left out for that reason.

I feel this could be any Sears store in any town or state, but this one was in Colorado.

Justin said...

It's good that such things are being brought under notice, let people know the kind of injustice that is being meted out to pets..

Shari said...

Justin, I need to clarify something. Service Dogs are not pets they are a working animal. They pay our billsfor us, pick things up if we drop them pull manual chairs for us if we cannot handle the chair ourselves.

Please do not call a Service Dog a pet, there is a big difference.

Anonymous said...

Sharon,
Thanks for posting my email about my friend and the issues she had with a Sears store attempting to eject her and her service dog. You are correct - I purposely did not post the location of the store or the name of the manager at the request of my friend. Her attorney has asked us not to contact the specific store or Sears corporate until he has had an opportunity to do his research and get his ducks in a row. I talke dot my friend this evening and it sounds like this is coming to a head very quickly. I will provide updates when approved by my friend and her attorney.

Randi

Kim & Sophie said...

Sounds a lot like Wal Marts all over Canada and the US! I have a guide dog who has also been trained to do some service dog tasks since I became a quad. in 2004. I've had my share of access issues, but non of them got this nasty! I'd say she should sue them and maybe next time someone with a guide dog or service dog comes into the store they will be treated with respect! The manager should also have to go through training to learn how to treat people with disabilities and their guide/service dogs.

Anonymous said...

Can you verify the validity of the claims made by your friend? I do not doubt that discrimination does happen, at some point everyone is discriminated against. However to slander an entire company based upon hearsay is borderline libelous. I would be absolutely shocked to learn that what she claims actually happened; whats the motivation behind her claim? Could it be a gross overreaction on her part for monetary gain? Having a bit of inside information through various sources I can confidently say, without bias, that this is not what happened.

Anonymous said...

Sharon;

In addition to your friend seeking help from an attorney; you should have her contact the United States Department of Justice. They will open a case, provide an attorney specially versed in service dog access denial; and there will be federal investigations done on all Sears Corp. stores. If proven guilty, the corporation would have to change thier policies and implement a disability awareness program at their own expense. In this way, your friend could not only help maintain her rights; but other rights of service dog teams who may come behind her. I am the East Coast Access Consultant for the Delta Society. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact.

Kimberly Carnevale
canineandabled@aol.com
www.canineandabled.com

Canine and Abled said...

Sharon;

You might want to advise your friend to contact the United States Department of Justice in addition to her private attorney. They will open a case, and upon verification of access denial, will assign a case worker who will investigate Sears Corp. very thoroughly. If found guilty, the corp will be forced to change policies regarding customers with disabilities in all of their stores; including implementing service dog and disability awareness training at their own expense. The Department of Justice will continue to monitor the stores' actions for years to come. In this way, your friend could help other service dog handlers who may come behind her. I am the East coast access consultant for the Delta Society. If your friend has any questions, please let her know I'd be happy to assist her in any way I can.

Kimberly Carnevale
www.canineandabled.com
canineandabled@aol.com