Updated: 09/01/2014 11:11 PM
Created: 09/01/2014 9:33 PM WHEC.com
A local woman is speaking out after being kicked out of a Brighton Starbucks for bringing her service dog inside.
Amy Kaplan says what happened to her and her service dog is unacceptable and illegal. Now, she wants to share her story to raise awareness about those with disabilities who need service dogs.
“It is extremely stressful to know that every place you go in a day you run the chance of someone telling you to get out because you have a medical assistance device,” said Kaplan.
Kaplan has had her service dog Zero for almost a year. She has severe anxiety and suffered a traumatic brain injury that left her disabled.
Zero is trained to help relieve Kaplan’s anxiety. On Sunday, the two went for a walk, and Kaplan popped into the Starbucks at Twelve Corners in Brighton.
“The first thing they did when we got to the counter was tell me to get out, and I explained to him that my dog is a service dog,” said Kaplan.
But Kaplan says the employee went on to demand proof that Zero was a service dog, and that’s when she took out her phone.
“Are you denying me service because of my service dog,” says Kaplan.
“No, I’m saying you can’t stay here with your service dog,” says the employee.
According to American’s with Disabilities Act, a business cannot deny service to someone with a service dog. Also, they can’t ask for proof. In fact, there is no such thing as proof.
“There’s no official license or registration process in the United States. They are not required to have identification or to be vested,” said Kaplan.
Kaplan wants everyone to learn from this experience. She hopes people understand service dogs are not pets; they are something that is needed to lead an independent life.
“Imagine if you are in a wheel chair and they said you can’t come in here we don’t allow wheel chairs,” Kaplan said.
A spokesperson for Starbucks says their employee did not handle the situation correctly, and it was not in line with their policy. They acknowledge it isn’t legal for someone to ask for proof of a service dog. They say they will reach out to Kaplan to apologize and take this as a chance to remind everyone of their policy.
We’re told in order for qualify as a service dog, the dog must be trained to do at least one task which can be anything from recognizing the sign of a seizure or helping with anxiety, like in Zero’s case. There isn’t a specific course the dog needs to take. Kaplan says she trained Zero herself.