Goodwill Discrimnates against Service Animals.

by Sue on June 13, 2012

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Service Dog Owner Claims Discrimination
By Megan Brantley
POSTED: 5:48 am EDT June 12, 2012

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — A Johnson City woman claims that she was discriminated against for bringing her service dog inside a store.

According to the Americans with Disability Act, state and local governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations that serve the public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.

One woman she was not allowed to do so when she was shopping at the Goodwill. Rose Holowka is dealing with a disability. “I was in a car wreck back in 1992 which caused seizures that developed into epilepsy and have partial complex seizures,” she explained.

Her service dog Honey makes things a little easier, but we learned that the law makes it a little harder. “About a month ago my husband and I went to the Goodwill, and we were approached by their supervisor. We were told that we had to leave or show certification or documentation for the dog,” said Holowka.

Unlike being blind, Holowka doesn’t have a visible disability and she says that makes it harder to convince people.

Federal law does not require folks to show proof an animal is a service dog. State representative Jon Lundberg says places are not allowed to ask. “You can’t ask to see that,” says Lundberg, “This is not like ‘let’s see you driver’s license, let’s see your dog credentials.’ It doesn’t work that way, it wasn’t designed to work that way.”

Although it wasn’t designed that way, it’s put places like Goodwill in a very tough position. With the animals not being required by law to wear a vest or dog tag, it makes it hard to tell which dog is a service dog and which isn’t.

We spoke with a representative from Goodwill who said that with the right paperwork they’d be happy to allow them in, but until then, their policy says no pets allowed.

NOTE FROM ME: They need to read the rules. They are, by law, not allowed to asked to see written proof. The only thing they are allowed to ask is “Is that a service dog?” and “What does that service dog do for you?”

On a personal note: I go in Goodwills all the time and never have an issue. Maybe Oregon is different. I don’t know.

Sussie and the Fearsome Foursome.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debi 06.18.12 at 6:23 am

I had a similar incident occur at a local (Seffner Florida) Cracker Barrel. They gave us a table right by the door, where the woman stands and takes your name for a table. Well, Oliver sat and tried to squeeze under the table but his butt stuck out. I tried to block it off but stupid people, they kept stepping on him so occasionally he would shift, or get up because he thought he needed to. The manager came over, nastily, and in a very loud voice and quested me about IS HE REALLY A SERVICE DOG LADY OR DO YOU JUST WANT TO BRING YOUR PET IN BECAUSE SERVICE DOGS ARE MUCH BETTER BEHAVED THAT THAT….some people!

2 Dan 06.18.12 at 7:16 am

I travel about 200 days a year, working. My service dog “Hanna” travels with me. I have no problem showing proof of her service. I have phoney people saying their dog/cat and even a Ferret were service animals. Bottom line, if you are honest about your service animal, most people respect that and also enjoy having you and your service friend around

3 MarshaMarsha 06.18.12 at 7:23 am

I had a bit of a problem where I lived but after I gave them my doctors note for the second time they are now ok with it especially after they were given a copy of their k9 good citizenship papers since they are still training…. Especially since my sd is a pit and they are for my asthma…

4 Wendy Parent 06.18.12 at 8:14 am

I had trouble last month in Aludies. i have been taking my SD in since they opened without any trouble. Well a new Manager was there and he came up to us with an additude. He told us we had to leave and never been her in again. Well I went home and ordered the Service Dog Access Required tag and wrote a letter to them. I put in the copy of ADA Law and the cards I carry that State ” I AM A SERVICE DOG”. I have had no trouble from him since. He gives me dirty looks, but nothing more. It makes me mad when places don’t care that they volate the fed. laws.

5 Wm Dennis Bryant 06.18.12 at 8:26 am

I was in Lancaster, CA. at a 7-11 one night getting ice cream for my Service Dog, Sammy, who was with me. An L.A. County Sheriff came up to us as we were checking out + wanted to know why I had him in the store; he was rude, hostile, + threatened to issue me a citation. While I was calmly assuring the cop that we were in fact legal, he told me that his friend has a Service Dog + it has certification. I asked the cop, “Does your friend carry it with him everywhere he goes ??” The cop became flustered + told us to “Get out of here + I better not see you in here again or I’ll arrest you + send your dog to the pound !!” During the time I was being insulted, a Sheriff’s Cadet was working with Sammy + he followed every command, sit, shake, down, etc. He passed with flying colors + further complicated the cops position + doubts.
That was when I began searching for a way “TO PROVE” my Sammy was an “Owner Trained Service Dog.” Since I had gotten him from an Akita Rescue mostly trained, it had been easy for me to continue his training + exceed the limits the industry has for qualification as a Service Dog.
In Dec, 2011, I needed to fly to Seattle, WA. to visit family.. The “Service Dog ID card” that I’d gotten has reduced the drama + stopped us from being needlessly harassed by silly, spiteful, + ignorant people. I booked the flight on-line, then called the airline + notified them that I had a Service Dog that would be flying with me. When the agent began reading a list of qualifications I interrupted her + said, “I have an ID card that shows he is a Service Dog.” That ended all the discussion + she asked that I make sure to bring it on the day we were to fly.
I bought a lanyard to wear one ID card around my neck + clipped the other to his collar.. We arrived at Bob Hope, (Burbank), Airport, went through security, waited in the lounge area, + boarded without question or incident.. The stewardesses were very nice + the only time they said anything was before take off, they wanted Sammy on the floor “for safety reasons” I was told.. Without the ID, I have no doubt that the trip would have been a never ending question + answer session, + very miserable..
Thanks to the ID it was a great flight + Sammy made me quite proud, since he’s an “Owner Trained Service Dog..”
Remember, just because you can’t see someone’s disability doesn’t mean they don’t have one..

Wm Dennis Bryant

6 Charles Vandergriff 06.18.12 at 8:51 am

I live in Spanish In Yukon Ok. I pay a big fee to live here. The CEO and Board choose not to obey the Law. Gave them copy’s and for five years walked on egg shells. Filed complaint with Hud in Oct 2011 still in the process. Almost moved out last April and lost buy in. They are on there fourth Attorney now to tell them they do not have to obey the Law. My first SD I picked out at 7 day’s and trained her. Best hearing dog ever f0r almost 15 years. Now have one that doew Five thing for me; Still refuse to accept him. He goes with me every where I go, Wears vest and leash with SD on it. Doctors love him even in surgery on back. At Church they love him. Cattlemans steak house he is alway’s welcomed. The CEO called my doctor and demanded why he wrote letter 24/7 and wrote him letter saying he is not a service dog. Two Doctors letters one a Heart doctor sent letters.
Still reused and In April I was given 30 Day notice to comply or be evectied. No Bark etc. He would bark and run to door and back to me. I have had to retrain him and he learns fast. He is more important to me than they are. P.S. The CEO is leaving Aug 31 at end of his contract. A law School in NM was advising my nice what to do. The attorney wont file the suite as long as I live here so I have not much choice. I keep praying that someone will make him OBEY the Law/
Good luck to all of you. Charles and Canyon.

7 Christine-Ashly Mystry 06.18.12 at 8:53 am

I too wear a laynard around my neck with a larger version of my SD’s Service Dog Card that he also wears on his collar. I also have both a note from my DR & Shrink, pus a copy of the ADA laws I always keep in my purse. hanks ully, even tho the Laynard & my D’s Leash says Service Dog on them, I only have to show the ID card if anyone asks questions. I even have a card that says: Not all Disabilities are visable. As well as :Please do not pet, Working Dog. Since I need my SD’s full attention on me for my mutiple medical issues. He is also Owner Trained as well as Self Train by watching and learning from my retired SD (going blind, but he stays with me for the rest of his life!) and from watching the Dr’s in the hospitl when I go there. For a long coat Chihuahua, he is extemely intelligent! Not all SD’s have to be labs or goldens, they can be any breed, including mutts, as long as they help with your medical issue. I hope no one has any problems in the future, I wish you all the best of luck with your SD’s in public.

8 Dave and Gracie 06.18.12 at 10:07 am

On my birthday, yet!?!? The byline on this recent article had me shaking my head…At a Goodwill Store?…That can’t be! Well, holy-moley, it happened again! Despite the Federal Laws protecting individuals with disabilities from discrimination, the un-educated, closed-minded, dispassionate and plain old STUPID are attacking us!
Gracie and I have had enough of their crap! No more giving them, “The benefit of a doubt.” No more, “Trying to see things from their point of view.” Leave us alone or accept the consequences! We may be “Cripples” but, we’re not dead!
Sorry, I get excited, sometimes(-;

9 Jerry Holt 06.18.12 at 10:09 am

I do not have near as many problems bringing my service dog “Peanut” into places around town as I did several years ago. Peanut wears an orange vest with service dog patches on both sides that say simply “service dog”. Peanut also wears a photo Id that really seems to put people at ease. I certainly understand why a business needs your dog to be id’s as a service dog. It seems as though it would be very difficult for a business owner to explain your dog to other customers without ID. I guess I feel that having Peanut wear proper Id and his vest is a must do courtesy for me.


10 Hank Wilke 06.18.12 at 1:35 pm

I have a “Balance assist” Dog, due to a below knee amputaion of my right leg.
If I’m ever asked to leave because of my dog, I have a standard answer ready if ever needed.
“I will leave when the City Police, County Sheriff, or State Police
escort me out of the building, or when I am finished,. which ever comes first.”
I am ready to stand up for my rights,. as others should be ready to stand up for theirs also. Even if it means causing a “Scene”,. as I am sure I would be in the right,. and the athorities are well awear of these ADA laws.

11 wendy 06.18.12 at 4:24 pm

me n four others with service dogs attacked by aggressive two dogs. san diego police said they dont abide by ada law. i signed a animal conrol complaint man has to go court but si do we 250 miles from my home. mgrs hotel called police also. we have two police incident reports. i m filing title 2complaint with ada. as ada suggested.

12 Joe Kleinsmith 06.18.12 at 4:55 pm

EI travel full time in my RV. I have a letter from my VA Dr recognizing my Guillermo terrier a SD assisting me with my disability and a photo SD Badge. Whenever challenged or refused service like at a Ice Cream store in Old Town Brandon Mo, I kindly ask them to call the local police so I can get a police report with their name,the owners. and name of the business practices so I can attach it to at complaint to the Dept. of Justice. And after the DOJ investigates and fines them as expected, I will then sue each of. As the law permits.
I am retired Army and I still kick ass.
them to for discrimination. A

13 Anonymous 06.18.12 at 6:24 pm

The only time I ran into trouble I went home to the web site printed off the materials about the law and the possible fines for a complaint being filed and took it back to the location. That was the end of the problem.

If I get asked for ID I state firmly that they just broke the law. Most are so shocked they stop right there. He does wear a patch on his vest, and I have an ID card attached to his collar and one in my wallet, but I try to educate first. I always say you are legally allowed to ask 3 questions and that one is not a legal one: You may ask, “Is that a serivce dog?”, ” Are you disabled” and “What does the dog do”. If you would like the answers to the legal questions I will be more than glad to tell you.
I also have a card with a copy of the law on the back that I carry in my wallet.
I have never had to get any of it out. I usually just move the fur so the patch is easier to see and on we go.

14 Belinda Beurrier 06.18.12 at 6:27 pm

I am having issues at a local Winn-Dixie store in Ocala FL. I am not backing down. I sent a letter to their corporate office, just waiting to hear what they have to say. The managers roll their eyes or give me a look that says “I don’t believe you.” I have PSTD and my dog is trained, she wears a badge and is carried in a bag that has SERVICE DOG on it. I wear my land-yard too. To bad that some people think it is alright for management to be rude.

15 Kay and Rufus 06.18.12 at 6:51 pm

we have had a few problems. i think it is because Rufus is a yorkie. one of these days the stores, airlines and all will learn that small dogs work as service/assist dogs too. i have m/s and cant handle a big dog. every time there is a new person in one of the stores we go to, they question us. i have had trouble once flying, once a big problem at a Walmart, once at a Cracker Barrel. the funny thing there was it wasnt the employees that were upset. it was a customer and they were told by the wait staff that Rufus was a service dog. people need to learn that service/assist dogs come in all sizes. i am thankful for myboy

16 Kelly Rodriguez 06.19.12 at 10:34 am

I had the same thing happen to me at the Goodwill in Oak Ridge, Tn. The lady was very rude to me even when I showed her my dog’s id tag. I have a toy poodle medical alert dog who alerts me if I am going to have a lupus flare up, or seizure or any other health problem she sences. She gives me enough time to get home and lie down before it happens. She was on my lap in my wheelchair when I went into the Goodwill. The lady came up to me and shouted that no dogs were aloud in the store. I showed her my dogs id tag that has her picture, name and service dog in big letters. She said no that’s no good you have to have papers. I told her that legally I didn’t have to show her anything but I pulled out my dog’s registered service dog card from my wallet and showed it to her anyway. She was still rude to me so I just left. That is the last time I will ever shop at or donate to the Goodwill.

17 Allice Allen 06.19.12 at 10:56 am

I can’t tell you how many times I have been told I am not allowed in a store etc by some person that does not know the laws. Fred Meyer (Kroger) Stores I have had no problems, until last week a new manager. He came almost running at me to kick me out. I told him the laws and he quoted his corporate rules. I came home and called the corporate and they told me to ingore the manager and they would talk to him. I have all the SD tags for my animal and wear a large tag around my neck and still get dirty looks just from other customers. But I am not allowing them to push me out anymore, and complaining to the DOJ/ADA. My girl is dying she has CHF so I now use a barrier like a blanket in the child seat of the basket because she can’t walk far now, I get all kinds of garbage from worker’s about health laws, but remember she must be allowed to do her job which means she must alert me. I stand by it and when anyone wants to tell me company rules, local rules etc, I just stated that Federal Law overrides any state, local, city or corporation rules. Good Luck to us all and stand your ground me have rights too.

18 Deborah Russell 06.19.12 at 1:56 pm

A few months ago I had a similar problem at our local WalMart, when a employee was sorting plants in the garden area stepped up to me and very firmly said..l.”dogs are NOT allow in WalMart”. I politely said, Service Dogs are allowed and as you can see (ID tag on harness), he is my service dog. She seemed puzzled but said no more, it was obvious to me WalMart had not included ADA information when training this particular employee.
On that day he only had on a red harness and the ID tag. I since have found things go much smoother when I “dress” him in a clearly identifiable “Service Dog” vest with an attached handle (similar to what people are used to seeing on Seeing Eye dogs). I also attached a “Do Not Pet, I am Working” patch on the vest. I wish I didn’t have to do all that, but…the fact of the matter is, most people are still conditioned to Service Dog equal Seeing Eye Dog. Therefore I feel it behoves me to politely “educate ” them in the most friendly way I can. I do wish there was more national information on this whole subject via short infomercials on the TV.

Thanks for listening…good luck to ya’ll and stay positive!
Deborah & her Lhasa Apso, Rendezvous Ridge “Rebel”

19 JJoan 06.20.12 at 2:32 pm

I Have taken mine in in Seattle for years since 2004. However as a courtesy to the store and for good PR for service dogs, they wear a vest. I do carry documentation, a letter from my doctor, but never have been asked for it.

20 Kathryn 06.20.12 at 4:42 pm

Why is it that those of us who use service dogs feel the need to “prove” the dog is a real Service Dog? The law is very clear – there are no exceptions for ignorance. I have used a SD for 3 years and for 3 years I have smiled politely and held my tongue. My SD is a 110 lb Alaskan Malamute and wears a bright hot pink vest marked Service Dog and still there are people that can’t seem to get it through their heads that she is a Service Dog. And unfortunately, other disabled, wheelchair bound people face the same BS regarding accessability. But, just like Dave and Gracie, I am really getting tired of hateful, spiteful people.

21 Chris Riley 06.20.12 at 8:28 pm

I have had my service dog Tonya for a little over a year now. I live in a small town on Mobile Bay in Alabama. I have had a few accessibility issues and came up with a solution that quickly solves the problem. I bought(or you could make yourself) Service Dog ADA Rights cards to hand to anyone that has doubts about our access. I have yet to have to go beyond that point. Once they read the card and I educate them with a smile about her rights, the usually apologize and welcome us with open arms. I advise whomever that their lack of knowledge is a fault of their management and they should let that person kn0w the importance and the liability they put themselves in not knowing. I hope you never have the issue again, but if so, have your cards ready! LOL! You can see my best friends and service dog Tonya at the following FB address: Friend her if you would like to follow her and I on our journeys in life. Good luck!!!
For more info on rights and a place to purchase cards:

22 Dana Mayer 06.21.12 at 9:23 am

It probably happens more than we hear about, here’s another example A gal got kicked out of Ann Taylor.

It’s up to us to help people understand service dogs. In Florida, many people abuse the privilege as an excuse to take their silky terrier shopping or to break HOA restrictions.

I’m fortunate I have a visible disability I can show people. When I do, they are usually embarrassed and apologize. One grocer who yelled at me about my dog has a daily battle with people bringing dogs in his small shop from the beach. It is a health hazard for the public to have animals near food. I don’t envy workers having to sort out the truth from fiction! But let’s keep at it. Awareness is growing.

23 Dana Mayer 06.21.12 at 9:24 am

BTW It is my tag from this website that makes people comfortable that my dog is legit! Thank you thank you!

24 Denise Grillo Reed 07.17.12 at 12:04 am

I depend on a Sevice dog for the last four years and could not survive without him.My Husband and I moved to an Apartment Complex at Turnberry Place,Las Vegas.The Harrasment we have experienced is beyond believe-letters,hearings and rude behavior on the HOA and staff members.My Husband accompanies me in his scooter,as he is a disabled Veteran.We supplied Doctors notes,Service ID for our dog and my dissability ID card(which is international)due to our travels abroad.
The HOA does not allow us to ride with our Jack Russel Service dog in the Passenger Elevator and forcing us to use the Service Elevator,which is an insult to both of us.
Is there a way to file an official Complaint against the Board of the HOA,to travel in the regular Elevator?We put our Apartment on the market,as the stress is daily and too much to deal with.
Please advise!
Thank you for your help

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