Midland Woman Claims Business Asked Her To Leave Because of Service Dog 9/30/13
CBS 7 News
September 30, 2013
A Midland woman with disabilities says a shopping trip went terribly wrong when a store employee told her to leave because of her medically prescribed service dog. She feels she was a victim of discrimination. But the store says they threw her out because she was being confrontational.
Misty Barton says she is deaf in one ear and suffers from a seizure disorder, her world could turn upside down at any moment, so her service dog tanner is by her side wherever she goes.
"I need my dog, I told him, ‘I am deaf’ and he said to everyone, ‘oh she can hear me..she's not deaf’, he made fun of me," Barton said of her interaction with a Spirit Halloween employee.
Misty's world did turn upside down Saturday when she says she asked employees at Spirit Halloween to let her and her dog come back after the store was closed to make sure the dog didn't disturb other customers.
"He said 'no, as a matter of fact, this store doesn't allow dogs. They said, you're going to have to go.’” Barton said.
However, the store's district manager says their policy does allow for service dogs.
"Company policy does not allow customers to come after closing, when we told her that, she began saying profanities and we asked her to leave because of her language, not because of her dog,” said District Manager of Spirit Halloween Jacob Halverson. "We didn't realize it was a service dog initially."
The Americans With Disabilities Act protects service dogs in public -- businesses can only ask two questions to identify them.
"We have not specifically trained on that, but our employees are aware of our policy to allow service dogs,” said Halverson.
Barton admits she may have been argumentative--but only after being told to leave because of her dog.
“This is why we don't come out, this is why people with disabilities that are not visible stop living and hide,” said Barton.
The store says it will evaluate training for employees on how to deal with people with service dogs.
As of deadline, The City of Midland had not been able to provide a copy of this incident's police report.
The store's owner tells CBS 7 that no surveillance camera footage is available of the incident.