A Marine veteran was asked to leave a Lenexa, Kansas, convenience store last week because of his service dog, despite the veteran kindly explaining to the clerk that such an act was against the law.
“Discrimination shouldn’t happen and it definitely shouldn’t happen to somebody who served the country. Not just me, but anyone who has served the country,” Ryan Foster told reporters after the incident.
Foster said he visits JB’s One Stop Convenience Store a couple of times a week to buy a soda, but on his last trip when he went to the counter to pay for his items, the clerk “very aggressively” told him he needed to leave.
“When I asked why, she said it was because of my dog,” Foster said and added that he explained to the clerk that the dog, Beauty, is his service dog, but the clerk responded with an even uglier comment. “She told me that I’m not blind or deaf that I don’t need a service dog,” Foster said.
Foster has, however, suffered numerous heart attacks, a stroke, and seizures, and now, Beauty never leaves his side. In fact, the highly trained canine can sense chemical changes in Foster’s body, and, in turn, warn him of an episode before it occurs. Additionally, if Foster ever becomes incapacitated during such an episode, Beauty is trained to go alert the nearest human for help.
Foster said he called the police after the incident at the store, but they weren’t much help.
“I was very insistent in ‘you are wrong about this’ the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says you can’t discriminate against anybody for any reason,” Foster recalled. “[The officer] turned to me and said, ‘it’s a private establishment, they can do what they want,’ and he left.”
Unfortunately, according to Kevin Owens, a volunteer with Battle Buddy Service Dogs, a Kansas City non-profit that provides service dogs for veterans, said such cases are very common. Owens called it frustrating and said businesses need to be better educated.
“It’s all about alerting the public, alerting private businesses and letting them know that this isn’t right,” Foster agreed.
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