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Woman: Starbucks Worker Ordered Service Dog Out of Store
By RACHEL BARNHART | firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Kaplan suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago. The 24-year-old Brighton woman now needs a service dog to perform a variety of tasks.
"Zero means everything to me," she said. "He's given me my life back."
Kaplan and Zero went for a long walk Sunday. They stopped into the Starbucks at Twelve Corners.
"One of the employees told me to immediately get out and I informed him that my dog is a service dog for a medical disability," Kaplan said.
Kaplan took out her phone and began to record the incident.
On her video, Kaplan can be heard saying, "Are you denying me service because of my service dog?"
The employee responded, "No I'm not. I'm telling you that you can't come in with your service dog."
Zero was not wearing his service vest during the outing. Kaplan said it was too hot outside and she didn't anticipate stopping into the store.
On the Kaplan's video, the worker, said, "I see no proof that that's a service dog. Service dogs are licensed."
According to the federal government's website detailing frequently asked questions about service dogs, businesses cannot deny service to anyone with a service dog. They also cannot ask to see proof an animal is working as a service dog.
"I felt humiliated because every customer in that store saw what was going on and I could see some of them were getting upset," Kaplan said.
Starbucks tells News 8 it the company is reaching out to Kaplan to apologize. "Starbucks does welcome service animals. Unfortunately, Ms. Kaplan had an unacceptable experience and it is not consistent with our policy," said a spokeswoman. She added the company will reinforce the rules regarding service animals.
Kaplan posted her video to YouTube and social media. She wanted to raise awareness about the rights of people with service dogs. She said some of the comments on her video made her cry.
"I had people telling me I don't appear to be disabled. I have an invisible disability," Kaplan said. "Just because I'm not in a wheelchair or I'm not blind does not mean I'm not disabled."
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