Deborah Ellis | Service Dogs: No Vest Required

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My teenage daughter and I were at the Valencia Town Center Mall (recently) with her registered service dog when she got verbally attacked by an adult couple who followed her into the Vans store with their service dog and became extremely combative, claiming that she and her dog were unworthy and devaluing her right to be in the store because they claimed it wasn’t a “real service dog” because her dog wasn’t wearing an identifiable vest.

To avoid any further conflict with the couple, we left the store and took a seat outside because the verbal attack resulted in my daughter becoming extremely distraught.

Soon after taking a seat outside the store, an employee from the store approached us, apologizing, saying that the couple was completely out of line and that they get dogs in there all time that don’t have vests on and that right after we left, another couple (husband and wife) walked into the Vans store with their service dog that also didn’t have a vest on. The couple that verbally attacked my daughter didn’t say two words to them about their dog. So my daughter and I walked back into the store. While standing in front of the combative couple, we proceeded to the couple that was in the store with their dog without a vest and asked them if they too had been confronted and harassed by the couple for bringing their dog into the store without a service vest on, and the kind lady said, “No, they didn’t say anything to us about our dog,” and she looked at the combative couple, and said to them, “The dogs are not required to have a vest on.”

My whole point here with the story is that I want to make it known to all residents of SCV what the laws are regarding identification rules of service dogs so that other people who encounter combative, ignorant people who don’t know the law, don’t fall victim to harassment like my daughter did.

I would like to get a coalition together at the Valencia Town Center Mall of all service dogs who don’t wear a vest to hear our voices in order to make a statement that we have just as much right to be there as any other persons with their dog with or without identification.

Deborah Ellis

Canyon Country

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