People bringing their pet dogs into grocery stores can be dangerous — especially for those who depend on service dogs to help them with a disability.
That’s just what happened to a woman named Dominique recently at her local Walmart. Dominique, who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), relies on a service animal to help her when she is out in public. She has a dog named Mya, who is a medical K9 in training.
In a video captured on Dominique’s cell phone, a man is shown walking a Chihuahua through the aisles. The dog locks eyes with Mya, and not wearing a service dog vest, begins to whine and pull on the leash.
When Dominique notices the dog, she gives Mya some commands and confronts the man, who claims he is a disabled veteran who needs the small dog for service animal purposes.
Dominique, however, wasn’t convinced. The dog with him was never given any cues and was behaving in a very anxious manner. This is not how service animals typically behave.
The whole time, Mya stood right next to Dominique, obeying her commands.
“You know you can’t have pet dogs in here?” she says to the man. “That is a pet, the way it’s behaving. [Service animals] don’t whine.”
That’s when the situation turned hostile. The man shakes his hand at Dominique, telling her to stop calling him out.
“I’m not saying you are not disabled. What I am saying is that you cannot have another dog in here, whining at another service animal,” she says as he walks away. “You’re not the only one with PTSD in here!”
The situation clearly left Dominique a bit shaken, as she can then be seen talking to the audience on her cell phone. At one point, she hugs Mya and sits down in the aisle with her. Mya comforts her by sitting down in her lap.
After the incident, Dominique uploaded the video to her YouTube channel called Service Dog Paws, where she posts videos about service dogs and disabilities. Commenters online supported Dominique, appreciating her for raising awareness about the risk that pets can pose for service dogs in public areas.
“Is it that hard for people to abide by the law?” one commenter said. “Mya did so well! Love you guys. Sorry this happened.”
While the law protects service animals and allows them to be inside public places, it’s becoming increasingly popular for people to bring their pet dogs into these same areas masquerading as service dogs. This not only poses a safety risk for true service animals, but also for their handlers. Distracting a service dog from their work – even for a few seconds – can have disastrous consequences.
Hopefully, this video will help spread awareness about fake service animals — and encourage anyone who genuinely needs a service animal to seek one out through proper, legal channels. In any case, Mya did a wonderful job reacting to the situation!