woman in green hoodie sitting in her vehicle sharing her experience with the manager at Harmons because her service dog

@caninetri0/TikTok @utetastic/Instagram

‘She’s legally required to be off leash’: Store manager comes for woman’s allergy detection dog, says it can’t be ‘sniffing products’

‘I explained kindly that it’s her job to smell and alert to any allergens/or safe products.’

 

Braden Bjella

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Service dogs can fill many roles for those who need them. Separate from “therapy” or “emotional support” animals, service animals are “trained to perform a task directly related to a person’s disability,” per the Americans with Disabilities Act website. This can include everything from an animal guiding someone who has vision impairment, to an animal alerting someone with epilepsy that they’re about to have a seizure and making sure they’re safe when the seizure occurs.

As a result of this training, service animals have numerous legal protections that other animals, emotional support or otherwise, do not. These include, among other protections, being allowed in spaces where animals are generally not otherwise allowed.

Still, some people do not understand the rights afforded to those who require service animals, as TikTok user @caninetri0 recently noted following an experience at a Harmons grocery store location.

@caninetri0 Yeaterday I was told my allergy detection service dog can not be “sniffing products.” I explained kindly that it’s her job to smell and alert to any allergens/or safe products. I’ve been coming to this store for years and never had a problem. I’ve seen real service dogs and fake ones. But never have I been told that my dog can’t do her job. This manager in the end found out she was indeed wrong. Why did she come and threaten to make me leave if she was uneducated in the first place? I normally don’t post this stuff, however I want you all to be aware that this can happen.. I am going to get some allergy detection/ sniffing patches to hopefully help for next time. #allergydetectiondog #dogtraining ♬ original sound – Service Schnauzer

In a video with over 1.1 million views, the TikToker says that she entered the store with her dog, who was off-leash. The TikToker notes in a later video that the service dog is multipurpose, but was visibly acting in the store in a manner consistent with tasks related to detecting allergens.

For context, some people with severe allergies utilize service animals to ensure what they purchase is free from allergens. As manufacturers can fail to note common allergens, service animals like these can be literal lifesavers for those with severe allergies.

Furthermore, while service animals are generally required to be “harnessed, leashed, or tethered while in public places,” there are exceptions made for situations in which doing so would “interfere with the service animal’s work.” This may include, as the TikToker later explained, exploring an area for triggers for a PTSD victim, or being able to get help if someone requires medical attention or has a severe reaction to something.

Upon entering the store, the TikToker says she was approached by a manager, who told her she needed to put her dog on a leash. The TikToker responded by noting that the dog had to be off-leash per ADA requirements, which the manager allegedly said went against company policy.

After the manager apparently dropped the issue, they returned to tell the TikToker that the dog could not smell the products in the store, citing a health code issue. As allergy detection service animals do not have to touch a product in order to smell it, it’s unclear what the alleged health code violation would be. 

The TikToker responded by saying that the dog has to smell the products. The manager refused, then asked for certificates documenting the dog’s status as a service animal.

This is a direct violation of the ADA. Per the ADA website, “If you are working at a business or state/local government facility…You are not allowed to: request any documentation that the dog is registered, licensed, or certified as a service animal.”

The TikToker attempted to explain this to the manager, though it seemed that they were not fully comprehending the information. By the end, it appears the manager learned that they were incorrect in their statements about the dog.

“I’ve been coming to this store for years and never had a problem,” the TikToker noted in the caption. “I’ve seen real service dogs and fake ones. But never have I been told that my dog can’t do her job.”

“This manager in the end found out she was indeed wrong,” the TikToker continued. “Why did she come and threaten to make me leave if she was uneducated in the first place?”

In the comments section, users complained about the treatment received by the TikToker.

“Unfortunately most places don’t train for us,” wrote a user. “it’s ridiculous.”

“Call HR. Make it a heavy suggestion that they require training about service dogs,” offered another.

“Every job needs to go through training about service dogs,” suggested a third.

The TikToker noted in the caption and comments that she would be seeking out patches noting the dog’s specific tasks to prevent incidents like these from occurring in the future.

The Daily Dot reached out to the TikToker via TikTok comment and Harmons via its press agency.

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