Woman says shopper kept harassing her in the middle of her medical episode, asked her to move so she could look at clothes

@serviceaussiebailey/TikTok

‘You don’t look like you need a service dog’: Woman says JCPenney shopper kept harassing her during her medical episode, asked her to move out of the way

‘Even without a service dog, if I see someone sitting on the floor…I’ll ask if they are OK.’

 

Braden Bjella

Trending

People with service animals face all sorts of discrimination in their everyday lives. Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act legally protects service dogs, those who require their use find that they are mistreated, not allowed into businesses, or simply mocked for having them.

For example, one blind TikToker said that he was kicked out of a restaurant because the manager did not believe he was blind. Another user documented how her allergy detection dog caused her to be confronted by a grocery store’s management, and several users have shown the difficulty of hiring a rideshare while one has a service animal.

To be clear, service dogs have a definition set by the ADA marking them as distinct from other categories like emotional support animals. As the ADA explains, “A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” This training can range from visual assistance for the visually impaired to calming those with PTSD during the onset of their symptoms.

Now, a TikTok user with a service animal has gone viral after documenting an interaction they had with a fellow customer while at JCPenney.

A medical episode interrupted

In a clip with over 14.2 million views as of Friday, TikTok user Katie (@serviceaussiebailey) says that, while sitting on the ground after her dog alerted her to an oncoming medical episode, she “noticed that this lady kept walking around and just glaring at me.”

“Excuse me,” the lady eventually says. “Is there a reason you’re just sitting here on the floor?”

“Um, I’m currently having a medical episode,” Katie responds.

The woman was not satisfied with this answer, questioning why Katie couldn’t sit elsewhere and saying that she was “in the way.”

“I literally cannot move,” Katie answers. “If I move, I run to a medical episode.” In the text overlaying the video, Katie adds that she occasionally has difficulty forming sentences when experiencing medical episodes.

“You obviously had to move to get here, so you can’t just move a little bit further?” the woman asks.

“You cannot be serious right now,” Katie states in disbelief. “Are you joking?”

After a bit of arguing instigated by the woman, Katie says that she will be all right without further medical intervention, as she’s just taken medication and has to wait for it to “kick in.” Furthermore, she says that her service dog is assisting her during this time, so no further intervention is needed.

“Respectfully, you don’t look like you need a service dog,” the woman answers.

As the video progresses, the argument continues, with the woman saying that the store they are in, JCPenney, is not pet friendly, with Katie countering that her animal is not a pet, but a service animal. The woman is not an employee of JCPenney, but a fellow shopper.

The law on service animals

Katie is correct in stating that her service dog is not a pet. As noted above, service animals are a legally distinct category from pets, and those who use them are offered several protections to ensure the animal can perform its job uninhibited.

“Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go,” notes the ADA website.

Furthermore, while the woman claims to have a dog allergy, the ADA specifically notes that allergies are not reason enough to disallow service dogs from entry into a location.

“Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals,” the website states.

@serviceaussiebailey While going through a medical episode , this person kept walking by and clearly was angry at me. I decided to record for my safety but also I did not feel comfortable making it noticeable that I was recording her behavior. I could barely form sentences and my speech was slower due to my ongoing medical decline. If you are having a bad day, please do not take it out on others. 🥲 I barely want to leave my house because of interactions like Unfortunately while filming, my phone died during the last bit but she ended up walking up to the clothing she was desperate to look at. (It was about 1ft away from me). I just sat there trying to stay calm and she looked at the price then left. Idk what she gained from that. #servicedog #POTS #foryou #karen ♬ original sound – Bailey and Katie

Viewers share their thoughts

In the comments section, users offered their thoughts on the interaction shown in the video.

“POTS sufferer here, people don’t get that sometimes we have to sit down before the floor comes up to greet us. And the fog during episodes makes it hard to tell people to f off eloquently,” a user said.

“If I saw someone sitting n the ground with a service dog, my first move would be asking if they are ok & can I do anything to help?” offered another.

“The only acceptable thing to say to someone having a medical episode on the floor is ‘would you like some help,’” echoed a third.

This isn’t the first time Katie has been questioned for having a service dog, either. In one TikTok previously covered by the Daily Dot, Katie is questioned inside a Target for having her dog with her in a store that “sells food.”

The Daily Dot reached out to JCPenney via email and Katie via Instagram direct message.

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