Today in news that only makes sense if you bash your head with a rock a few times, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing was kicked out of retailer TJ Maxx over her service dog.
Retailer and place I buy a lot of purses I never end up using TJ Maxx is apologizing like crazy today after a manager in Nashua, New Hampshire reportedly told a young woman who survived Boston Marathon bombing to put her service dog in a cart or leave the store. Via WCVB:
Sydney [Corcoran] said she informed the manager that Koda is a service dog and that he wouldn't be able to fit comfortably in the carriage. The manager, she said, told her the carriage was a new policy, and that she was required to comply.
Sydney, embarrassed, left the store and called [her mother Celeste, who lost both legs in the bombing]. She raced over to TJ Maxx and let the manager know she had violated her daughter's rights.
"She said, 'I'm sorry.' And I said, 'That's not good enough. You should have known,'" Celeste said. "You just made someone with an emotional disorder so much worse."
Sydney Corcoran, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, told WCVB her dog Koda is vital to her everyday life. "Honestly, I sleep better now. I used to have a really hard time trying to sleep because my mind would always just be going in overdrive," she said. "It's knowing that I have this little support system that's all my own. He's my little cheerleader. "
TJ Maxx corporate office has since publicly apologized for the incident. "We are taking this customer matter very seriously," the chain said in a statement. "Customers with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals are welcome in our stores at any time."
Some have questioned whether the dog is an actual service dog or a therapy dog (which are not covered under the same legal guidelines as official service dogs.) According to the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs, dogs are extremely beneficial in the therapeutic process, but to fit the requirements of a "service dog," the animal must undergo specific training. It should be pointed out that Sydney Corcoran identifies Koda as a service dog. While it may not seem like a big deal to your or I to put our dog in a cart, that's not really how service dogs work.
But it seems unlikely that the store manager's issue whether the dog fit the specific parameters of a "service dog." Could this have been a case of "she doesn't look 'disabled' so she's probably not really hurt"? Maybe that's why the store manager pressed the issue? It's important to remember survivors don't always fit the stereotypical movie of the week image that some people can't seem to rid themselves of. "There are so many people with invisible, silent injuries — and the public needs to be aware that their service animals are sometimes their lifeline," Celeste Corcoran said.
Screencap via WCVB.