On Monday, July 9, Ashley Fitzpatrick and her service dog, Kona, were about to enter the Walmart in Spanish Fork, Utah, when an employee stopped them. The employee said Kona must be on a leash to enter the building, then accused Fitzpatrick of faking a disability so she could bring her dog with her.
Fitzpatrick told local news station KUTV that Kona helped her to deal with anxiety and depression. Kona is also trained to comfort Fitzpatrick if she has a panic attack, which has helped her gain the stability to go out in public far more than she used to.
According to Fitzpatrick:
There have been weeks where I haven't left the house and now it's to the point where I'm out every day.
@FoxNews The real question is, what does Utah and Federal laws say? Are service animals required to be on a leash?… https://t.co/vlFEroPZxs— J. B. Maguire (@J. B. Maguire) 1531443157.0
Fitzpatrick found the employee's words especially hurtful considering all she and Kona have been through:
How can you say that to someone like me? Even though it's a mental disability, it's just as debilitating.
@FoxNews Service dogs are allowed anywhere. I know mine is anyway I've never had an issue. There has to be more to this.— 🇺🇸 Harry G. Good Jr Deplorable🇺🇸 (@🇺🇸 Harry G. Good Jr Deplorable🇺🇸) 1531442222.0
Walmart issued a statement apologizing for their employee's actions:
We're committed to providing a safe shopping experience for those shoppers and associates relying on assistance from service animals. We appreciate our customer bringing this to our attention and have apologized.
@FoxNews good. harassment shouldn’t take place anywhere near our dogs of service— Daniel (@Daniel) 1531442232.0
Employees from the Spanish Fork store reached out to Fitzpatrick to help make things right. A store manager wrote on Facebook:
I had the pleasure of meeting Ashley and her wonderful dog Kona this afternoon. Walmart is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable shopping experience for our customers who rely on service animals, and we look forward to working with Ashley and Kona to drive awareness and provide support for the service animal community. Kona is a beautiful fantastic support for Ashley and I am thankful that we were able to come to a resolution to turn this into a positive experience.
Other people with service animals have been in similar situations and all seem to agree: harassment like this must stop.
"Dear @Walmart, This is the third time I have been harassed by employees regarding my service dog, and I have had i… https://t.co/uRLEcGJ4Jc— Laren (@Laren) 1531297060.0
Dear @Walmart, It is your job to educate your employees about respecting your #customers. If your customer has a s… https://t.co/rMFLB0UAvd— Janice McIntire-Stearn (@Janice McIntire-Stearn) 1531331486.0
Oh the hassle I got when I relied in a service dog. Walmart in Hanover, ON was the worst. I was treated like a crim… https://t.co/f1Gp0ss6x0— Susan (@Susan) 1531836910.0
And, after all, at the end of the day, people just love dogs!
Today there was a Great Dane service dog in Walmart and I got to pet him. Today was a good day— Moksha Moon (@Moksha Moon) 1501566479.0
Forget 2 ask name service dog in Walmart @1720maryknoll @dreneehawkins @SjCattledog @RIHANNON1967 @T_Fahrney… https://t.co/3Jca0w7lDY— michael eddy (@michael eddy) 1498601614.0
*sees service dog walking around Walmart* Me: I can't pet him, he's doing his job Also me: JUST ONE PET LOOK HOW… https://t.co/dcHbLA2Hfb— Taylor Elmore (@Taylor Elmore) 1479428088.0