Santa's "Helper" was very mean and rude to us

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Lily CGC- 2001-2014

Enjoying- Retirement
Barked: Sat Dec 24, '05 11:00pm PST 
Lily's mom here:

Let me first give you the setting first. A crowded mall the day before Christmas, at the Pictures with Santa area with young children and parents all around to see Santa.

Ok now that you know that let me tell you what happened. We kept on putting it off until the last minute. My sister is just 10yrs old (I'm 23) so you can understand that she wanted to go see Santa and get her picture taken before he left. So my mom and I brought her to the mall with Lily identified clearly with her vest on. My mom and I personally know the guy who was "santa" as he was postmaster in our town when I was growing up and played santa at the church's breakfast w/santa every year. He is a very nice guy. Santa was out on lunch break when we got there so we went for a walk around the mall. It was a good opportunity to put Lily in situations she wasn't used to.

We returned to the Santa area after a bit and waited in line for him to return. There were just a few people in front of us but plenty behind by the time he returned. When it was our turn I meantion Lily to the girl behind the counter and she said it was ok but when we got over to santa the guy (i guess the person/photographer in charge, not santa) starts wigging out on us. He started yelling about no dogs on HIS set and started yelling something about it being against health codes for her to be even on the CARPET. In order to exit the set you either have to make your way out of already crowded line which wouldn't easily negotiated or go across the carpeted area the guy was making such a big deal about. He made us walk through the narrow space behind the counter to get through. I told him about the laws, there was even a older guy outside the exit telling the guy it was against both state and federal laws but he wouldn't listen. I got on the other side and finally located Lily's ADA ID in my pouch and went to show the guy but it didn't help. He said, "it would just take one child to be allergic". The older guy pointed out a cop walking towards us and I quickly went up to him while the guy at the santa place called mall security and explained what was happening. The cop said there was a med emergency upstairs he needed to get to so he couldn't help me right then but I was then told security was on their way.

A security guard and his assistant showed up very promptly and to my surprise the assistant was none other than my anatomy class partner in high school. Boy did calling security backfire on the guy. I talked to them before he did and told them he was denying us access that he wouldn't let me get any closer than at least 15' of santa so I could hear what was going on with my sister. The security guard told the guy that he HAD to allow me and the dog on his set. The guy continued to argue with the security guard that he was not going to allow the dog on his set, he didn't care what the law was. Yes he actually said he didn't care about what the law said he had to do! The security guard said that if he wouldn't allow us up there then he would have to bring his santa elsewhere to take the picture but my sister had gotten her picture snapped by this time (I missed the whole thing because of this you know what). The security guard even held the side of the ADA card that states the laws 2" in front of the guys face while he was arguing. The guy told him it was too late because the picture had already been taken. He would not retake the picture. At this point we gave up and took the pictures from the guy who quietly said to my mom he just wanted to get rid of us. At this point I was very mad and upset about how that guy had treated us the older guy said it was christmas and I should just let it go but after the way that guy acted he's not getting off that easily.

We finished up the last minute stuff we had to do and returned home a few hours later. We told my dad what happened and he was really upset about it. He said we should have called him when it happened and he would have driven down to that mall and made the guy take my sister's picture with me and the dog in it. He said he would have raised heck and refused to remove her, even have her go sit by santa and refuse to leave until the guy took our picture. He'd darn him to just try to remove us since both security and the cops were on our side. My dad said if something like that ever happens again I'm to walk right in and refuse to leave and if the person tries to remove physically remove me kick them since he said it would be in self-defence once they touched me. I'm also not sure what Lily would do in a situation where I was being physically threatened. I don't think it would be pretty. She's never bitten anyone and I definately doubt she ever would. She is more of the type that would try to frighten the threat by growling. She uses a low growl or a quiet bark as a way to warning me about strangers behind me that I might not see at night. She also has such control over the pressure when using her mouth that she could probably pick up a balloon without popping it. She knows she isn't allowed to bite even when playing. Only once did she use her mouth to take a hand and gently push it away from her in a threatening situation without me right there which would have made her feel less stressed but the person (i knew she didn't) tried to pet her in a strange place with me about 20ft away outside at night. Plus she was on her bed behaving and gave him a low growl w/o teeth when he offered his hand yet still advanced. I think he was just testing her to see what she would do. He thought it was acceptable as she didn't really show aggression she just said "I'm not feeling comfortable with the situation please leave me alone". She also never moved off her bed during the whole thing.

We live in an area where there is a service dog training facility in the next town (30 min from the mall) and they frequently bring their dogs there so both security and police are well familiar with what those laws are and just about everywhere around here does too. It is very rare that anyone make a stink or have a problem and this is the first one we've come across locally. We've only had trouble out of state where the police were unfamiliar with what the laws were.

This guy was just so mean and got me so upset I almost started crying. Remember that this guy was also acting and saying this stuff around children and parents. What does that say to the kids about how people with service dogs should be treated?

Anyways my dad had me call and find out which police have jurisdiction over the mall as it is on the line between two towns. Before going to the family christmas party tonight we made a stop at that police station and filed a complaint with them. The policeman did take it seriously and wrote all that happened down. He said he'd get the name of the company in charge to include that on the complaint. On monday I'm going back to that mall with Lily and we are going to file a complaint with the mall's main office then find out the info on the company who was in charge and file a complaint with their CEO. Hopefully we will get results. We want our money back for the pictures which look horrible because of the look on the child's face (remember all this confusion was going on while they were taking it). Those pictures cost us $20.99 for just 5. My mom and I both missed out on what was going on with her because this guy was yelling at me. If I do get somewhere with the CEO I'm hoping he'd do something more than repremand his employee as his actions could result in a major lawsuit and cause the mall to hire a new company next year or fine them. The mall doesn't like it when the companies there don't follow their policies or rules and listen to security, they even will fine companies for something as minor as closing 5 minutes early and such. I'm not saying he should fire him though it would be appropriate with the way he was acting but I can hope for at least a suspension. If I'm unsatisfied with the results, I guess my next step is to file with the DOJ. We have NEVER been treated this way but so far everyone has been on our side.

I also really don't care about his excuses of health codes and allergies because I know both those are bull. I've already read about people using it as excuses to deny access. If the allergy is so bad that it disables the person so they qualify for the ADA laws then both people have to be accomodated and the SD cannot be denied access. Sneezing, watery eyes, and other symptoms that can be treated with medication do not qualify as a disability.

Both my mom and I are allergic to dogs. We both do not take allergy meds yet we don't have any problems with Lily unless she's been give a bath with fragrant shampoo or has on most doggy colognes. She doesn't shed much and we've found a shampoo and cologne that doesn't bother us. My sister's dog on the other hand does bug me. Especially after she has had an accident on their rug (her urine seems to trigger the asthma). I would highly doubt Lily spending 5-10 minutes sitting on the rug near santa would cause a serious allergic reaction. The risk is no higher than having her in any other store there and I didn't hear them complaining. I'm just still very mad about the whole thing and the fact we never got anywhere. Everywhere else we went in the mall the people welcomed her and the employees especially wanted to pet her.

Does anyone have some links of papers I can print up to present to the CEO about my rights and the consiquences of violating them?? I live in Ma and am not sure what the state laws say about violations. I think I read somewhere about a $200 fine.
SHADOW - RIP 14 June- 2014

Barked: Sat Dec 24, '05 11:37pm PST 
If it was ME... I would file a formal complaint with the Justice Dept on being denied access. I would get the Security guy to write a letter on your behalf and anyone else who tried to help. I would also get the name of the company/address he works for. The company could be fined $50,000 for a first offense and the jerk who did it to you could be fined $2,500. Also, let the Mall office know and get a copy of their mall policies if they have one.

I would not let this go by any means. Stand up for your rights and put in the complaint. It might take months to go thru the channels and if you win - THEY LOOSE!!!

Shadow and I encounterd a problem while my daughter's Irish Dance Championships was going on last month. We sat in there for four hours and nothing was said. Finally, the musician who took breaks during that time & never said anything started to gripe about her asthma problem - She was 6 feet away from Shadow. She had one of the Regional teachers come over to tell me to move to the other side of the room because of her asthma. I told her "NO" I don't have to move because its against the law for me to be segregated in a public venue. I told her that asthma is not a recognized disability under the ADA and mine is a permanent disability that is covered by the ADA. I never budged and stayed put for about another 20 min w/ the musician mouthing off to others around her. Then another teacher came over to me and told me to MOVE ASAP... I said NO>>> then she was making such a scene and disturbing parents who were trying to watch their daughters dance that I got up and gave them a lecture .. loud enough for others to hear - especially to the musician. I told the teacher that the next time I'm at a competition where anyone from this Region or a musican tells me to leave I will take your names down.. I will then put in a formal complaint to the Justice Dept and you (teacher), you (musician) will be charged a hefty fine of $2,500 a piece and this whole Region will be charged $50,000 for discrimination against me. So, this is a fair warning and you better remember the next time because I will file. The fine would be so heavy that the Region might have to go bankrupt and will never be able to hold this Championships again.

Their mouths dropped and the they both turned beet red. My friends gave a low clap and then I exited the room. As I was exiting I had people come up to me and said .. You can really do that to the people if they discriminate against you and your dog... YES and I gave them a warning that the next time it happens I won't let them get away with it.

So, call the Justice Dept next week to get the paperwork started. If you don't do it the jerk will continue to do it. He has to be stopped NOW...
Lily CGC- 2001-2014

Enjoying- Retirement
Barked: Sun Dec 25, '05 12:54am PST 
Applause for you performance there. I just wasn't aware of what the result is if it gets taken all the way. Those fines don't include any additional ones under the state laws right? I will get those papers and I can print out a complaint form from the ADA website or I may have so around here somewhere.

I do remember there was another time she wasn't allowed to be with me when I needed her. I was admitted to a psychiatric ward and none could be found that would allow her. I had their HR person call the ADA to get the laws straight and she said because I didn't need the dog to do any normal tasks other than emotional type support and keeping me calm they didn't have to allow her to stay with me since they were there to "replace" her while I was there but she could visit during normal visiting hours. I also had one hospital not allow me any contact with her the whole time I was there. I was going crazy without her which is eronic since I was already in the looney bin. I feel that as long as I'm physically able to take her out to potty even if it is with staff supervision then she should be allowed to stay with me. The ER has never objected to her being with me. One lab I won't go to anymore made her wait in the hallway alone with the door open while drawing blood. It was very hard for her to stay on task that long with people constantly walking by and seeing me flinching. I was also having trouble making sure she was doing what she was supposed to and staying out of the way while the person was sticking me (I'm a difficult stick). She was slowing inching closer to the doorway lol. I told them I doubted it would workout well. She will instead at other labs sit right up against me while they are doing that. So are all those places in the wrong?? Or are there exceptions?? I know about sterile areas and homes but I don't consider the lab area we were in a sterile environment no gowns or masks were required. I also heard that churches can deny access? I wouldn't know as I've never tried it but I don't think it would be a big deal here as long as she was quiet and behaving.

What really makes me wonder is that if he is that way to me as a customer, what would he be like if a person with an SD applied for a job through his company. He was obviously the person in charge at that location. It seems that they would discriminate against them no matter how qualified they were. He was an A+++ Jerk. All I can think of right now that keeps me from being too pissed off about it is the I-95 song (a parody). We've have the 45 in our jukebox since I was little. I can't quote the lyrics, not because they are that bad (there is worse on the radio today), but it contains one swear that is said more than once during the song. So it isn't appropriate to say in case children are reading but it can be downloaded by more mature audiences if you were to look for it (I won't say where either). Just something to hum to let off some steam and affectionately thinking the words of the song towards the guy lol.


Silent Observer
Barked: Sun Dec 25, '05 7:07am PST 
You might also want to give the service dog training facility nearby a heads up. Share your story - they probably would like to know and, if there have been other complaints, they may start warning other people with service dogs in your area about the horrible mall. That's a loss of business for them - and all because of some idiot elf. Does the facility help people become their own advocates? I would imagine that some training in that area would help quite a bit, too.

By the way, I have really bad allergies and asthma; my medication does not help all of my symptoms. Dogs are one of the very few things that I am not allergic to (whew!), but I am allergic to several other pets as well as most things that grow! Using the allergy or asthma excuse is a poor one, indeed. Very seldom is an individual allergic to ONLY dogs; they typically have some other allergy (like dust or pollens) to go along with it. Using the "logic" of allergies as a reason to not let your dog cross the carpet makes about as much sense as not letting a gardener or a smoker walk in the same area. The horrible, thick musk of a cigarette, for example, lingers for a very long time and, if I'm not mistaken, reaches far further than dog dander. Some of us can't be around smokers and do have to leave the area because their presence triggers an attack - and, yet, they're still allowed to smoke in some buildings and around the entrances that we all have to walk through. frown

(For future reference, both asthma and allergies are recognized as disabilites by the ADA - but most people's symptoms aren't bad enough for them to care about looking into it. There are a few of us, though, that are bad enough where we can be helped by the ADA, especially where our workplaces and schools are concerned.)

However, it sounds like that the person that Shadow encountered may have been one of the whiny asthmatics that make life more difficult for the severe asthmatics that really may have a problem bigger than a few sniffles. Athmatics and allergy sufferers do have to realize that one cannot avoid every trigger - that's why most people have medications that work all of the time. That's just my opinion, though. I thought that you may like to hear some thoughts from the allergic side of the fence. smile

Kudos to you and Lily! I'm sorry that some nasty "Helper" made the experience a bad one for your family. I hope that your sister is OK and that Lily gets some extra cuddles today.
Lily CGC- 2001-2014

Enjoying- Retirement
Barked: Sun Dec 25, '05 4:23pm PST 
I personally have had asthma all my life though it was much more severe when I was younger I'm still a chronic asthmatic. Even with my severe asthma it is not a disability. I think I would have to be on oxygen for it to be considered a disability by a dr. I have to carry an inhaler and use it more than once everyday. I know some of the things I'm allergic too (mostly pollens) and avoid what I can. My mom reacts so severely to hay that it can cause a medical emergency. She knows this and stays away from it and keeps an epipen. Pretty much every type of asthma can be treated to some degree with medications to prevent attacks. Much of asthma is psychological. You get a little tight and your mind panics without you realizing it. I've been even told by drs that you can unconsciously trigger an attack. That girl was obviously experiencing that. She decided she was allergic. The dog was obviously not close enough to be causing a reaction. Maybe she was afraid of dogs so was having a panic attack she thought was her asthma. It would be different if the dog was right there rubbing itself against her and licking her. In order for something like that to be a disability a dr would have to confirm it if you wanted to push the issue. Still they cannot discriminate against either person. They must accomodate both equally.

Lily got a giant bone for christmas which she deserved as she stayed so well behaved during the whole thing. She will get to eat it tomorrow. I'm going to add her christmas pictures to her page.

Barked: Sun Dec 25, '05 4:46pm PST 
I too have asthma, related to things not animal related. I am allergic to mold, which is present in the HVAC system at work. My house has no duct work, its radiant heat and window air. I have no symptoms here, only at work. I take benadryl. there is no excuse for not allowing a SD dog in these circumstances. benadryl is easily obtained in a mall, and this whole situation could have been easily avoided with a little forethought on their part. there will always be SD dogs, the santa people should have thought of that beforehand...

The best things- come in little- packages
Barked: Mon Dec 26, '05 3:12pm PST 
Wow - I can't believe the guy was such a jerk.

I can't offer you any advice, but this just reminded me that two of the malls in our area were actually letting Santa take pictures with dogs! It was so cool. A friend of mine did it, but we just went to Petsmart.
Farrah- ♥12/9- 7-3/06

I love Bosco,- Jack & GR
Barked: Tue Dec 27, '05 3:44pm PST 
I have asthma too and I hate to say this, but it is NOT pyschological. You CANNOT unconsciously trigger an attack. Asthma is the inflammation on the bronchial tubes. It NEEDS a trigger to cause an attack...anything from STRESS to HOT WEATHER can cause it. So can allergies. Yes, you may panic if you have one...lord knows I have, but it wasnt the panicking that caused it. The panicking CAN make it worse. Try that on top of Diabetes. There are medicines out there that can control the attacks. I take Advair. It prevents inflammation.

Farrah's Mom

Live each day as- if it were your- last
Barked: Tue Dec 27, '05 8:21pm PST 
What a jerk, that is really sad that you were treated that way.
Mom took me to several malls and got my picture taken with Santa (about 4 different malls). All of them were really nice and even let my mom take the picture with her camera (they weren't very crowded). How sad that someone would act like that around children.
Nolte (Retired Guide Dog)

Guide dog work- is a joyous- thing!
Barked: Tue Dec 27, '05 9:35pm PST 
What an idiot! Glad you're not letting it drop... that moron needs to be taught a serious lesson, and hopefully by making a formal complaint and pursuing this legally you'll get some results.

Bravo to your dad for sticking up for you the way he does! And he was right... you should've just trotted right up there and sat beside Santa and refused to move. There's nothing the creep could've done to make you leave... he'd have had to either take your pic, or had someone else do it... or, screw him, he'd have lost a LOT of business that day, cuz if it were me, I'd not budge. LOL

As far as the facility that denied allowing you to have your dog with you, that was perfectly legal. Hospitals and other inpatient health facilities can in fact deny access to service dogs. They and churches are exempt from the laws under ADA. I've fortunately been very lucky in this regard, as when I've been hospitalized over the years the staff at the hospitals have been very accommodating and gave me no problem keeping my dog. But, it was a courtesy, they did not have to let me keep him with me.

As for asthma/allergies... I have both. But I've yet to meet a person with either asthma or allergies who would use a SD to help them. There's really no task a dog would have to perform that a person with asthma or allergies can't do for themselves. And no, having a dog fetch meds for a person with asthma or allergies, IMO, would be ridiculous and abusing the use of a SD. Asthma and/or allergies can be treated... these do not cause such a physical disability that a dog would be necessary. Having a psychiatric disability is a completely different story... such disabilities can and do in fact cause a person to be unable to retrieve meds, etc. But asthma and allergies? Nope, doesn't cut it.

I wish you the very best in your pursuit of this matter... and please keep us posted!

Karen Ann
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