The mother of two autistic boys was punched in the face by a McDonalds manager in Marietta, Georgia. According to WSBTV, on July 12, Jennifer Schwenker had brought her twin boys and their service dog, Barkley, to the McDonalds. A surveillance tape shows one of the boys and Barkley playing in the McDonalds playplace area. It was only as the family was on the verge of leaving that Tiffany Denise Allen, the manager who was off-duty at the time, told Schwenker that the dog was not allowed in the McDonalds.
Schwenker explained that Barkley was a service dog for her two children and offered to show a permit. Under federal law, service dogs are allowed in public places such as restaurants. But after that, as shown by a surveillance tape, Allen followed the family, even to the restroom. When Schenker and her children tried to leave, she lost track of one child and — I can more than relate to this, recalling how I’ve panicked when I’ve lost sight of my 14-year-old son Charlie — she dropped her drink and splashed Allen. After this, Allen ran “in a rage” after Schwenker to her car and punched her in the face.
Marietta police Detective Gwen Lewis told Davis that she has never seen anything like it.
Schwenker did not want to speak to Davis about the incident, but her husband said they are talking to a lawyer.
Allen is charged with battery assault and disorderly conduct.
The owners of the store said they are “fully cooperating with the police department in their investigation” and have terminated Allen, who has also been issued an arrest warrant.
Allen’s behavior was certainly extreme. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one who has — in contradiction to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) — said that service dogs are not allowed in restaurants, grocery stores and other places.
According to Life With Dogs, an Albuquerque Hooters restaurant refused to serve Air Force Master Sergeant Justin Jordan because of his licensed service dog, Dallas. Jordan suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and says that Dallas has helped him to go out more in public. Even after Jordan showed documentation that Dallas was a service dog, the restaurant manager called police to remove Jordan and Dallas — and then, even after the police sided with Jordan, the restaurant manager refused to serve them.
Further, the New Haven Register reports that Air Force veteran Kim Mucha has been told she will be arrested for trespassing if she returns to the Big Y Supermarket in North Haven, CT, after her service dog, Ivy, defecated in the store’s aisle. Mucha noted that she cleaned up after her dog immediately and has “seen old people and kids make messes on the floor and nobody ever threatened to have them arrested.”
Clearly more than a few businesses need to review what the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) says about service animals and the essential function they serve for many Americans.
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Photo by Crjs452 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons