Costco, Kmart Accused Of Discriminating Against Service
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 12, 2003
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON & PARADISE, CALIFORNIA--Within the last week, there have been at least two West Coast news stories regarding discrimination against service dogs at large U.S. shopping chains.
Last Thursday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Susan Grill and her sister have filed a lawsuit against Costco Wholesale Corp claiming that, on several occasions over the past three years, employees refused to admit her with her service dog into Costco warehouses or otherwise limited their access.
Grill's service dog can predict epileptic seizures and warn her in advance. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington, alleges that employees questioned Grill about her use of a service dog and asked her to remove the animal in some instances.
A Costco executive said that the company does not let animals into its warehouses unless they are 'identifiable service animals'. He added that the company is looking into the claims.
On Tuesday, a Paradise, California man was arrested for trespassing when he refused to remove his wife's service dog from a local Kmart.
Michael Lugauer followed his wife, Karen, who has multiple sclerosis, into the Kmart. On a leash, Lugauer had Lucy, Karen's three-month old German shepherd. When Lugauer went to the counter of a Little Caesars Pizza franchise inside the store, the counter attendant reportedly denied him service because he could not prove Lucy is a certified service dog.
According to a story in Tuesday's Chico Enterprise Record, Lugauer began to yell "Hey, you can't do this!"
A Kmart assistant manager said she ordered Lugauer to leave the store. When he refused, store security personnel placed him under citizen's arrest until Paradise police arrived.
Lugauer was charged with trespassing and was released late Tuesday.
"It's best if the dog is certified, but they don't have to be," explained Shannon Jorgensen, operator of K-9 Crossroads, an Oroville school that trains service dogs. "As long as the dog is well-behaved and not a threat to anyone, it should be considered a companion animal for the disabled."
Lugauer later said he had been asked to leave with the dog on another occasion two weeks ago. He had deliberately taken the dog into the store Tuesday, expecting to be cited but not arrested.
"Couple with dog denied service at Paradise Kmart" (Chico Enterprise-Record)
"Access Denied - Now What?" (Delta Society -- National Service Dog Center)