A mother is calling out the owner of a Maine store for discrimination after he asked her daughter to leave because she was accompanied by a service dog.
Sue Richard wrote about the owner’s “despicable behavior” in a Facebook post on Tuesday. According to the post, Richard visited Bingham General Store in Bingham, Maine, on Sunday with her family. She writes that her daughter, Devan Demmons, was “kicked out of the store” by its owner, Timothy Earle.
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In her post, the mom explains how Earle refused to abide by ADA laws, which grant service dogs legal access in “no-pets” public areas and her daughter was distraught after the incident.
“She was in her truck crying. She felt humiliated and embarrassed to say the least,” Richard wrote. “She said she tried to explain to Mr. Earle that her dog was a service dog and tried to give him information regarding the ADA laws. It didn’t make a difference, he didn’t want to hear it, and proceeded to kick her out regardless.”
Last year, Demmons made history walking the stage at the 2018 Mrs. Maine International Pageant with her service dog, Duke, marking the “first time” a service animal was included in a pageant, Patient Worthy reported. She declined to comment to Yahoo Lifestyle on the incident.
In her Facebook post, Richard wrote that her daughter suffers from dysautonomia, which is an autonomic nervous system disorder; postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which impacts blood circulation in the body; Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a disease that weakens connective tissues, as well as “various other complications” from her illness. She described how a service dog is able to indicate when her daughter is about to have a syncope episode and faint — which gives her time to “get down to the floor” and minimize any injuries she might sustain falling down.
Since the incident, Timothy Earle has publicly apologized. While he did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, the owner admitted that he made a “huge mistake” in a Facebook post on Tuesday and said he didn’t understand the laws that protect service animals.
“I am working hard to understand laws that are complicated. Service animals are one area (of so very many) that I don’t understand,” his post reads. “We are learning as we go. With every mistake I feel there is an opportunity to learn and grow. This error will not happen again.”
However, while Richard wrote that she accepts Earle’s apology, she clarifies that she will be using the incident to “raise awareness” and “educate the public” about discrimination and disability.
“My daughter may be the face of this instance but it represents all people with disabilities. The effect you had on her was devastating. You humiliated and embarrassed her in front of everyone in the store,” the mom wrote. “I hope that next time something like this occurs, you have compassion, respect, and find kindness in your heart to show a little willingness to listen to the person speaking to you.”
She adds how vital it is for people to understand how important service animals can be to give people — like Demmons — the chance to live normal lives.
“She, through all the adversities life has thrown her, does not need this discrimination by others, especially business owners,” Richard adds. “This would be equivalent to denying someone with a wheelchair or oxygen tank service.”
Richard did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
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