Service dogs are more common than not in the 21st century. They are being used for anxiety as well as for patients that are disabled in one way or another. Yancy Baer, an army veteran who lost his leg to bone cancer, was given a service dog by the service group Canine Companions for Independence 14 weeks ago. The disabled army veteran, who discovered in 2009 that he had bone cancer in a non-combat related injury, decided to go to a Houston-area Starbucks, since he was in town to meet with Canine Companions for Independence, and was nearly denied entry because of his service dog.
Baer had travelled to San Antonio to share his story about working with Canine Companions for Independence when he decided during his trip to stop into a Houston area Starbucks. The organization had given him his service dog, Verbena – nicknamed Beanz – and during the trip, he entered into a Houston-area Starbucks with the service dog. A Starbucks employee approached the army vet and told him he would not be able to have the golden retriever in the coffeehouse with him. Baer says he was shaking as a result of the confrontation, even though he took time to explain exactly what the dog did for him.
Baer notes that the Starbucks employee was very reluctant to believe that the dog was a service dog, given Baer was clearly not blind. He says even though he explained exactly what Verbena did for him, the employee was very reticent. It wasn’t until he was able to speak with another employee and explain the reasons why he had a service dog that the employee allowed him to bring the dog with him.
The disabled army vet who was harassed by a Starbucks employee and nearly denied entry into the popular coffee chain because of his service dog says he was incredibly embarrassed and humiliated as a result of the incident, largely because the employee would not let up about his apparent lack of necessity for a service dog.
The employee who initially encountered Baer apologized for the incident, and Baer says he harbors no ill feelings towards Starbucks. Starbucks says the incident is being used as a coaching tool for employees and issued an apology on behalf of the corporation.
Baer cautions people against making assumptions based on initial appearance, as no one can clearly see what is going on underneath the clothes. He had been wearing pants at the time of the incident, and so, it was not immediately clear that Baer was an amputee. Although this disabled army vet was nearly denied Starbucks because he had a service dog, the corporation says that they would like the opportunity to serve Baer again to make up for the situation. Starbucks is a company that prides itself on its friendly approach, and so, Starbucks commented that the experience Baer had was not reflective of that of most of the customers. In addition, Starbucks noted in a statement that the service Baer received was not reflective of the standard Starbucks experience.
By Christina St-Jean