Woman felt humiliated by Walmart employee because of emotional support dog
Published Sunday, July 22, 2018 4:35PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 23, 2018 5:02PM EDT
A woman in Chateauguay claims that an employee at the town’s Walmart humiliated her when they asked about her emotional support dog.
Louise Fournier has post-traumatic stress disorder.
She uses her chihuahua, Bizou, to help her cope.
“She's my companion, I take her everywhere,” she said. “Movies, church, doctor's office.”
On July 8, Fournier was shopping at Walmart when she was confronted by an employee asking for proof that Bizou was more than just a pet.
She felt humiliated by the encounter.
“It was degrading,” Fournier said. “She embarrassed me in front of everyone. It was not handled professionally.”
The Quebec Human Rights Commission states that a service dog should have a collar or harness from a foundation like Mira.
Bizou doesn’t have a collar, nor does she have any specialized training.
Fournier did, however, have a doctor’s note explaining Bizou’s role.
Walmart’s policy allows for its employees to ask for documentation.
The situation highlights Canada’s lack of national standards for service and emotional support animal training.
It also shows the difference between the two types of animals, which extends to whether they are accepted into businesses.
“An emotional support dog is usually just that, for emotional support, to comfort the person in a very anxious situation, so we're talking about large crowds, the airplane,” said John Agionicolaitis, a service dog trainer. “Otherwise a service dog is really trained to perform specific tasks for the person.”
Walmart did not respond to an interview request.
Fournier just wants this type of situation to be avoided in the future, and has even thought of organizing a petition for legislation on the issue.
“I know I’m not the only one,” she said.