Edmonton store bars autistic girl and service dog twice
Last July, a nine-year-old autistic girl and her service dog, Levi, were kicked out of Winners, a discount clothing store in Edmonton, Canada. All Emily Ainsworth wanted to do was go shopping, but store employees ordered her off the premise. As a mea culpa, the store sent Emily an apology card with a puppy on it and a $25 gift card. The apology, the CBC reports, was even written by Mike Faulkner, Edmonton district manager for TJX Canada, the parent company of Winners.
It read in part: “I followed up with the store and the manager involved and he was very apologetic. He certainly didn’t mean any offence at all and was upset to hear that you and your daughter were upset. My biggest concern is that your daughter doesn’t feel welcome so if you don’t mind spoiling her a bit, I’d like to give her a $25 gift card to pick something she’d like from any of our stores.”
All’s well that ends well, right? Not exactly.
When Emily tried to spend her gift card, with her mother and Levi in tow, the store told them Levi was not allowed on the premise, despite being clearly marked as a service dog. It marked the second time she was not allowed in the store with Levi.
“For us as a family to go back in and to be kicked a second time…it’s almost as though we were lured into an establishment under the guise that it was a safe place to go,” said Alison, Emily’s mom. “It’s demoralizing. It’s demeaning. Had they taken it with seriousness, then I think their staff would have become educated.”