Being assertive has its advantages, but sometimes, it can get out of hand. Megan Stoff, a dog handler, was at the local shopping mall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her dog, Nala.
Then, a mother approached her and asked if her young child could pet Nala, who happened to be on duty at the time.
This was not the first time Megan was asked to allow someone to pet the dogs under her care, but her answer is always negative. This is because this would confuse the dogs and disrupt the learning process.
Service dogs are trained to help people with disabilities, like hearing or visual impairments, diabetes, seizures, mental illness, and mobility impairment. These dogs accompany their owners everywhere they go and help with rudimentary tasks.
They originate from Germany, where the first guide dog training schools were set to care for World War I veterans.
Nowadays, thousands of service dogs are individually trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
There are many different types of service dogs:
- Mobility Assistance Dogs, specifically balance dogs, provide their partners with balance and stability while walking. Other mobility dogs work with people that use wheelchairs.
- Medical Alert Dogs warn their person of an impending seizure, loss of consciousness, or serious blood sugar change. People with conditions like epilepsy or diabetes rely on their dogs to alert them to these episodes so they can prevent unpleasant accidents like collapsing on the ground.
- Guide Dogs are their partner’s eyes, and they assist their blind handler to navigate the world around them.
- Psychiatric Service Dogs are trained to perform specific tasks related to their human’s disability. Common uses are for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which a frightening condition that is developed after a terrifying event, including soldiers, police officers, paramedics and more. The dogs help these people by waking them from night terrors, interrupting situations that may cause a panic attack, fetching medicine and more.
Therefore, the rights of these dogs are protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and parallel state and city laws.
Under the ADA mandate, service dogs that are trained to follow a disabled person cannot be denied entrance to businesses, government facilities, establishments, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public.
Moreover, significant monetary penalties have been put in place against those who attempt to separate a service dog from their charge.
Most service dogs wear special vests to be easily identifiable, but even those without any identifying marks can still be easily noted by the way they pay close attention to their handlers. While working, these dogs must be respected and should not be petted, fed, or otherwise distracted as this could be dangerous to the people they are caring for.
Yet, some people do not understand the critical role of service dogs, like in the case of Megan. This mother walked on by and Megan thought that was the end of it, but she was wrong.
Several minutes later, she came back with her daughter dangling in her arms. Extremely agitated, she tried to argue with Megan over not allowing her daughter to pet Nala.
Megan explained that the dog was in training, but the mother argued that instead of telling her “no,” Megan should have answered in a different manner and show more empathy. She also added that Nala didn’t have a sign to let people know not to pet her.
Yet, it is evident in the video that Nala wears a vest covered with patches stating that she’s a service dog.
The woman went on so far that she even called mall security.
In a Facebook post, Megan stated she was surprised by how far this woman was prepared to go just because she was not willing to accept being told “no.”
Misplaced anger and petty vindictiveness over the refused request escalated a simple misunderstanding into a video that has quickly gone viral, and thousands of people weighed in with their own opinions on the matter.
The video has been viewed over 2 million times, with people shocked by the aggression of the entitled mother. This mom didn’t seem to understand that service dogs are there to help people with special circumstances or requirements, and shouldn’t be interfered with while working. No matter how polite a request is, in this case, no means no.
Yet, many saw the entire event from a different angle. They claim the mother wasn’t upset that she couldn’t pet the dog, but she was upset by Megan’s rudeness.
These people believed that the entire situation could have been easily resolved with a few words and an apology from both parties, and all that negativity, judgment, and hatred, could have been avoided.
What do you think?