Ashley Fitzpatrick says she was shopping with her service dog Kona at a Utah Walmart on Monday night when an employee stopped her, KUTV reported.
The worker reportedly told Fitzpatrick that Kona needed to be on a leash, KUTV said. The employee then went a step further, telling Fitzpatrick that she was faking her disability and didn’t need the service dog, according to the news station.
While she’s apparently not physically disabled, Fitzpatrick says she suffers from anxiety, depression and panic attacks, KUTV reported.
“Even though it’s a mental disability, it’s just as debilitating,” Fitzpatrick said.
Now, Walmart is apologizing for the incident, according to Fox News.
“We’re committed to providing a safe shopping experience for those shoppers and associates relying on assistance from service animals,” the company said in statement, according to Fox News. “We appreciate our customer bringing this to our attention and have apologized to the customer.”
The manager of the Spanish Fork Walmart met with Fitzpatrick and Kona on Wednesday afternoon, according to the store’s Facebook page. The post says they were “able to come to a resolution to turn this into a positive experience.”
Businesses, local and state governments, and nonprofit organizations are required to allow service animals in areas where people are usually allowed to be, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The federal law defines a service animal as dogs that are trained to perform tasks, such as calming someone down during an anxiety attack, for people with disabilities.
Fitzpatrick told KUTV that employers need to improve their service dog training.
It’s unclear if the employee was disciplined.