TARGET 8: Man Files Complaint Against Menards Over Service Dog

3 years 8 months 3 days ago November 19, 2012 Nov 19, 2012 Monday, November 19 2012 Monday, November 19, 2012 3:29:00 PM CST in News
By: Stacey Welsh

JEFFERSON CITY - Patrick Wissinger said his service dog, Kurban, was wearing a red and black tag on his leash with the words "service dog" prominently displayed when the two walked into Menards in Jefferson City on August 7. Wissinger said he felt humiliated when a store manager asked him to leave with the dog. "He kept making a stink about it. He stalked us around the store, which just had me on edge the whole time," Wissinger said. He also said the manager's actions distracted Kurban. "He was too busy keeping an eye out," Wissinger said.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees are only allowed to ask the following two questions when a guest brings a dog into the store:

1) Is the dog a service dog required because of a disability?

2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

The act states store employees cannot ask about a person's disability or require medical documentation for the guest. The ADA also states those employees cannot ask for an identification card for the dog or ask that a dog demonstrate its service abilities.

The store called the Jefferson City Police Department after asking Wissinger to leave. Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker confirmed officers responded to the store when employees questioned whether Kurban was a service dog.The ADA states a person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless:

1) The dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it

2) The dog is not housebroken

No accounts from the police department, Menards or Wissinger name Kurban's behavior as a factor in the incident. Wissinger says he has a disability that is not visually obvious. He says he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intermittent vertigo after serving as a U.S. Army staff sergeant in Iraq from about 2004 to 2005. He said he sustained inner ear damage that led to vertigo from repeated blasts, exposures and gun shots. Wissinger said Kurban can sense when vertigo hits and braces against him. Wissinger also said Kurban calms him during anxiety attacks.

"He needs his service dog to function individually without me necessarily being there," fiance Aleks Wissinger said. She was with them the day of the incident. "Approaching anyone with a disability the way Patrick was approached is going to cause high anxiety, and it is very embarrassing."

Chuck Graham is an ADA policy analyst with the Great Plains ADA Center in Columbia. "If a person with a disability feels they were discriminated against, they can call and ask us for information." Graham also said the use of service dogs for people with "hidden" disabilities is becoming more widespread. "I think a lot of people understand ramps and grab rails and wheelchairs and parking spots, but a lot of times they don't understand... mental disabilities or something not quite as obvious," Graham said.

According to the 2010 ADA Revised Requirements, the disabilities Wissinger claims are recognized by the federal government. The requirements cite "calming a person with... PTSD during an anxiety attack" as an example of a task a service dog could be trained to perform. "If they did go beyond the scope of asking was this just a service animal and what tasks is he trained to do... then yes, they did violate the ADA," MU School of Law Associate Professor Brad Desnoyer said. Desnoyer teaches legal research and writing.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Menards for a response to the incident, and spokesman Jeff Abbott replied by e-mail: "Menards complies with State and Federal Law as it relates to providing reasonable accommodations to our guests and team members. When Mr. Wissinger entered the Jefferson City Menards store with his animal, he was simply asked whether or not his dog was a service animal. Upon being told that the dog was a service animal, Menards allowed Mr. Wissinger to complete his shopping."

Because the above statement does not address the police involvement or Wissinger's claims of embarrassment, KOMU 8 News asked for specific responses to those concerns. In response, a second e-mail stated, "It is unfortunate that the Guest felt humiliated as that certainly was not our intent. As previously mentioned, Menards complies with State and Federal law as it relates to providing reasonable accommodations to our guests and team members. The Jefferson City Police Department was called, but only to confirm that the Jefferson City Menards was complying with all laws and regulations related to service animals."

Wissinger has since filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against Menards and specifically T.J. Peterson, the assistant general manager Wissinger claims followed him around the store. Peterson refused to comment on the incident, saying Menards corporate issued KOMU 8 News the statements.

The DOJ could file suit against Menards if it found an ADA violation, but Patrick and Aleks Wissinger said a payout is not their goal. "We want to educate the businesses," Aleks Wissinger said. "The best thing that could come from this case, more than monetary damages, is just an awareness of what it is to have a disability... and how we can have these service animals, how they can benefit individuals," Desnoyer said.

The two also said they want an apology from Peterson and Menards, but it has not come.

More News

Grid
List
WILDWOOD (AP) — Two people were killed in a two-vehicle collision in eastern Missouri. St. Louis County police say... More >>
1 hour ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 3:52:10 PM CDT in News
DIAMOND (AP) — Southwest Missouri has a newly dedicated prairie. The 163-acre George Washington Carver Prairie was dedicated Saturday.... More >>
2 hours ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 3:01:01 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Tim Kaine has always been a leader. While as a student at the University of Missouri, he... More >>
3 hours ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 1:37:00 PM CDT in News
HARRISONVILLE (AP) — A western Missouri man has been found not guilty in a 2014 fatal shooting at a Cass... More >>
3 hours ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 1:25:37 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A member of the Clay family has represented St. Louis and northern suburbs in Congress for... More >>
6 hours ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 10:38:26 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Republican candidates in Missouri's gubernatorial primary are pledging an aggressive law-and-order approach, two years after the... More >>
7 hours ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 10:03:16 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Road closings this summer in downtown Columbia could make it harder to enjoy local shops and restaurants in... More >>
13 hours ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 3:43:00 AM CDT in News
LAKE OF THE OZARKS — One person was injured after a boat caught on fire at the 38-mile marker by... More >>
19 hours ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 10:10:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has received a $1 million gift, the largest in its... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 5:07:03 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A 51-year-old man is accused of pulling over a vehicle and acting as if he were... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 4:46:46 PM CDT in News
COOPER COUNTY — A man has been charged in relation to a hostage standoff east of Boonville Friday morning. ... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 4:15:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley announced the members of the Advisory Committee for the Director of Athletics search... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 4:01:00 PM CDT in Sports
COLUMBIA — With the extreme heat this weekend, local medical experts told people to be aware of the signs of... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 3:53:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Out-of-towners from across the state are boosting sales for local businesses and restaurants downtown this weekend. The... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 3:13:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY — The Jefferson City Knights of Columbus hosted a barbecue fundraiser for the country's first Special Olympics training... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 1:54:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Athletes, parents, and officials across Columbia tried to beat the heat while participating in the Show Me State... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 1:21:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral for a Kansas City, Kansas, police captain shot... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 12:10:16 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A federal judge has tossed out a woman's lawsuit against Home Depot over the deaths of... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 11:38:15 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 95°
6pm 94°
7pm 92°
8pm 89°
9pm 87°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

5:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 5
5:30p
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt
6:00p
Dateline NBC
4:30p
Jennifer 8
7:00p
Bulletproof Heart
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Hollywood Game Night
8:00p
American Ninja Warrior
7:00p
Bulletproof Heart
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Cougar Town