“It has always been a dream of mine to own a small, neighborhood bakery that people find welcoming. I failed to behave that way”

Mark Furstenberg, middle

The following apology was posted to numerous neighborhood listservs yesterday:

“I write to apologize to Ms. Rubin for telling her to leave my bakery, Bread Furst, because she had a dog. Although Ms. Rubin explained to me that her dog, who was small and well behaved, was a service dog, and she pointed out that her dog was wearing a service vest as well as service dog photo ID, I asked her to leave. I had a previous bad experience with a dog who was very disruptive to my customers, and I was reacting to that. It has always been a dream of mine to own a small, neighborhood bakery that people find welcoming. I failed to behave that way when Ms. Rubin and her service dog came to the bakery, so I apologize. At the bakery, we have placed signs on our door to make our policy clear that service dogs are welcome. I hope that Ms. Rubin will return.

Mark Furstenberg”

137 Comment

  • He probably realized that he could catch an ADA violation. Still, he sounds sincere.

    • Depends. I strongly suspect this is a “therapy dog” which is not covered under APA, just under the “rich people whining” act.

      • I don’t know that those dogs are allowed to wear the service vest though…? At least I haven’t seen one that has been.

        • You buy vests online with no documentation. People do so to avoid scrutiny.
          If the dog was asked to leave for bad behavior, then it’s a therapy dog. I’ve never seen an ill tempered service dog.

          • “You buy vests online with no documentation.” Yep — hence the skepticism.
            Too bad there isn’t some kind of official body (?) for certifying genuine service dogs.

          • Yeah, these “service dogs” whose owners march them around town wearing the ADA equivalent of an internet ordination are just perhaps the most obnoxiously irritating people I’ve encountered as of late.
            If you need to be within 3 feet of your pet at all times, please just stay home (with the exception of legitimately disabled people who need service animals to go about their daily life, of course).

      • Am i the only one who read “dog was wearing a service vest AS WELL AS service dog photo ID”???? sheesh

        • See above. People can get vests and IDs online without having to prove the actual service-ness of the dog.

          • I was reading the reviews for Blithe’s Amazon link and was surprised, because it sounded like almost all of the reviewers had genuine service dogs.
            Then I got to this review: “Very professionally done and helpful for my Service Dog who assists me due to my emotional disabilities. This ID also gives me the confidence to get out more, knowing I can take my Service Dog and not be mistreated or misunderstood!”
            The dog may be an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), but ESAs are not considered service animals under the ADA. Now I wonder how many of the positive reviews are from people who erroneously — but in good faith — believe that their therapy animal or emotional support animal qualifies as a service animal.

          • Ugh. This reviewer isn’t even operating in good faith: “I love my dog her name is Roada Roo Rixleben. Now she is certified!!!!!! And I can take her anywhere . I work with a bunch of wanna-be COPS and straight haters that can’t stand it when they see somebody else happy . Oh well Roada Roo and I will be dining at the finest restaurants and frequenting the most crowded of public places.”

        • Blithe

          No. But service vests and photo ids can be easily purchased from ebay and amazon, among other resources. Once again, I agree with textdoc – It’s “too bad that there isn’t some kind of official body for certifying genuine service dogs” that can be widely recognized — particularly for businesses that ordinarily would ban pets, but would be welcome service animals.

      • Why do you strongly suspect that? Seems you have an axe to grind for some reason.

  • Dog people are turning into real bullies in this city. If this was a seeing eye dog or an actual trained, working dog, i could see her point. But if it’s an untrained “emotional support” animal, then I feel bad this business owner has been badgered to the point of issuing a public apology. That’s insane. You don’t need your dog to help you purchase a baguette.

    • The best baguettes in the city, too.

    • Of course no one needs a dog to help with a purchase, but what does someone do when they want to run in for something quick and can’t leave the dog in the car? Before you say, “Tie it up outside,” think about how people are crucified for leaving dogs tied up outside stores. Remember Molly.

      • “what does someone do when they want to run in for something quick and can’t leave the dog in the car?” — Easy solution. If it’s not a service dog, leave the dog at home.

      • Not bring the f-ing dog with them in the first place, like a normal person.

      • Not bring the dog out without a companion to watch it.

        I’ve had my dog for 11 years. I’ve stopped a handful of times during cool months and left him in the car for 5 mins or less; never in the summer, never tied up outside, and never trying to sneak him into a store under the guise of “therapy dog”. Dog ownership is not as difficult as people make it out to be.

      • So…don’t run in for something quick?

        Honestly, the entitlement of dog walkers who tie up their pets outside of businesses is staggering. You’re responsible for that dog! That dog could be dehydrated. That dog could be dognapped. That dog could run away.

        If YOU are taking on the responsibility of owning and walking a dog, THAT is your priority. Not a baguette, not a cup of coffee, not your prescription refill. You need those things, you bring your dog home first. Full Stop.

        • What about my kid? Should I leave my kid at home, or tie him up outside?

          • Why is this the next step every time someone suggests being a responsible dog owner or watcher? Dogs are not children; you are not entitled to have them accompany you everywhere you go.

          • A kid can sit down and enjoy a baguette with you and even clean up after themselves

          • A dog is not a child. You can love your dog as much as a child, you can think of your dog as much as you would a child, but they will never be a human being.

          • The thing is, a lot of pet owners believe their pets are human.

          • Are you actually equating walking a pet with caring for an infant?

    • pcat

      I agree absolutely. I am afraid of dogs and would prefer they remain someplace that I am not. I wonder what sort of “therapy” this dog provides. I’d get a therapy vest for my cat if I could get her to wear it.

    • I take my dog on walks when I run quick errands – but only if I know I can tie her up outside or if I’ve previously asked the store if she is allowed inside (such as my local liquor store). My corner market who I’m crazy friendly with said no, so I respect that and tie her up outside. If I have to run to Target or Giant or something like that, then I leave her home. This is all common sense people.

      • “I take my dog on walks when I run quick errands – but only if I know I can tie her up outside…”
        Oof. Someone didn’t read the 180+ response post about this the other day….

  • People make mistakes, if they own up to it and try to make amends, we can’t ask for more.

  • I agree with Mark’s first reaction here. I don’t want people’s animals where I’m eating food. I’m betting there’s about a 99% chance this is a “therapy dog” which is a bullsh!t idea and not recognized under the ADA. Rich people use it to take their pets places they are otherwise banned. Screw Ms. Rubin and people like her who think the rules don’t apply if you have money.

    • Simmer down neighbor. You don’t know what happened, or why Ms. Rubin may have needed the dog. It’s ridiculous to say “screw Ms. Rubin” for thinking the rules don’t apply to her when you don’t even know what happened. Why jump to conclusions and judge people without knowing any facts?

      • I agree. There are service dogs with proper identification (as the owner said Ms. Rubin showed) for plenty of reasons including (but not limited to) blindness, diabetes, seizures, etc. I’m not sure why you think there is a high chance this was a therapy dog? There doesn’t seem to be any basis for that from the few facts we know.

        • ” I’m not sure why you think there is a high chance this was a therapy dog?”
          I have a pretty strong prior since about 99% of the so-called “service dogs” in Cleveland Park are just entitled rich people’s pets. Not only are they annoying everyone else, but they are doing a disservice to those who have actual service dogs.

          • Even if that is true, and even if this person’s dog was a fake, I worry this attitude will begin to cause difficulties for people with actual real service dogs and real disabilities. Is it worth possibly discriminating against them for a few bad apples (when the dog is not obviously misbehaving)?

          • you are miserable, neighbor. or just playing the roll of troll. you have no idea who ms. Rubin is or about her need for a service dog. you have no reason to doubt the fact that this was an actual service dog after the owner acknowledged the vest and ID. The owner apologized.

          • FG & anon. Maybe you don’t understand “prior”. Literally 99% of people with “service dogs” are fakers. That’s the whole point is that those people are screwing over the blind and the epileptic who need their dogs. Based on the statistics I strongly suspect if Ms. Rubin is one of the fakers. She also probably would have noted if she had a disability that required a dog beyond affluenza.

          • Can you cite your statistics, please, neighbor? I’d REALLY like to see a legitimate source that says 99% of service dogs are fake….

    • Linc Park SE

      I worked at Vida with a guy who bought one of those fake service vests for his dog explicitly so he could get away with taking it wherever he wanted. The website is amazing in it’s array of items you can buy to illegitimately make your pet a “service” animal.

      Yes – an actual certified authentic licensing body would be nice.

      Oh yeah – and once on a flight from HNL to LAX I sat behind a lady with a service parakeet on a string wearing a diapery harness. Despite the diaper, it shat all over her shoulder. It was gross and I still think a scam.

      • “a service parakeet on a string wearing a diapery harness” – THIS IS AMAZING! I need to meet this person and her service parakeet!

  • Agree that he sounds sincere and I appreciate that he came forward to acknowledge his mistake.

    • It’s fascinating how so many people on this thread are jumping to conclusions about Ms. Rubin or service dogs in general. Dog owners are now “real bullies in this city,” and “therapy dogs are bullsh!t” and “not service animals,” and too many people “abuse” the use of service dogs.

      Why all the hate? Is it because you think people don’t follow the rules? Is there really such a huge problem of people in this city falsely claiming they need a service dog?

      These are serious questions, and I’m not trying to start an argument. Just wondering why people are so quick to condemn service dog owners (and the use of service dogs).

      • I agree. Yes, all the comments about therapy dogs could be correct. But then again, we could find out later that the dog was a legit service dog because of a disability — and then I sincerely hope that everyone jumping to conclusions apologizes for jumping to conclusions -_-

      • When we say abuse, we mean people without a need for a service dog buys a vest and slaps it on fluffy. No one here has a problem with service animals who are needed and trained as such. People absolutely are abusing this classification, therapy dog, to bring ill tempered dogs into public spaces which brings up obvious issues.

        • I’m sure that’s true Anon Spock, because some people will try to exploit any situation to their advantage. But is it really a huge problem? If so, maybe it’s just a problem that I never see or have totally missed. Overall, I just fail to see how this is such a big deal that people need to question the legitimacy of another person’s service dog.

          • I get the impression that it’s a growing problem — not necessarily a huge one.

          • Are counterfeit “service dogs” a huge problem? Probably not. However, it’s annoying as hell when an entitled person parades their four-legged shit factory with no particular justification when there are others HUMANS who might (a) be allergic, (b) have a dog phobia, (c) not like dogs, (d) be in a bad mood and want to be left alone, (e) prefer to have dog germs kept away from their food, or (f) name any million other reasons why dogs aren’t allowed. Except for some very specific disability services, social norms for pets means that fluffy does not have the rights of people. You shouldn’t be so shocked that normal people react strongly to misfits scamming their way around the social contract.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I have no reason to believe that the problem is huge in terms of prevalence, but some people find it to be a huge problem in the sense of moral reprehensibility. I would think the people most aggrieved by this problem would be those who have emotional support animals that they are unwilling to try to pass off as the same thing as a service animal because they aren’t into lying and cheating and all that, sort of like on the thread about MD kids fraudulently enrolled in DCPS schools – it doesn’t really affect me, but I totally get why a DC parent whose kid is on the *waiting list* for the same school would be enraged.

          • I agree with the moral reprehensibility side of this – as in it’s completely and absolutely morally reprehensible for people with dogs to pass them off as legitimate service animals simply to lessen the inconvenience of having a pet. It’s a lying, scammy, entitled thing to do, amplified by the fact that most people in the world make reasonable distinctions between animals and humans.

          • It’s certainly bad enough that I’ve had 4 different airline agents give me flack when flying with my dog in the last ~18 months (2 round trips, both short flights). He’s not a service dog but small enough to fly in-cabin. I add him to my reservation 5 minutes after making it if I’m taking him, but the airline with the best service to my destination doesn’t accept pre-payments for the pet fee, so I have to pay at the check in counter. All 4 times, something along the lines of “and I suppose it’s an therapy dog, huh?” I’ve also noticed a marked increase in the number of dogs in the security lines, particularly those without carriers (non-service animals have to be in carriers, and I know some people wait to put their dogs in until after clearing security (actually perfectly legal at my destination airport), but those I’m speaking of weren’t *carrying* a carrier, even).
            There are also a lot of sites out there that will “certify” your dog as a therapy animal/emotional support animal for nothing but a fee. No training, no diagnosis, nothing…they just give you some paperwork and say “you’re legal now.” Here’s a great example of a site that boasts in the first paragraph about taking your dog everywhere for no fees and qualifying for no pets housing, and buries in the fine print that you need a prescription for a service animal (though they don’t require it to register your pet): https://www.nsarco.com/

          • And to be perfectly clear, my issues with the fakers are 1. (most importantly) that they make it difficult on those with legitimate service animals, as may have been the case here; 2. their dogs are sometimes (bordering on often) barely trained at all, and sometimes poorly socialized; and 3. they make it hard on those of us legally handling our pets. For one of those flights, someone’s “emotional support animal” (vest and no carrier) growled at me/my dog when I was trying to put him back in his carrier after security, about 5′ away from him. Owner freely admits “he doesn’t really like other dogs.” ORLY? Not a service dog, then. What would she do if seated next to someone with a seeing-eye dog? (my guess is ask for the OTHER person to be re-seated) I obviously love dogs, and wish that some rules were a little less strict (I don’t see that Boston has a problem with leashed-but-not-crated dogs on the T outside of rush hour, for example), but people who bend or break the rules to haul Fido everywhere they go without exception and without doing the hard work to make sure their dog can even handle it make it hard on those of us who are trying to do it right, in many ways (again, I follow all rules for PETS, but do occasionally fly with or take my dog on Metro).
            While I don’t crate my dog on the public side of security at my usual destination airport because it’s not required (and easier on my shoulder…14 pounds is heavier than you think!), and he’s not trained to the level of a service dog, I’m comfortable doing that because he LOVES humans (even kids) and other dogs, walks nicely on the leash, does fine in crowded environments (including listening to important commands like sit, heel, and leave it), and is smart enough to figure out even challenging obstacles (it took him about 3 seconds to figure out the escalator and automatic doors the first time…though the automatic door was funny because that night he kept walking up to my family’s sliding glass door, pacing in front of it, poking it, and looking at it like “why isn’t it opening?”). If your dog displays aggression towards ANYTHING, they’re not an appropriate dog to bring into situations like that without being in a carrier, and CERTAINLY not an appropriate “service” dog.

      • Blithe

        One reason is that there are genuine reasons for not wanting dogs or other animals in places like food establishments — both for health reasons and for safety reasons. These rules and reasons get waived– for good reason — for people with disabilities and extremely well-trained service animals. One thing to think about, if a customer is injured by an untrained “service” animal that the owner allowed into an establishment that would not otherwise usually or even legally permit animals, who would be considered responsible?

  • Maybe I woke up on the cynical side of the bed this morning, but I wonder if the “small and well behaved” dog was in fact a service animal.
    A few weeks ago, I was getting on the bus with a youngish couple who had a dog wearing a vest that said “Service Dog.” The vest also had a laminated window or something with a photo ID.
    I was a little suspicious that this dog was in fact a service dog — at one point he was doing the jumping/putting-paws-on-human-legs thing that I associate with not particularly well-trained dogs.
    It occurred to me that this dog was perhaps in training, especially given that neither human appeared to have a disability… but he/she was a mutt, not one of the breeds I usually see acting as service dogs (at least for the blind), i.e., German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois or Labrador retriever.

    • In case anyone missed it last time I posted it (in a subthread about legitimate service animals vs. questionable ones — http://www.popville.com/2016/07/random-reader-rant-andor-revel-1604/#comment-1147106 ), this is an informative (and entertaining) New Yorker article on the “emotional support animal” phenomenon:

      • HaileUnlikely

        The story of the emotional support pig oinking and grunting on the airplane was pretty great.

      • This article was hilariously upsetting. Emotional support animals are, sorry, bullsh*t, and that whole burgeoning industry needs to be shut down asap.

        • “emotional support animals are bullshit” – Do you have any data to support this statement? Because I have a strong suspicion that you don’t have any clue what you’re talking about. There’s ample published research that shows that domesticated animals can have great positive effect on a person’s psychological well-being.

          • I think what LBP meant was that “emotional support animals” do not and should not equal “service animals.”

          • No one is disputing that, I don’t think. But as a poster below said, all dogs make their owners feel good. That’s why people have dogs. Where does society draw the line? If everyone did everything that made them feel good, or lessened their anxiety, or whatever… chaos.
            Service dogs are highly trained to deal with a myriad of situations. Random dogs wearing vests aren’t trained to keep their cool when a server drops a tray, they aren’t trained to refuse food while working, etc etc. I think maybe YOU don’t know what goes into making a service dog acceptable in all environments.

          • Heh, that’s a cute baseless assumption, wdc. Growing up, one of our dogs was a trained/sanctioned “therapy dog” that people here seem so quick to dismiss. Does NIH pass the smell test for you? Because that’s where she “worked”, treating a wide variety of patients with purportedly great success. So yea, I’d say I have some knowledge what constitutes a trained “therapy” animal.
            As far as “nobody disputed that” – please re-read LBP’s comment. How is that not literally disputing the notion that “emotional support animals” don’t provide measurable therapeutic help?

          • Anon — you’re missing the point. Therapy animals provide therapy. They are not necessary for someone to function, aka service dogs — they are not seeing eye dogs, they can’t smell when someone is going to go into shock from low blood sugar or similar life-or-death situations when out in public. Thus, therapy dogs are NOT service dogs, and not covered by ADA. My understanding of LBP’s comment was that emotional support animals passing for SERVICE dogs is bs. Not the existence of actual therapy dogs as a whole…. (but LBP, correct me if I’m wrong)

          • The point isn’t whether or not dogs make people happy. The point is whether or not the fact that your dog makes you happy then entitles you to bring it anywhere at any time, regardless of whether your dog makes everyone else unhappy or uncomfortable.

          • I wasn’t commenting on sanctioned service dogs, but rather on LDP’s baseless notion that “emotional support animals are bullshit”.
            But to your point – if someone’s psychological condition is serious-enough to the point that it prevents them from functioning on their own, I see absolutely no issue with allowing them special privileges to bring their vetted “therapy dog”/”service animal”/”Dr. Dog” (call it what you want) to the store. As someone else mentioned below – you’d be extremely myopic to judge the extent of someone’s disability by simply looking at them. I’m willing to give Ms. Rubin the benefit of doubt that she legitimately needs her pooch as a “service animal” – whatever that reason may be.

          • My understanding was that therapy dogs and emotional support animals — helpful as they may be in their respective capacities — are not considered “service animals” under the ADA.

          • James, so, as a medically trained psychiatrist, you’re able to accurately and reliably diagnose the gravity of one’s psychological condition by merely seeing them in passing?

          • I don’t think James is talking about assessing whether someone’s emotional support animal is legitimately an emotional support animal. There are a few issues here:
            1) Service animals are allowed everywhere, whereas emotional support animals are not.
            2) However, ESA status _does_ accord an animal certain perks it wouldn’t have otherwise. Namely, ESAs can live in no-pets housing and can fly in-cabin on airplanes.
            3) Because of issue #1, some people with ESAs — real or fake — are trying to take them to places where only service animals are allowed. Some may mistakenly believe that an ESA counts as a service animal; others may be acting in bad faith.
            4) Because of issue #2, some people with ordinary pets are getting them “certified” as ESAs so that they can take them on planes, etc.
            No matter how legitimate its emotional-support function may be, an ESA is not a service animal and is thus not allowed in places that forbid animals other than service animals.

        • Actually, therapy dogs are often used to help veterans with PTSD or dealing with life-changing injuries, and one of the reasons they are often allowed more access than other dogs on public transportation is because most of their owners do the work for FREE so society gives them the ability to do so without it costing them a fortune to transport.

          There will always be asshats who break the rules, but not all therapy dogs are BS. Plenty of folks who’ve been helped by therapy dogs at Walter Reed / Naval Hospital, etc. can attest to that.

          • I feel as if there’s some deliberate missing-of-the-point. PTSD dogs ARE service dogs. They are extensively trained to deal with being in public. They are trained to look around corners and give an all-clear signal to their human. They are trained to take in the world above their heads, and look out for things like low-hanging branches or falling items, which is not an easy thing to teach a dog to do. They are trained to remain calm and to physically stick to their owners when, say, a firetruck goes past.
            Mister Shivers the emotional support chihuahua has NONE of this, and should therefore NOT be welcome in indoor public spaces. Why do people keep equating service dogs with emotional support animals?? The difference is in the training.

          • Agreed, wdc, I was just noting that not all dogs trained as therapy or emotional support dogs are BS, as was asserted above. Many of them provide an invaluable service to veterans, and again, those situations are not easily identified by sight. Of course there are abuses, but dismissing any “therapy dog” as a fake is not correct.

    • Not trying to pick a fight, textdoc, but I happen to know someone who has a service dog that is a mutt. I also don’t think it’s our place to question whether people with service dogs actually have a valid reason for it. As FridayGirl mentioned, there are people who might seem perfectly able but who still need service dogs (e.g. they have seizures, etc.). I think we should just assume that if someone has a service dog they have a valid need for it, and then move on 🙂

      • I _have_ heard of service dogs who are mutts, and the seizure-related dog thing did occur to me.
        It was just that this dog seemed a little rambunctious* to be a service dog. I guess I’ll hope he/she was in training.
        * Which apparently wasn’t the case with the dog at Bread Furst, who was “well behaved.”

        • I’ve seen a few dogs in training, and they all had patches saying they were in training. They were legit soon to be seeing eye dogs working with a blind person and a sighted person. Maybe I’ve encountered them more often because I used to do metro during the day.
          No legit dog in training is going out without those patches because as you noted they’re going to be more rambunctious & they’d want to warn others in advance.

      • Given the abuse of the legitimate “service dog” classification by the selfish, entitled owners of therapy dogs, it seems entirely reasonable to question whether people with service dogs actually have a valid reason for it. Asking about the need for a poorly-behaved dog seems about as rude as bringing a dog somewhere they are otherwise not allowed to be. It is unfortunate that we can’t have nice things.

        • “it seems entirely reasonable to question whether people with service dogs actually have a valid reason for it.”
          Business owners are permitted to ask what disability the service dog is for, from my understanding. At that point, the business owner can make a determination. But it’s a question for the business owner, not the internet. And they should be aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding service animals.

          • No they cannot ask you what your disability is – absolutely not. They can ask if it’s a service animal. If you say yes, they cannot ask for further info. No one is required to reveal their medical conditions to anyone. And no, it’s not ‘entirely reasonable’ (whoever said that above). Yes, there are people out there who abuse it, but it is not worth making someone who is dealing with a disability feel awful because you decide to interrogate them. Absolutely not. This entire thread is ridiculous.

          • Apologies hackney, I mis-read and mispoke based on some googling. Your point — “they can ask if it’s a service animal for a disability” — was what I meant. (From the more-clear ADA.gov site: “If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability.”)

          • Some confusion here. Businesses can ask the following two questions, which differ slightly from what’s reported above:
            “Is it required because of a disability? What work or task has it been trained to perform?”

          • neighbor — I saw that site but it was not credible. Please look at the ADA.gov cite I sourced below.

        • +1
          I was recently at the Columbia Heights Giant and noticed a pitbull without any service identification laying on the floor by the salad bar. The owners looked to be in their 20s and their behavior suggested they were on something. I notified a Giant employee about the dog, and watched the owners tell him that the dog was a service animal. I’m willing to bet it was total BS. This store is already gross enough without unsanctioned pets wandering about.

    • The breed isn’t always important for service dogs. Labs and German Shepherds are helpful as seeing eye dogs because their size places them at a height to assist their owners navigate the world. Obviously a chihuahua couldn’t do the same. However, some trained service dogs are for diabetics and people with seizure disorders that can smell a chemical change in their handlers before a precipitous drop in blood sugar or a seizure. For these dogs, small size is no barrier to being able to alert their handlers. Their only requirement is a good nose and accurate response rates. Beagles do well in this function, but any dog with the right nose for it could do it.
      Absent any facts to the contrary, I choose to believe that all parties involved are sincere, both in the need for the dog and in the apology.

      • Good analysis and helpful information, Caroline, thanks. I never really thought about labs and shepherds being the right height! I too, will hope that all parties involved are sincere – I do understand textdoc’s skepticism, having come into contact with “therapy dogs’ essentially posing as actual service dogs.

      • Agree, without facts it’s premature to jump to any conclusions.

      • Another reason that service dogs are unlikely to be mutts is the source. Legit service dogs are usually donated by reputable breeders. It’s common for breeders of retrievers and GSDs to tithe one puppy from each litter, usually one that is somehow unsuitable as a show dog. I’ve fostered guide dog puppies, and there was simply no way for a random dog to enter the program. They came from known sources, known for intelligence. You’re not going to pour that level of resources into a mutt who may or may not turn out to have the necessary smarts and size and temperament.

    • Please don’t make assumptions based on people’s appearance on whether they’re disabled or not. Disabled can take many forms, much of them not visible to others. I have a disability, and appear a healthy young woman but often need to sit on trains/buses. You wouldn’t believe the dirty looks I get from people expecting me to stand when the bus is crowded because I don’t look sick. Please don’t encourage that thinking where people believe they can ascertain whether someone is sick or not based on appearance.

      • It wasn’t the humans’ appearance that made me wonder whether they had a disability; it was primarily the fact that they had a rather rambunctious-seeming “service” dog.
        Had the dog been well-behaved, I would’ve assumed that either one of them had a non-visible disability or that they were training the dog.
        Thank you for the reminder about non-visible disabilities, though. I’m sorry that people are giving you dirty looks — I guess they’ve become so accustomed to seeing non-disabled folks sitting in priority-disabled seats (and not yielding them) that they assume the worst. 🙁

        • But that’s again making an assumption of what is and what is not disabled (people too often seeing people who are non-disabled, as if it can be determined by appearance alone). I’ve had this condition since I was in middle school and can imagine people assuming I didn’t need a seat when I looked like a teen. I know quite a few mutts trained for detecting seizures, etc, who do act like regular dogs – excited and busy-bodies when out and about but do have a job (seizure detection and emotional support (I know one who pulls dual duty and is legit) and not the plodding, business-only labs you see as seeing eye dogs. Just lots of people making assumptions around topics that lead to very hurtful things being thought of or said to others who are already dealing with managing their health.

        • I’m really confused. Can someone please tell me where the “rambunctious” thing is coming from?

        • FridayGirl, I think Hackney is referencing these remarks of mine:
          “I was a little suspicious that this dog was in fact a service dog — at one point he was doing the jumping/putting-paws-on-human-legs thing that I associate with not particularly well-trained dogs.”
          “It was just that this dog seemed a little rambunctious* to be a service dog. I guess I’ll hope he/she was in training.”

  • There are many people who abuse the ’emotional support’ dog and it’s sad because it negatively impacts the intended beneficiaries (can be life saving for people with epilepsy, narcolepsy, severe depression, etc). I know people who’ve gotten emotional support designation for one dog and then gotten additional dogs and claimed it for each like a sibling entitlement. There’s no training required for the animals and few barriers to get the necessary papers. I’m sure there are people who benefit from this but far fewer than actually use it.

  • For God’s sake, “therapy dogs” are not service animals. Dogs make dog owners feel better. My dog makes me feel great every day. But the fact that she makes me feel more comfortable and happy does not make her a service animal. And it certainly does not give me the right to demand service in a bakery or restaurant.

    Not to mention the fact that some people are legitimately afraid of dogs.

  • Mark Furstenberg is known around town as kind of a jerk in general, so while his decision to have the woman leave was fine, im sure he did not do it in any sort of subtle way.

  • How much “service” can a “small” dog provide?

    • Check out American Red Cross dogs that serve veterans. While there are those who are trained as true service dogs and are of specific breeds that have the capacity to help with physical issues, there are many therapy dogs who are smaller breeds. Also some breeds like beagles can be used for detecting epileptic seizures and such.

  • Furstenberg is an arrogant little ass. He and another well known DC Chef once came in to the restaurant my husband manages. Very demanding and pulling the old “Don’t you know who we are?” card.

  • I used to live in the neighborhood. I heard that after I moved out, a lady with one of these so-called therapy/emotional support dogs forced the apartment building management to accept her little pup. They (and everyone else) purportedly strongly suspect the dog is not a legitimate service animal, but the kind the very informative New Yorker article mentioned. Formerly, it had been a cat-only building. Would not surprise me if it was the same lady.

  • On a related note, on a flight I once had to sit near a woman who had a standard poodle with her as some kind of service animal. She had to buy the dog his own seat.

    I think this service animal thing is way out of hand.

    • Standard poodles are not unheard of as service dogs. They’re big and smart. But they aren’t as compliant as retrievers, so they’re less common.
      However, if she had to buy the dogs its own seat, I’m guessing it wasn’t a legit service dog. They usually get the bulkhead row, and sit on the floor.

      • Yes, poodles and poodle mixes (schnoodles, golden doodles, etc) are becoming more common as service dogs, although still less common that labs, German shepherds, etc.

    • Stop it. A family member of mine has a standard poodle service animal. They exist.

  • so the this appears to have happened in May? Seems like a long time for an apology unless it was spurned by lawyers. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1003582146396525&id=109108665843882

    • Yea, given that he publicly addressed her by her last name, I assumed that lawyers got involved, and that this apology may have been a part of their “settlement”.

      • +1. Good investigating.
        (This statement from the ADA website supports the idea that it was a settlement since the wording is very similar:
        “10. Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?

        A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.”)

  • Ally

    I have a lot of respect for people who are gracious and apologize when they screw up. Kudos to the owner for reaching out and trying to make things right.

  • ArchbishopofHillEast

    The fake therapy dog is, in my mind, akin to parking in a handicap spot because you are a selfish a**hat. Something that we all must consider though is the increased use of service dogs to aid individuals suffering from PTSD and Autism. These dogs are specially trained to interrupt dangerous repetitive behaviors; act to calm their companion; and, in the case of autistic children, even retrieve them if they engage in impulsive running. These are disorders that do not have a physically obvious component, so even if you are highly suspicious it is easier to just ignore the dog and go about your day.

  • I am a disability studies scholar who writes about this topic and am appalled by these comments. As with this poster, false accusations of fraud are far more common that fraud itself. Yet most nondisabled people complain about fraud and care nothing about the disabled people who are constantly accosted, accused of fraud, and denied their rights. Think about this before you write nasty things about those terrible disabled people who try to scam the system. Think about whether you would rather err on the side of a disabled person getting their rights or being denied their rights. In other words, think about this from a disabled perspective.

    • Thank you, Jeff! (Though, I wouldn’t be all too surprised at all the myopic posturing on here.)

    • I agree with you completely.

    • So, Jeff, in your mind the best protection of hard-won disabled rights is to extend those same rights to anybody who wants to scam an “emotional support animal” privilege when none exists? Seems like legitimately disabled individuals with properly trained service animals would want to stop others from scamming the system, lest they have to put up with more and more skepticism of their needs.

      • Ugh. #missingthepoint

        • Thank you Jeff and FridayGirl for being sane voices on this thread. This has been such a major eyeroll and a reminder that disability rights and education around them have a long way to go.

    • And, oh, what do you think of the penultimate paragraph of this story – http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/20/pets-allowed
      ““Are you going to ruin it for all of us?” one of my dog-fancying friends asked, when I told her that I was writing this article. I was surprised to learn how many of my acquaintances were the owners of so-called emotional-support animals. They defend the practice by saying that they don’t want to leave their pets home alone, or they don’t want to have to hire dog-walkers, or they don’t want their pets to have to ride in a plane’s cargo hold, or that Europeans gladly accept dogs everywhere. They have tricks to throw skeptics off guard. “People can’t ask about my disability,” one friend told me. “But if I feel that I’m in a situation where I might have a struggle being let in somewhere with my dog, then I come up with a disorder that sounds like a nightmare. I like to be creative. I’ll say I lack a crucial neurotransmitter that prevents me from processing anxiety and that, without the dog, I’m likely to black out and urinate.”

    • There have been some nasty/negative comments, but overall I think the discussion has been reasonable. And helpful, too — Hackney reminded us that not all disabilities can be easily discerned by looking at someone.
      No one is talking about “those terrible disabled people who try to scam the system.” If someone is disabled and has a service animal, that person is by definition NOT scamming the system.
      The reason so many people are expressing skepticism is that there is a growing phenomenon of non-disabled people trying to abuse the system to be able to take their animals anywhere they wish. There’s confusion as to what constitutes a service animal. And although there are legitimate emotional support animals, there are also people gaming the system by getting their _non_-ESA animals certified as ESAs so that they can take them on planes, etc. (See JoDa’s comment above about increasing numbers of dogs flying in-cabin and thus being in the security lines at the airport.)
      The New Yorker article I referenced earlier does a good job of distinguishing between service animals and emotional support animals, and which ones are allowed where:
      “Contrary to what many business managers think, having an emotional-support card merely means that one’s pet is registered in a database of animals whose owners have paid anywhere from seventy to two hundred dollars to one of several organizations, none of which are recognized by the government. […] Even with a card, it is against the law and a violation of the city’s health code to take an animal into a restaurant. Nor does an emotional-support card entitle you to bring your pet into a hotel, store, taxi, train, or park.
      “No such restrictions apply to service dogs, which, like Secret Service agents and Betty White, are allowed to go anywhere. In contrast to an emotional-support animal (E.S.A.), a service dog is trained to perform specific tasks, such as pulling a wheelchair and responding to seizures. The I.R.S. classifies these dogs as a deductible medical expense, whereas an emotional-support animal is more like a blankie. An E.S.A. is defined by the government as an untrained companion of any species that provides solace to someone with a disability, such as anxiety or depression. The rights of anyone who has such an animal are laid out in two laws. The Fair Housing Act says that you and your E.S.A. can live in housing that prohibits pets. The Air Carrier Access Act entitles you to fly with your E.S.A. at no extra charge, although airlines typically require the animal to stay on your lap or under the seat—this rules out emotional-support rhinoceroses. Both acts stipulate that you must have a corroborating letter from a health professional.
      “Fortunately for animal-lovers who wish to abuse the law, there is a lot of confusion about just who and what is allowed where.”

      • It’s sad, because I actually know someone with a service dog for their autistic child, and that’s a perfectly good reason to have a service dog. As mentioned, the dog’s trained to help with behaviors and guide the child through stressful situations. And, yes, the dog is deductible as a medical device. Not a single problem from me with that! But it’s people like that who are hurt by those who do some online sham and then take their PET with them everywhere.
        After I made that comment, I chatted with a coworker who immediately said “oh, I know someone who did that. She went through one of the more expensive services, and they actually got a doctor to write her a prescription for the dog, after just doing an online chat. She did it because she didn’t want to pay for a sitter or pet fees when she travels, and then she apparently didn’t have to pay pet rent on her apartment, either. She actually tried to convince me to do that for my cat when I moved here so I wouldn’t have to pay to fly her or for pet rent.” If it took me exactly one conversation to find someone scamming the system and encouraging others to do the same, that’s a problem. And it’s mostly a problem for people who legitimately need service animals. I don’t want someone blind, or autistic, or with a seizure disorder, or, or, or to have to feel like they are under scrutiny because others are running a scam.
        No, you can’t tell on sight whether a person has a disability that requires a service animal, but the behavior of the animal is often a good tip-off, and there are a lot of stories here (including the one that prompted this exclusion and subsequent apology, and my own that I added after my comment about how I’ve noticed an significant increase in non-crated dogs in airports) of “service animals” who are just poorly trained pets. Here’s another: a few weeks ago on the Metro at rush hour, I felt something on my leg while waiting to board the train, looked down, and there was a small dog, front paws on my leg, sniffing me and begging for a pet. Its owner was chatting with someone else and looking the other way. I said “um, just so you know, dogs have to be in carriers on public transit here.” “IT’S MY THERAPY DOG, I DON’T HAVE TO CRATE IT!” I just sighed and rolled my eyes, but no ACTUAL service dog is just going to jump up on a random stranger (the behavior was probably driven by the fact that I have a dog and, thus, was interesting to sniff). It seemed like a sweet dog unlikely to cause problems (except to someone afraid of dogs!), but also not what the law intended.

        • Good post!!

          Yup…real service animals are not distracted from their task, supoorting and caring for the owner.

    • Thank you!

  • Hmmm, the purpose of this post was for the owner of Furst Bread to apologize for not respecting a customer. That’s professional and a sign he cares about his business and his customers. It was not meant as an attack on service dogs or even fake service dogs. Focus on the gist, people. I’ve not been to Furst Bread yet; but because of this post, I’ll make a point of going this weekend.

  • Good news for anyone popping into Hermes at City Center: you may bring your dog. Today there was Brandon, a handsome well-mannered cocker spaniel, accompanying his owners. I double checked with staff, and fully intend to bring Mildred our whippet next time.

    • Mildred must be so relieved! However would she select the appropriate Hermes (tr) choker collar from the new collection without being able to compare them in person (er, in pooch?). Truly, justice has triumphed today.

  • Mr Furstenberg, you are a true gentleman. What a lovely apology! I have not been to your bakery, but I will find it a become a customer.
    To all of the judgmental, negative know-it-alls who responded to Mr Furstenberg’s olive branch, you sound like D Trump. In the words of Sarah Silverman “. . . you’re being ridiculous.”

  • Guy is ripe for getting sued. Sounds like a diva, too. Kids are far more of a disturbance and unsanitary than a well trained service dog.

  • Dog owners need to have their dog’s under their control at all times–no tying up outside. Service dog vest and ID tag abuse is rampant!!! I agree there should be stricter methods for obtaining this garb and status.

    And no your dog does not need to go everywhere with you all the time, though in a perfect world it would. But in a perfect world parents would control their screaming banshees they call kids from running around restaurants, playing in aisles at church and/or restaurants, and standing on chairs and other seating that is meant for public use. No one wants to experience family time in your family room when out for a leisurely evening, dining, etc.

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