A teacup chihuahua named Dee-O-Gee, weighing maybe seven pounds, and its assertive owner, Alex Allarie, have dragged the Ontario Human Rights Commission into a dispute over what is and isn’t a “service dog” — the kind permissible in food stores and restaurants.
It is just one of about half a dozen complaints that Allarie, 52, has made against merchants along historic Bridge Street in Carleton Place.
All but one complaint has been dropped or mediated. But not the one against The Granary Bulk and Natural Food store, a fixture on the street since 1978.
It began in early 2006.
According to Keith and his wife, Leslie, Allarie would visit the store, which has bulk items, to buy only small amounts of salt and pepper.
On at least one occasion, the dog was on a retractable leash and moving about the store, sniffing food items, the Roubles said.
Knowing Ontario’s health regulations, they told Allarie he could not bring the dog in the store. He responded by pulling out a prescription sheet that described the animal as a “service dog,” and also showed them a copy of the town bylaw that permits such animals in food establishments.
Allarie returned to the store — the animal now wearing a “service dog” cape –stepped inside and reportedly shouted: “Are you people going to serve me now?”
Leslie Rouble said she was actually frightened by his level of aggression. She quickly bagged up some salt and pepper and handed it to him, not the least bit concerned about payment.
It was then that Allarie threw some coins at her, she said. “I was terrified,” she said this week. “I couldn’t stop shaking for two hours after he left.”
The Roubles have recently sold The Granary and say the stress of the human rights complaint was one of the factors.
“I’ve got nothing to apologize for,” says Keith, also chair of the town’s business improvement association.
Allarie, meanwhile, says he’s proceeding because of the principle involved and to defend the next person with an unorthodox service animal.
“He can’t pick and choose what kind of animal qualifies to be a service animal.” (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
This reminds me of the McDonald’s case in B.C. that Ezra mentioned – you know, the one about the hand washing. Then there is the case about the medical pot smoker and the restaurant.
I’m not sure just how much longer businesses or the public will tolerate this kind of systematic abuse. But these stories are needed in order to advance the cause against such a corrupt and wicked system.
The Human Rights Commissions will be a hot topic of debate during the next provincial election and possibly the next federal election.
Let us hope that some politicians find a little bit of courage.