Janet Butt took her grandson, Maverick, and his service dog, Abner, to Walmart in Corner Brook Thursday so the little guy could buy some Legos from the money given to him by a great aunt. Maverick has autism.
A Happy Meal at McDonald’s in the Corner Brook store was the plan for after Maverick had selected the Legos he wanted.
The Deer Lake grandmother figured it would be just another day in a place frequented by her, the boy and his dog. It’s the same store where Butt received her certification papers for Abner to be a service dog for the 10-year-old.
She always praised Walmart for being so accepting and the store has a sign in the front window that says service dogs are welcome.
Abner is popular at the store with employees calling him by name and there has never been an issue with the dog in all of her previous visits, according to the disappointed grandmother.
But Butt says she is no longer a big fan of the retail giant after her experience Thursday.
She says they were in the toy section with Abner next to Maverick on the floor when a female employee approached and asked what Abner was doing there.
Butt said she told the employee that the dog was working and that he was a service dog for her grandson.
The employee, according to Butt, threw them for a loop when she told them that the jacket the dog was wearing wasn’t adequate identification and demanded she produce the paperwork that shows Abner is a legitimate service dog.
After a short discussion, with Maverick getting upset upon hearing the jacket wasn’t being accepted, Butt got her husband to take Maverick out of the store.
Butt says she didn’t get any satisfaction from the employee, who she said bolted away from her after she hauled out her cellphone and said she was going to record what she was saying.
Butt said she asked to speak with the manager but was told he wasn’t in the store. She also talked to another sales associate about her concerns, somebody she knew personally, and was told she would pass on her concerns.
Butt hasn’t been in contact with anybody from Walmart since the incident, but she hopes something will be done to prevent her grandson from having a similar situation happen to him.
Multiple attempts to reach a representative with Walmart were not successful. Phone messages and emails were not returned prior to deadline Friday afternoon.
“I thought with every inch of my being that this was just an employee who didn’t know her job,” Butt said.
She figured the matter would be resolved by somebody from Walmart confirming that the jacket was real and Abner was working, and was disappointed when she had to leave the store with no one willing to address her concerns and acknowledge their mistake.