Calgarian who can't speak has tense showdown with Walmart security over service dog
Lucas Durfey was asked to leave Wal-Mart Tuesday night because his service dog had no documentation.
CALGARY -- A Calgarian who can’t speak had an uncomfortable encounter with security at a Walmart in Shawnessy Tuesday night.
26-year-old Lucas Durfey was shopping for groceries inside the Walmart with his service dog Lisa, a white poodle, when he was confronted by security, who asked him to leave the store.
Durfey was in a car accident several years ago, and lost most of his voluntary muscle control. He can’t speak and uses a wheelchair - and Lisa perhaps doesn’t look like the average service dog.
“I was approached initially by security. They asked if my dog was qualified to be with me and I nodded my head,” he said in an interview with CTV News (he taps out answers in text.) “I was looking at some things, and another man approached me and asked the same thing. He then asked for documentation. He was a loss prevention guy. He was wearing street clothes, so I didn’t know that (he was a store employee).”
Durfey was asked to leave but didn’t. He says he was followed around for almost an hour, preventing him from shopping and at one point says they almost pulled Lisa away from him.
Eventually, the police were called, which Durfey did his best to encourage. A manager arrived and Durfey was able to reach his father, who spoke to the manager and explained the situation.
The situation was resolved and Durfey was allowed to resume shopping, although he only had 20 minutes to buy food before he had to catch his bus.
“I think maybe because my dog doesn’t look like the average service dog,” Durfey said. “She’s a very pretty, white standard poodle.”
Durfey said he wasn’t able to produce documentation confirming that Lisa was a service dog.
In a statement, Walmart expressed regret over the incident.
“We are aware of the incident and we are very concerned. We welcome service and support animals at all Walmart Canada stores and regularly serve customers that rely on them,” said corporate affairs manager Felicia Fefer. “Upon becoming aware of the incident, we immediately reached out to the customer’s father and launched an investigation. Respect is a core value at Walmart Canada and we are committed to providing an accessible and dignified shopping experience for our customers with disabilities.
“Generally speaking, animals are not permitted in our stores for health and safety reasons. However, service and support animals are welcomed. In cases where the animal entering our store is not visibly recognizable as a service or support animal, our customers can expect that they may be asked to provide documentation confirming that the animal is a service or support animal."
Durfey said Walmart is a very accessible place for him to shop, but he won't be going back if he can't take Lisa with him.
"If you saw my dog," he says. "She's more well-behaved than half the people in the store."