EUGENE, Ore. – Everywhere Hollie Macdonald goes, her dog Daphne is right by her side.
The Eugene resident was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder a few years ago. “I’m a survivor of sexual assault, that’s where the PTSD comes from,” Macdonald said.
Triggers like loud noises and crowds can cause Macdonald to have panic attacks and anxiety on a daily basis.
That’s where Daphne steps in.
“She helps me focus when I’m stressed out in public,” she said.
Daphne is a psychiatric service animal, traveling with Macdonald to the store and on public transportation.
But a month ago, Macdonald said, she was refused service by employees at a Eugene Dari Mart. The employee also questioned the dog’s service standing – and the owner’s disability – by saying, ‘”‘Oh, what is she gonna do? Go get that candy bar for you?” Macdonald recalled.
Local dog trainer Harold Hansen tells us that shouldn’t have happened. He said federal law prohibits businesses from asking why someone needs a service animal.
“The people in the store or the hotel or the restaurant can’t ask what’s your disability; that’s still illegal,” Hansen said. “But they can ask, ‘What job does your dog do?'”
Hansen says the dog must also do a job, meaning it has to assist the owner in some way. And that “way” can be anything from pulling a wheelchair to helping PTSD survivors through their day.
Macdonald said she hopes her experience will help educate others.
“I’m not blind, I’m not in a wheelchair, I don’t have an apparent physical disability,” she said. “I just feel like people need to know that there are lots of other things service animals do.”
A spokeswoman for Dari Mart told KATU’s Eugene sister station, KVAL, that its stores follow all state and national guidelines. The spokeswoman also said Dari Mart has signs clearly posted in all of its stores welcoming service animals.