OGDEN (ABC4 News) – A former volunteer firefighter wants education and training on disability rights for employees at an Ogden Chevron gas station after he said he was kicked out on Saturday for having his service dog inside.
Travis Lott said his 17-month-old poodle, Bowie, is always by his side. That’s because Bowie has a special job as his service dog. Lott said he uses him for stability and mobility after battling a series of bone tumors and amputating his right leg in December.
“I’m with Bowie more than I’m with my family members,” he said. “If I fall one way, I’ve got his harness than I can grab to anchor and push me back to where I need to be. When I need to get up, Bowie will lay down so I can use him to stand up off the ground.”
On Saturday, Lott said he stopped at a Chevron gas station on 30th Street and Washington Boulevard in Ogden where he was asked to leave after bringing his service dog inside.
“Within a few seconds, one of the employees stopped me and said ‘Get the dog outside,'” said Lott. “Another employee came to me and aggressively said ‘Get the dog out of my store.'”
Lott said he tried explaining that Bowie was his service dog and what their rights were, but the situation escalated.
“One of the employees pushed me. I pushed him back. I said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ At that point, all of us got a little bit aggressive and heated,” he said. “I decided to call the police.”
Lt. Michael Boone with the Ogden Police Department said while officers did respond to the scene to deescalate the situation, they can only enforce criminal law. No charges or arrests were made, but Lt. Boone said officers did try to educate the gas station employees about service animal rights.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):
“State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.”
Dr. Joan Nold with Labs for Liberty, a nonprofit organization that raises and trains dogs to be gifted as service dogs to wounded warriors, said the only places that are an exception to this rule are burn centers, emergency operating rooms, and places of worship.
Although the ADA has been around since 1990, Lott said individuals with disabilities still face discrimination on a daily basis.
“We deal with it all the time with people telling us we can’t have our service dog inside somewhere. I use that as an educational opportunity,” he said. “A lot of people don’t understand the necessity. People with diabetes or epilepsy may depend on that service dog being right there with them, sometimes 24/7.”
Lott said he’s contacted Chevron’s corporate department to encourage education and training on disability rights for their employees.
“First of all, I’d like to apologize that the situation even escalated to the point that it did, even though I wasn’t the first person to cause anything,” he said. “I hope this will never happen to someone else. Nobody ever wants to get into a fight, especially when it gets physical or even a heated argument. I hope they’ll understand the gravity of this situation and the importance of service dogs to their owners.”
Chevron’s corporate media relations team issued this statement to ABC4 News:
“Chevron has received the customer’s compliant about this independently owned retail station. We take these complaints very seriously and will thoroughly investigate. Diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of our corporate values and Chevron prides itself on fostering an inclusive environment.”