A disabled man in a wheelchair was denied access to Petco’s grooming area while his Labrador service dog was being groomed. He says Petco discriminates against the disabled and is urging the company to change it’s policies
The controversy over bath time policies for pets has disabled man, Ryan Honick, fighting for his rights which he says were violated by Petco.
Ryan Honick, who has cerebral palsy, is never far away from his service dog, Pico.
When he was told he couldn’t go with his dog into the grooming area at Petco, he took matters into his own hands – not just for himself, but for others with disabilities and service dogs.
Pico, a Labrador Retriever, has been at Honick’s side for the last 18 months. The Labrador service dog is more than just a companion. What would normally be a day of insurmountable challenges for Honick is made doable because of his service dog.
“The bond is unlike anything else that exists between humans and traditional pets,” said Honick. “He is never more than a few feet away from me at any given point. He helps me with anything I need – picking up things that I drop constantly, helping me with automatic door switches, lights switches, drawers, anything that I need.”
Ironically, during the week of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act last month, Honick faced an unexpected challenge while taking Pico for his regular grooming and bath.
He was told by their new store manager that they were enforcing their policy not to allow pet parents, as Petco refers to them, in the back cutting area, Honick told Fox5.
But Honick says, Pico is not a pet, but a service dog with extensive training. He contends their working relationship could be damaged if they are apart. Should Pico be mishandled, that could interfere with how Pico helps Honick.
Ryan says another reason he’s concerned about not being with Pico during bath time is that federal law requires he be in control of his service dog at all times. He says if he is not with Pico during his bath, he might be in violation of federal law if something goes wrong.
Petco responded to Fox 5’s questions about the issue saying they welcome all guests including those with disabilities and they are committed to following ADA rules.
But they nonetheless stood firmly with the store manager’s decision. In a statement, Petco said:
“Out of concern for the safety of our customers, their pets and our partners, the services areas in our grooming salons are not open to the public while pets are being groomed.”
Honick has created a website letpicowork.com to circulate a petition to get Petco to change its policy. He’s doing it, he says, not just for himself but for others who deal with similar struggles.
“We’ve made a lot of progress but this shows that even now in 2015, we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.