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Disabled veteran told he could not bring his service dog into Starbucks

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“You go through the low points and high points,” muses Yancy Baer. He knows a lot about both. While serving in Iraq in 2009, he learned he had bone cancer after undergoing treatment for a leg injury. His left leg from the knee down had to be amputated.

A high point came about 14 weeks ago when he met his new best friend, Verbena, a physical service dog that had come to him through a national organization called Canine Companions for Independence.

Another low point came this week. Baer had traveled to Houston from San Antonio to share his experience on behalf of the organization. He had arranged to meet his contact at a Stabucks. But before he could enter the store, he was confronted by an employee who told him the store had a no-dogs policy. When Baer explained that Verbena was his service dog, the employee countered, “You’re not blind.”

[Video of news report here]

“People with disabilities, you can’t always see those disabilities,” Baer says philosophically. “You never know what a service dog is for.”

Baer notes that he was wearing pants at the time. He believes the employee wouldn’t have made such a fuss if had been wearing shorts. He says he harbors no hard feelings or ill will toward Starbucks.

Corporate spokeswoman Laurel Harper released the following statement to KHOU:

Starbucks always welcomes service animals to our stores, and this customer’s experience is not consistent with the welcoming and friendly environment we strive to create for everyone. We have spoken with this customer to apologize for his experience, and we hope to have the opportunity to serve him again. We have also spoken with our store partner about this situation and used this as a coaching opportunity for the future.

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