Amy Kaplan claims a barista wouldn’t let Zero, an Alaskan malamute, join her for coffee

By Drew Mackie
September 03, 2014 05:45 PM

“I wanted a Frappuccino, not a hassle.”

That’s how Brighton, New York, resident Amy Kaplan explained the kerfuffle over her service dog, an Alaskan malamute named Zero, in a segment on WHAM news.

On Sunday, Kaplan posted a YouTube clip of her interactions with a barista who questioned her about the dog. “Are you denying me access because of my service dog?” Kaplan asks.

“No, I’m not. I’m telling you that you can’t come in with your service dog,” the employee responds.

Kaplan suffered a brain injury in a vehicular accident two years ago, and also suffers from bipolar disorder. She has explained to local media that Zero helps her overcome issues such as memory loss and anxiety.

When she filed a report, police determined that while she wasn’t denied entry, she was excessively questioned. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled people should be allowed to bring their helper animals anywhere that customers are allowed to go. Employees may ask about the animal’s status and what services it provides, but cannot legally insist that the customer produce proof.

On Tuesday, Starbucks apologized to Kaplan for the incident: “I want to personally apologize to you about what happened,” read a letter from Starbucks Regional Vice President Sumi Gosh. “It is not consistent with our standards and policies and your experience was clearly not what we would have wanted for you.”

Kaplan claims she objected to her treatment neither for money or attention – just to raise awareness about the unfair treatment that disabled people get when they go somewhere with a service dog.

“It’s not even the dog’s fault. It’s just the uneducated public that makes life so hard,” said Kaplan in a YouTube clip she posted. “It’s the knowledge that any time you go anywhere, there’s a possibility that someone is going to come up to you and tell you to get out, just because you’re accompanied by your service dog.”

A similar event involving a disabled veteran occurred at a Houston area Starbucks back in February.

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