Service dogs are a common site in most public places, and many establishments are welcoming and equipped to handle having these furry helpers in their building. One major pet store chain’s grooming area policy has one man fighting for the rights that he believes have been violated. Now the man has generated a petition to spur Petco to change its policies.
Ryan Honick, a man who has cerebral palsy, can usually be found with his service dog, Pico, by his side. That’s why he was so upset when he was told by Petco employees that he couldn’t go into the grooming area with his canine companion. He decided to take matters into his own hands for himself, and all other disabled people with service dogs.
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Pico has been helping Honick for the last 18 months. The service dog is never far from his side. Pico is more than just a companion animal; he helps Honick with daily tasks that would otherwise be insurmountable challenges.
Honick says that the bond that a disabled person has with their service dog is unlike anything that exists between a traditional pet and his master. He says that Pico is never more than a few feet away from him, and he helps with anything that Honick may need. Pico picks up things that he drops, pushes automatic door switches, turns lights off and on, opens drawers, and anything else that his handler may need help with throughout the day.
Last month, ironically during the week of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Honick faced an unexpected issue when taking Pico for his regular bath and grooming. He typically takes Pico to Petco for their grooming services, but this time he was told by the new store manager that they would now be enforcing a policy that does not allow pet parents in the grooming area.
Honick argues that Pico is not a pet; he is a service dog with extensive training. He believes that their working relationship could be damaged if they are separated, even for a short time. He also wants to be present to make sure the dog is not mishandled, which could interfere with the animals working relationship with Honick as well.
He also says that federal law states that he be in control of his service dog at all times, so if something were to go wrong, Honick would be in violation of federal law. Petco responded to the inquiry from a local news station saying that they welcome all guests, including those with disabilities, and the company is committed to following the ADA rules.
In the statement, Petco said that the service areas in their grooming salons are not open to the public while pets are being groomed due to the concern for the safety of the pets, their parents, and the employees. Honick has created a website called letpicowork.com to circulate a petition that he created to get Petco to change their policies.