November 8, 2010
To the owners of Blake's Cider Mill:
Yesterday, your establishment lost a sale.
I'm writing to you in the hopes that you won't also lose a customer.
I am a volunteer puppy-raiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind, based in Rochester, Michigan. Yesterday, my husband and I brought Future Leader Dog (FLD) Gus with us to your Cider Mill on Armada Center Road. FLD Gus is my third Leader Dog puppy that has visited Blake's.
Taking a Future Leader Dog puppy in public, wherever a blind or visually-impaired person is likely to go, is necessary for proper socialization in preparing the puppy for the important job as a guide dog. It is also a great opportunity to educate the public on how to approach an assistance dog and to explain the vital mission of Leader Dogs for the Blind--enhancing the lives of the blind and visually-impaired.
While the American Disabilities Act guarantees access to public businesses to all assistance dogs, there is no law in Michigan requiring these same businesses to allow access to assistance dogs "in training." Leader Dogs for the Blind asks its puppy-raisers to garner permission before bringing our puppies into public places.
In September, when FLD Gus was barely seven weeks old, I called your Cider Mill and asked permission to bring him with us; at that time I was granted permission and we enjoyed buying cider, delicious donuts, and apples. FLD Gus drew much attention during that very busy day, as is typical wherever we go with him.
Because I so recently brought FLD Gus to your Cider Mill, I did not think it was necessary to call for permission again.
Yesterday, a woman who identified herself as the manager refused to allow FLD Gus to stay in the building.
In the three years that I have raised puppies for Leader Dogs for the Blind, this was only the fourth time I was denied access to a business with my puppy. I have taken my Future Leader Dog puppies to grocery stores, restaurants, malls, concerts, museums, art galleries, basketball games, plays, post-offices and banks, libraries, bars, movie theaters, schools, boat tours, bowling alleys, big-box stores, corner drug-stores, fruit markets, street fairs, baby showers... If I encounter an employee who is unsure, a short conversation with a manager about the mission of Leader Dogs and my role as puppy-raiser is enough for us to be welcomed.
I believe that your manager simply did not understand that she could, indeed, allow us access without risking her job or the shutdown of your business. She stated that the Health Department would shut down your business immediately if they happened to walk in while FLD Gus was in the building. This is NOT true.
I hope that you will communicate to your employees that Blake's Cider Mill supports the mission of Leader Dogs for the Blind by granting access to all Future Leader Dog puppies in training. It goes without saying that these puppies are very well behaved!
I also hope that a blind or visually-impaired person with a guide dog, or other persons dependent on assistance dogs, will be cordially granted access as well.
patti brehler and FLD Gus
|FLD Gus and I enjoying our first visit to Blake's Cider Mill.|