T.J. Maxx Turns Away Marathon Bomb Survivor Over Service Dog

Company apology 'not good enough,' says woman's mother

Bombing Survivor Gets Apology After Service Dog Got Her Booted from Store

Here's a way to generate some terrible PR for your store: Kick out a survivor of last year's Boston bombing because she brought her service dog along. That's what happened at the T.J. Maxx in Nashua, NH when the manager told Boston Marathon bombing survivor Sydney Corcoran that she had to put Koda into a carriage or leave the store, according to WCVB-TV.

She did. In tears.

Corcoran was caught in the April 15, 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon. She suffered shrapnel wounds and now deals with post-traumatic stress disorder on a daily basis. Her mother, Celeste Corcoran, lost both legs in the explosion.

Koda, the service dog, has become a constant comfort and help to the 19-year-old. "Honestly, I sleep better now," Corcoran told WCVB. "I used to have a really hard time because my mind would always just be going in overdrive."

"It's almost like a miracle, you know, like what an animal can do for you when you have that bond and that connection," her mother said.

That little miracle travels with the younger Corcoran and helps her navigate the problems that post-traumatic stress disorder can create. According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD symptoms can include changes in emotional behavior like always being on guard for danger or living with guilt; upsetting dreams and severe emotional distress; memory problems, hopelessness about the future; trouble sleeping; and flashbacks.

Although dogs are not a substitute for effective PTSD treatment, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, they can help some people deal with parts of living with the emotional disability.

But the help Corcoran needs was denied her by the manager at T.J. Maxx, as she told WCVB.

"He had on his service dog vest -- bright blue, says 'service dog' all over it," Sydney said of Koda, noting that, under federal law, service dogs aren't even required to wear those vests. "The store manager came over to me and said to me, 'If you want to keep your dog in the store, you have to put him in the carriage.'"

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, businesses "that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go." Dogs trained to help people with PTSD are included in the definition of service dogs.

Furthermore, New Hampshire state laws also require service dog access, according to the Animal Legal & Historical Center. Service dogs includes those trained to help with "physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability," and retail shops are explicitly included as a covered "place of public accommodation."

Corcoran left the store in tears and called her mother. The manager apologized later, but Celeste Corcoran said, "That's not good enough. You should have known," as she said in the WCVB interview. T.J. Maxx has also released a statement apologizing for the incident and saying that it will ensure employees understand the laws relating to service animals.

Both mother and daughter, along with Celeste Corcoran's sister, ran the 2014 Boston Marathon and finished in 4 hours, 33 minutes, according to a picture from the New York Daily News.

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Whether or not the dog is to "help her sleep better" or for whatever reason, the store Manager was a jerk. If you let them get by with turning away this service dog, for whatever reason, it will be a signal to others that they can do the same. It's not right and they (TJ Maxx) Should not get away with it. The manager should be reprimanded if not fired. Of all people, a Manager of a store should know better!

August 07 2014 at 11:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Again, this is not a service dog but a therapy dog. Get a grip on life. We all love our dogs but I can't take mine into stores either.

August 07 2014 at 11:41 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

What will happen when the dog dies in a few years? Will she need a "service cat" to help her with her Post-Traumatic-Dog-Syndrome?

August 02 2014 at 3:47 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to S M's comment

Last I checked dogs typically last 10 years... and he looks fairly young to me. As long as he does live he will help to improve the quality of life for this young lady. . You on the other hand will likely not improve anyone's life by the tone of your post. Too bad they don't have service animals for your condition. :P

August 07 2014 at 11:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

That's correct - there is no certification for "service dogs." People who simply want to bring their pet with them everywhere they go can buy one of those vests online and claim they have a service dog. If a store, restaurant, hotel airline, etc. even questions the supposedly disabled person, that business can be sued.
There are those such as myself who have severe allergies to dogs - the kind that can cause a fatal asthma attack - who are left wondering where are our rights? Don't we have a right to breathe? So these special disabled people can feel comforted by their pets, we must leave stores and other public places because we are made sick by their dogs.
I don't think the Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to be abused like this. There are actually very few disabled people who truly need a service dog with them at all times.
I was once in a pharmacy when a man with a dog came in and loudly told everyone in line about his diabetes and how his dog helps him recognize that he might be having a high blood sugar and should take insulin. Well, that's what a blood glucose meter is for! No need to bring his dog everywhere! I had to leave the line, leave the pharmacy, and use my rescue inhaler because his dog gave me an asthma attack. That is an unpleasant medicine that made me feel awful and ruined my whole evening. I got off easy, I could have been much sicker. All because some 'special' person wants to be privileged and bring his pet everywhere with him.
These behaviors also make people skeptical of those who truly need their service dogs with them because of all these fakers.

August 02 2014 at 2:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to epssearose's comment

She said the dog helps her "sleep",. I do not believe she was going to "sleep" in the store. I would have kicked her out as well, the idea that this is a service dog is a joke.

August 01 2014 at 12:44 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to nqs12's comment

That was just one of the things the dog did for her. You don't understand the depth of the issues around PTSD. "Can't we all just get along?". What harm was the dog doing? In Europe dogs are allowed to be in most shops and restaurants (as long as they are well behaved) and the world has not come to an end there.

August 04 2014 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You are a tragic individual.

August 07 2014 at 11:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ugh, more of these "Service Dog" articles? It's a dog, there is no certification for "Service Dog"....

July 30 2014 at 9:05 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to largeeyes's comment

Brilliance always shines through except when the ignorance blocks it.

August 04 2014 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The LEGAL approval is for the Human needing the dog.. NOT for the dog itself. IF the dog can fulfill the service needed... then they are, by legal definition... a Service Dog.
BTW.. PTSD is legally recognized UNDER THE LAW.

BTW... there was a service dog in the news recently who could detect when his master.. a young boy .. was going into a life threatening seizure ... BEFORE medical machines could even detect it. The doctors happily allowed this service dog right into the operating room. I wonder how many just BELIEVED this kid had his pet in his hospital bed... without knowing the REST OF THE STORY.
Perhaps you might try walking a few miles in the shoes of a PTSD individual before you start making assumptions.

August 08 2014 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not talking about certified service animals but WHAT in the hell is it with people taking their dogs everywhere now days? I saw a woman with this big ass mixed breed dog walking around a store, the woman was wearing a shirt that said "ALPHA DOG" on it and it sure wasn't a service animal, I said something to a manager but they did nothing. I see people frequently taking their dog's into stores and I think it's inappropriate.

July 29 2014 at 8:34 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

If it is in fact a service dog then TJ Maxx was wrong in this incident. But, see how easy it is to google and buy a vest for a dog that says it is a service dog. I can buy a vest on Amazon and have to provide no proof that the dog is an actual certified service dog. And the amount of little dogs in grocery stores because owners can't put precious through the trauma of leaving them alone for a half an hour. And don't think I am a heartless dog hater, I have two spoiled rotten dogs who non stop whine until I get home. I wish the lady well, but where do you draw the line?

July 29 2014 at 5:30 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wgibbs4926's comment

It IS a real problem because there will always be those who cheat... but why should those who actually NEED service dogs pay the price for that?
People like store managers and others who deal with the public daily should make themselves aware of the LAWS concerning service dogs. The Law is quite specific on these details.

My own mother used to THINK people with handicaps were getting "special" treatment ... and sadly .. resented it. UNTIL her own son had a major stroke. NOW she GETS IT. A hard way to learn.

My rule of thumb as for ... where to draw the line ... is to err on the side of the individual with the Service Dog. If they ARE just cheating... then that's their bad karma...and their 'moral' handicap is eventually gonna BITE them. : P If they are NOT "cheating" .. then God Bless them. Trust me... Universal Consciousness can sort out which is which. ~ Peace ~

August 08 2014 at 12:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am terrified of dogs, having been attacked by one as a child. I appreciate the fact that she was asked to put the dog in a carriage, which was probably a shopping cart, in consideration of other shoppers. I am a senior and lived through the Blitz of London in WW2 so am no stranger to trauma, these kind of experiences are life changing, but one must still consider other peoples fears!

July 24 2014 at 6:16 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

You can't just declare your dog to be a service dog, they must be specially trailed. Trained service dogs cannot be refused, however ppl are beginning to think any dog that helps them is a service dog. Not so.

July 21 2014 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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