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.

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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.

Erik Sherman

Erik Sherman

Contributor

Erik Sherman has written for the Wall Street Journal, Inc, Newsweek, the New York Times Magazine, and other publications. He's a regular contributor to CBS MoneyWatch and Inc.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman.

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srkoa

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.

14 hours ago Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
johnnyrob10

Teach TJ MAXX a lesson.
No one shop at their stores until September.
hit them where it counts.

Friday at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
just me

The did not prohibit her from bringing the dog into the store . . . they only asked that the dog be put in the cart (carriage). How does this violate her "rights"?

Thursday at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to just me's comment
just me

They did not . . .(correction)

Thursday at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
msinot

Hard to lift a heavy dog into a cart. Since the dog had a service vest they should have left her alone.

Friday at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fabulous

Service dogs get to move anywhere..........reguardless of what you or anyone else thinks any injury qualifies the owner to have a dog.

Thursday at 5:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Brian S

I don't get it, if the ADA states that dogs that solely provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals then what's the issue. Seems like this service dog only provided comfort so it's not a service dog under the ADA.

Thursday at 5:43 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Brian S's comment
Thomas O'Leary

Reread the story. ADA states that, dogs trained to assist with PTSD are service dogs.

Thursday at 6:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rigslip

Sorry Brian, but a 5th grader could have read the story and come away with a better understanding of the law. There was a sentence you failed to read it said:

"Dogs trained to help people with PTSD are included in the definition of service dogs."

And this one also:

" 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."

Don't forget this paragraph:

"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."

And finally, in case you believe the dog could have been mistaken for anything other than a service dog:

"He had on his service dog vest -- bright blue, says 'service dog' all over it,"

I'm also confused....did you even read the article, or did you just jump to the comment section...?????

Thursday at 8:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tercer

T.J. Maxx ought to be happy anyone shops there at all.

Thursday at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ZZ

The problem is that there needs to be some sort of national or at least State Wide organization that licenses service dogs. That would solve this problem as all the person should have to do is present that license or even a license that could be worn on the dog. Clearly this lady needed a service dog for the PTSD. However there are so many people that are abusing the service dog policies and that is reflecting unfortunately on the people that actually need them. Some people do just want to bring their dogs into stores etc. And if the dogs are trained as service dogs no problem. But if they are not, then they are a danger. And there are people that are petrified of dogs. I was with a friend who was bit as a child and one time we were in a clothing store and there was a standard poodle, not a service dog in the store. I found my friend cowering in a corner afraid. I was at Target a few weeks ago and there paging that they had a dog at customer service that someone had lost. We thought it was a joke until we saw the actual dog.

Thursday at 5:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ZZ's comment
rigslip

Great idea.....but you're about 14 years too late.

Go here
http://www.nsarco.com/

or here;
http://www.servicedogsamerica.org/

or here:
https://www.certifymydog.com/

Or just google it yourself and choose from over 50 agencies licensed by the federal government (all ADA approved)

Thursday at 8:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Lou Cubbage

You have to remember what type of people are working in those stores.

Thursday at 4:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
JB

So many of these people live in government housing and live on disability checks. They say they cannot work but then who is paying the vet bills and buying the dog food for these animals? Are we also footing that bill as taxpayers.

Thursday at 4:32 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to JB's comment
David Age

Service dogs have excellent training - roughly $40,000 worth of training. They don't poop or pee on the floor without first alerting their owner that they need to go. Service dogs don't growl or bark for no reason if they are not provoked. With the training they receive, they know when they are wearing their harness that they are in fact working. When the harness comes off, it is play time. Some of the comments here are simply being made by people who have zero knowledge about these dogs, or what they can do. The store manager was wrong, plain & simple.

Thursday at 4:32 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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