Heartless Shopper Harasses Woman With Service Dog During Medical Episode at JCPenney

Katie, a TikTok user and service dog owner, recently experienced a disturbing incident at a JCPenney store. Her experience has highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by individuals with service animals.

Katie suffers from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a condition that requires the assistance of her service dog, Bailey, especially during medical episodes.

A woman with a service dog experienced a medical episode at JCPenney.
Photo: Pexels
A woman with a service dog experienced a medical episode at JCPenney.

The Incident at JCPenney

Katie was sitting on the floor of JCPenney with Bailey when she noticed a woman repeatedly glaring at her. Despite Katie’s obvious distress, the woman approached her and demanded to know why she was sitting on the floor.

As We Got This Covered reports, Katie explained she was having a medical episode and couldn’t move. The woman, showing no empathy, asked, “You can’t sit anywhere else?”

The woman’s insensitivity didn’t end there. She questioned the necessity of Katie’s service dog and suggested Katie didn’t look like she needed one.

“You obviously had to move to get here, so you can’t just move a little bit further?” she asked.

Her remarks were not only heartless but also demonstrated a lack of understanding of the critical role service dogs play in their owners’ lives.

She was harassed by a fellow shopper during her medical crisis.
Photo: Pexels
She was harassed by a fellow shopper during her medical crisis.

Lack of Empathy and Understanding

This incident is not an isolated case. Service dog owners frequently encounter skepticism and discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as dogs trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. These tasks range from visual assistance to alerting owners of oncoming medical episodes.

Despite legal protections, service dog owners often face mistreatment. Katie’s experience at JCPenney is a stark reminder of this reality.

The ADA stipulates that service animals must be allowed to accompany their owners in public spaces. However, the woman at JCPenney chose to disregard these protections, further aggravating Katie’s already challenging situation.

Katie's service dog was essential for her condition.
Photo: Pexels
Katie’s service dog was essential for her condition.

Public Reaction and Support

The TikTok video Katie posted documenting the incident has garnered significant attention, with over 14 million views.

Viewers expressed outrage and sympathy in the comments. Many were shocked by the woman’s behavior, with one user writing, “The RAGE I felt for you… She’s lucky I didn’t overhear this interaction.”

Another commenter, also a POTS sufferer, shared their frustration with The Daily Dot, noting, “People don’t get that sometimes we have to sit down before the floor comes up to greet us.”

This comment underscores the importance of public awareness and education regarding invisible disabilities and the essential role of service animals.

Many viewers expressed sympathy and support for Katie.
Photo: Pexels
Many viewers expressed sympathy and support for Katie.

The Importance of Empathy

Katie’s ordeal highlights a broader issue: the need for greater empathy and understanding towards individuals with disabilities. The ADA explicitly states that fear of dogs or allergies are not valid reasons for denying access to service animals. Yet, Katie’s experience suggests that ignorance and prejudice still prevail in many public spaces.

Experts and advocates emphasize the importance of treating individuals with disabilities with respect and compassion.

As one commenter pointed out, “If I saw someone sitting on the ground with a service dog, my first move would be asking if they are ok & can I do anything to help?”

@serviceaussiebailey While going through a medical episode , this person kept walking by and clearly was angry at me. I decided to record for my safety but also I did not feel comfortable making it noticeable that I was recording her behavior. I could barely form sentences and my speech was slower due to my ongoing medical decline. If you are having a bad day, please do not take it out on others. I barely want to leave my house because of interactions like Unfortunately while filming, my phone died during the last bit but she ended up walking up to the clothing she was desperate to look at. (It was about 1ft away from me). I just sat there trying to stay calm and she looked at the price then left. Idk what she gained from that. #servicedog #POTS #foryou #karen ♬ original sound – Bailey and Katie

A Call for Change

Katie’s story is a powerful reminder of the challenges faced by service dog owners. It calls for increased awareness and better enforcement of legal protections.

As society becomes more informed about invisible disabilities, there is hope that incidents like this will become less frequent, but public education is crucial. By understanding the vital role of service animals and recognizing the rights of their owners, we can foster a more inclusive and compassionate society.

This experience should serve as a catalyst for change, encouraging us all to act with greater empathy and understanding.

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