by Anum Valliani
MIDLAND - A woman in Midland was trying to shop for a Halloween costume with her son and her service dog. She said the Spirit Halloween store on West Illinois asked her to leave because they were discriminating against the furry companion. Store managers say it was her mouth that got her kicked out.
Watching a movie, grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, visiting the Centennial Library, Misty Barton does it all with Tanner. That's because the German Shepard can smell when she's about get a seizure.
"Yes, I'm not in a wheelchair. Yes, I don't have crutches. Yes, I don't have a walker, my walker, my crutches, happen to have four legs," Barton said.
But on Saturday, she says she was removed from a Spirit Halloween store in Midland because of the dog. She said that an employee told her dogs weren't allowed in the building.
"I told him, I understand that, but my dog is a service dog," and he says, "Well that's okay, but the mall doesn't allow pet dogs, service dogs, any kind of dogs, you're going to have to leave."
She said she then insisted that she needed to make him understand that making her leave is a federal and state felony, upon which she said he responded with, "That's fine, you have to go."
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses must let service animals into places normally open to the public as long as they're under control. Officials from the store said once they realized he was a service dog, they had no problem with Tanner being in the store.
Spirit Halloween District Manager, Jacob Halverson, said the problem arose because Barton became argumentative when she requested to come back after hours. She wanted to get her dog used to those popular motion-activated Halloween toys that jump out at you, like a rattlesnake that initially spooked the dog.
"The company policy is that we cannot have customers in the store after business hours," Halverson said. "She started using profanity and because of the profanity and it's a family store, we had to ask her to leave."
But Misty said she definitely didn't drop the "F bomb."
"My son has Tourette's. If he hears any profanity, he'll repeat it over and over and over again, right then and there," Barton said.
Barton left the property and told NewsWest 9 that if she returns she'll be charged with criminal trespassing. But the store says they haven't filed any charges at this time.
"I think the biggest thing was just that it was a miscommunication in wording," Halverson said.