Even the happiest place on Earth is not safe from entitled jerks. On December 29 a video surfaced on Reddit in which a couple approached a disabled woman and her service animal, attempting to use the animal to entertain their children. The owner of the service dog asked them repeatedly to back away, and they continued to harass her.
Woman in wheelchair at Disney asks this father not to encourage his children to distract her service dog and even says she is uncomfortable. Parents don’t care, begin to insult and record the woman, going so far as to mock her disability. from trashy
The harassing family hurled expletives at the disabled woman, called her fat, and said other ridiculous and hateful things.
The original poster on Reddit included the text of the Facebook post from the disabled woman:
“People have service dogs for all kinds of disabilities. These amazing dogs have spent roughly 2 years of training to guide the blind, sense oncoming seizures and other medical crisis, aid their person out of a dissociative state, alert to sounds their person can’t hear, and so much much more. They are with their person as a much needed and loved medical tool and it can be very frustrating when the public doesn’t respect that. As was the case here….”
“We were sitting with friends near a bathroom in Disney California Adventure taking a much needed break. I wasn’t feeling great to start with. Sulley was tucked alongside my wheelchair. I had noticed this man bringing his child continuously closer to ‘look at the doggie’ and did my best to stave off my anxiety over it. After a few minutes I called Sulley to the other side of my chair in hopes making him less visible would give this man the hint that he was making me very uncomfortable. Instead he simply did his best to maneuver his child into view. He began making kissy noises and other sounds in attempt to gain my service dog’s attention. This is when I couldn’t stay silent anymore. Deliberately distracting a service dog is DANGEROUS. It can cause them to miss vital cues their handler gives for them to alert to their medical conditions. I looked over and politely said ‘sir, could you please leave us alone? You’re making me really uncomfortable.'”
“He was not pleased. Some choice words were said about how he’s only looking at the dog and I should ‘get over it.’ I again addressed him with ‘you’re making me uncomfortable and you’re distracting my service dog from his job. Please leave us alone.’ His temper grew to the point his poor child ended up crying, which I noted to him. His wife then comes upon the scene, yells at me and begins filming. I told them to leave or I would have security called. After calling for someone to please call security, I took out my own phone to film for safety. Sadly I’ve had people escalate to becoming physical over this in the past. Yes, physical, as in have been physically assaulted over asking to be left alone.”
“I don’t understand how we’ve reached a point where we can’t respect someone who politely says that you’re making them uncomfortable and to just move on. I assure you, your child will be far happier to meet Pluto and Goofy than to merely hawk at my service dog that’s too busy and too well trained to pay any mind to them.”
The incident sparked some serious discussion about boundaries with service animals.
“It’s super easy to teach a kid not to bother a service dog. My kid loves dogs. If we see a service dog, I hurry her along and say that we can’t bother that dog, he is working. She is three and now understands the vest (and I know not all service animals have vests) means leave the dog alone. She says mama, that dog is working hard and leaves it alone.”
“What gets me is how offended they were about not being able to play with other peoples’ service dog. I love dogs, I am tempted to pet them when I see them, if the owner says no I say okay and walk away, why get so bent out of shape?”
“Not even the same severity, but I’m a dog walker and people get deeply offended when I ask them not to pet any animal I’m walking. I cant predict how an animal that isnt mine is going to react to a stranger, and I’m not going to put anyone at risk just so you can pet the dog.”
“Imagine spending money to go to Disney, a place designed to entertain, and getting hung up because you can’t pet a SERVICE dog.”
“The unmentioned fact behind ‘These amazing dogs have spent roughly 2 years of training’ is that it costs tens of thousands of dollars per dog to train, some of which is sometimes paid by the dog’s disabled owner. In addition to distracting the dog from doing its medically prescribed job, doing what these f*cking sh*tstains did can cause lots of stress for the dog and it threatens to undo or weaken that training. Which means the dog might have to go back in for refresher training at additional cost of thousands of dollars.”
“Dont touch Dogs that dont belong to you. Hands down.”
People also talked about the clientele often seen at Disneyland:
“Former Disney castmember here: people get really stressed at Disneyland and get really sh*tty. Also, really sh*tty people go to Disneyland.”
“I’ve had families tie their small children to trash cans so they could go on a ride that the child was to small for. I’ve seen families dump their very disabled, wheelchair bound children off to the side of a walkway with the summer sun beating down so that they could get in a two hour line for a 120 second long ride. I’ve seen people encourage their kids to sh*t in the bushes in a line so that they wouldn’t have to leave. I’ve caught adults sh*tting into plastic bags while in line for Indiana Jones.”
“People are just the f*cking worst.”
“Edit: this kind of really blew up. I see a few AMA requests and while I do have plenty of stories (and not all of them involve terrible people sh*tting in places), I’m sure I’m bound by some NDA I signed a decade ago. People are awful, but for the most part the people that work at Disneyland (and Disney World) really do want it to be a magical place. I’ll leave this story here to kind of balance things out:”
“I used to work jungle cruise, and this little girl, who had spent the entire day collecting autographs, accidentally dropped her autograph book in the water. Luckily, the area manager that night had previously been an entertainment manager and part of being an entertainment manager is that you have to memorize every single character’s signature.”
“So we gave the family some re-ads (basically a fast pass for any ride), told them to come back in about an hour because we were calling in all the characters and we were going to have them all sign a new autograph book for her. So while the family was off riding a couple rides, the entertainment manager wrote some personalized messages and autographed the book with every single character’s signature.”
“The little girl was beyond happy, mom was crying, dad was holding the tears back.”
“It was a pretty great night. Makes up for all the bullsh*t that can happen sometimes.”
Disneyland usually serves as a haven for all people, including service dogs, making this such a sad display:
Someone spotted a Service Dog getting a caricature at Disneyland pic.twitter.com/qXvx8SCKu1
— Awkward Animals (@SoVeryAwkward) August 13, 2017
Today at Disneyland I got to witness Pluto meeting a service dog and I feel complete
— 🐚🐝 (@shelbidi) April 29, 2018
— Brandi Hitt (@ABC7Brandi) April 5, 2018
A fellow puppy raiser for CCI took her puppy, ELIJAH to #disneyland this week! Have you ever seen anything cuter? She’s on Instagram @fosteringpuppies and you should totally follow her if you’re over there! Thanks, Ashley, for all you do! #sdit #cci #puppypics #servicedog pic.twitter.com/uEshZgcGvE
— Rebecca Minelga (@RebeccaMinelga) December 29, 2018
One time, I was on Haunted Mansion at Disneyland & they stopped the ride because a service dog got too spooked & ran for it.
I think about it every ten seconds & it looks like this: pic.twitter.com/WuG6FP11XM
— Adam McCabe (@AdamSMcCabe) September 3, 2018
— We Love Dogs, USA (@WeLoveDogsUSA) August 1, 2018
— LAist (@LAist) February 14, 2016
Last nite at Disneyland: Service dog doesn't quite know what to make of Pluto pic.twitter.com/ZF00LKw2YM
— David Koenig (@davekoenig) November 16, 2017
The highlight of my Disneyland trip yesterday was seeing this service dog who hand his own Mickey ears 😂💕 pic.twitter.com/q29X9Jil7y
— brianna (@lazyalmond) February 3, 2016
— We Love Dogs, USA (@WeLoveDogsUSA) May 24, 2015
As disheartening as this incident was, it serves as a reminder to have a conversation with your family about service dogs. Service dogs are working members of society and are trained to help their owners. They are usually working when they are in public. If you need assistance with starting a family conversation about service animals, IHeartDogs.com has developed a neat little guide on the ins and outs, what you need to know, and a cool, fun way to put the lesson in stone.
Remember, nobody wants to be that other family at Disneyland.