Starbucks Bans Amputee Veteran’s Service Dog

Starbucks gained negative coverage two years ago when they openly supported Washington State’s bill to legalize same-sex marriage.  Christians around the nation began to contact Starbucks in protest and many stopped giving them their coffee business.

Last year at Starbucks annual shareholder’s meeting, shareholder Tom Strohbar was in attendance.  Noting that a recent boycott launched against Starbucks by the National Organization for Marriage has resulted in a significant decrease in sales, Strohbar asked Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz:

“In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings, shall we say politely, were a bit disappointing.”

Aware of Strohbar’s Christian views on marriage and his opposition to the company’s stand on same-sex marriage, Schultz replied:

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

Not only did Schultz not care about the Christian boycott of his company, but he basically told any Christian shareholders that if they don’t like what the company is doing to sell their Starbucks Stocks and take their investments elsewhere.

If that didn’t get you to stop supporting Starbucks, then perhaps their recent treatment of a wounded veteran and his service dog will.  Yancy Baer was serving in Iraq in 2009 when he suffered a leg injury.  During treatment, it was learned the Baer had bone cancer, forcing doctors to amputate his left leg below the knee.  Since that time, Baer has had a number of highs and lows in his recovery and learning to function in today’s world as an amputee.

About 14 weeks ago, Baer had an emotional high when he met Verbena, a physical service dog that was trained by Canine Companions for Independence.  Verbena had been trained to help someone like Baer function as an amputee.  Wanting to give back to Canine Companions for Independence, Baer agreed to travel from San Antonio to Houston to share his experience with others.  Baer and his contact in Houston agreed to meet at a Starbucks, but when Baer and Verbena arrived, a Starbucks employee told him they had a no dog policy.  When Baer explained that Verbena was a service dog, the employee quipped back that he wasn’t blind.

Baer says that perhaps if he had been wearing shorts so the employee could see his missing leg, there might not have been an incident.  He also said that he doesn’t hold any hard feelings against the employee or with Starbucks.

Laura Harper, spokeswoman for Starbucks says they never turn away service animals and have apologized to Baer and used this as a training incident with the Starbuck’s store in Houston.

Baer should not have had to prove his need for a service dog.  Some people have service dogs to detect seizures and others are used to calm people with certain mental conditions.  Most people with disabilities or conditions that warrant the need for having a service dog don’t like to bring attention to themselves.  The last thing they want is to have people staring at them or making a big deal over them.

In my experience and those I have spoken with over the years, it seems people with more liberal views seem to be more thoughtless and less considerate than those with more conservative and Christian views.  I don’t know if anyone has ever conducted a study to see if conservatives and Christians are more compassionate than liberals, but current politics lends some credence to the idea.  It also seems that Starbucks supports that concept and my observations.