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Nature Preserve Worker Accused Of ‘Publicly Humiliating’ Guest By Calling Out His Fake Service Dog

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We all love our pets.

Which makes it all the more frustrating when a business or location doesn’t allow us to bring them in with us.

Frustrating as this is, it is also understandable, as these places are considering people who might be allergic.

While other places might be considering the health and safety of your pets, and making sure they stay out of harm’s way.

Redditor Key_Quail_7921 worked at a place which didn’t allow pets who weren’t service animals in, and was forced to refuse entry to a man who brought his dog.

But after being accused by this man of “publicly humiliating” him, the original poster (OP), took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for ‘publicly humiliating’ someone by calling out their fake service dog?”

The OP explained how a recent visitor at her place of work tried to bring his dog with him, claiming he met the location’s requirements, but the OP wasn’t having it.

“I (27 F[emale]) work at a nature preserve that explicitly forbids bringing in any dogs that aren’t service dogs.”

“This is for both safety reasons as the park is full of wild alligators and venomous snakes that are frequently ON the trail paths, and because dogs can easily disturb or harm wildlife.”

“The park has many signs explaining this to visitors, but people still bring dogs all the time and it’s become an intense pet peeve of mine, no pun intended.”

“I was preparing to lead a guided hike the other day and passed by an older man in the parking lot with a large dog that was barking at my group.”

“I politely told him that dogs weren’t allowed on the trails, to which he responded ‘I’m not on the trails’, despite obviously preparing to take his dog for a walk down one.”

“I replied that he was fine in the parking lot then, but absolutely could not take his dog on a trail.”

“He lost it and started loudly accusing me of ‘breaking federal law by denying his service dog access to a public space’.”

“I asked him what tasks the dog performed since it wasn’t wearing a vest and he said it was an emotional support animal (ESA).”

“A group was beginning to gather to watch the scene, but by this point I was pissed off and told him that an ESA is not a legally protected service animal and has zero rights to access public spaces where dogs aren’t allowed.”

“I repeated that he would not be permitted to use the trail until he took his dog home and he cussed me out, called me an ableist and left.”

“Today I found out that he emailed the park superintendent to complain about me, saying that I ‘publicly humiliated a disabled veteran for no reason’ and demanding I be punished for discriminating against him.”

“My job isn’t in trouble or anything, but my boss isn’t very familiar with service dog access laws and thinks I should have just let it go.”

“I have a close friend with a service dog who regularly suffers because of people bringing their untrained pets into spaces where they aren’t allowed and distracting hers from performing its service tasks, so I realize I might have a bias here too.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not the A**hole
  • YTA – You’re the A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everybody Sucks Here

The Reddit community was in complete agreement the OP was not the a**hole for refusing entry to the man and his dog.

Everyone agreed an emotional support animal is not the same as a service animal, rules and regulations were in place for a reason and the man had no one to blame for being humiliated but himself.


“Service dogs are specifically trained and are a legal right; whereas anyone can claim to have an ESA.”

“If he is a veteran and genuinely does need one, he can contact veterans affairs who can point him towards getting one that is trained specifically for him.”

“One that can detect when panic attacks or PTSD attacks are about to onset and can force him to sit down and stay with him until the attack passes.”- UnconfirmedRooster


“Service animals are specifically trained to serve their person.”

“They don’t bark and act up while working.”

“Your knowledge of the law is important, your boss needs to get on board.”

“I’m not comfortable being subjected to ‘companion’ animal in public in areas where pets are not allowed.”

“They are not properly trained.”

“I don’t know what that big dog is capable of, is that old man able to control it?”

“The barking alone tells me no.”

“Good for you!”- FargoDiva


“Rules and regulations apply for certified services dogs.”

“Emotional support animals are not certified service animals.”

“The man in question was a jerk.”

“He ‘humiliated’ himself.”

“It might be an idea to gather information. regarding service animals and emotional support animals, for your boss, and staff.”

“If your boss hasn’t done so already.”- mrslII

“NTA, and I applaud you and your bravery.”- Cute_Count2780


“Please use this as a reason to justify a training for all employees on service animals, and also the damage that fake service animals can do, especially in a nature preserve!”- Octogirl567



“He was a c*ckbag.”- Satansbiscuit666


“Not even shocked, dog owners are the most entitled pet owners out there and just have to bring a dog where ever they go even when not allowed to.”- Drama-Ostrich


“ESA’s aren’t service animals and for good reasons.’

“They’re pets.”

“They are not trained differently than any other dog and they are a hazard in public spaces the same way any other pet is.”- Sword_Of_Storms


‘ESAs have their place, but they do not have the same protections as actual service dogs trained to perform tasks to aid people with disabilities.”

‘If he needs an ESA to go to a purely recreational place, he should just not go.”- Katie00pupz


“Dang people are so entitled nowadays.:

“;eMotIoNaL sUpPorT’… get outta here!”- Overly_Sheltered


“There is, as you know, a world of difference between a properly trained service dog and an ’emotional support animal’.”

“You’re not the only one with this pet peeve.”

“I used to run a restaurant and people would try to pull that crap on me all the time.”

“Just because these weirdos have anthropomorphized their pets is no reason that the rest of us have to tolerate their untrained, poorly behaved ‘fur babies’.”- Amesaskew


“You did the right thing!”

“You asked the questions you can legally ask and he stated it was an ESA which is not protected as you said.”

“Plus his dog was being aggressive, barking at groups of people, which, from my understanding, can automatically be grounds for removal even if he said the dog performs specific tasks and isn’t just an ESA.”

“Good job!”- Chaotic_Fallek


“I am disabled and my service dog is now dog-reactive because people’s pets (‘ESA’s) kept attacking her in spaces she was supposed to be, and theirs were not.”

“I have gotten sh*t from restaurant managers and business owners because they look at my dog and assume I’m just an asshole trying to bring my pet along even though I am in a wheelchair and visibly disabled.”

“These dogs invariably act out and mine gets treated like she will, too.”

“The thing is, I’ve trained my own service dogs for years, so it’s not difficult to teach a pet how to sit, stay under the table, and mind their own business.”

‘But these people never do, and they have the gall to yell at how ableist others are for not letting their pets in.”

“What’s ableist is letting these assholes get their way by taking advantage of services meant for people who have actual disabilities.”

“ESAs are not service dogs.”

“But if you DID want to bring your ESA with you as a service dog, then FFS train it to actually help you and perform some kind of service, along with good canine behavior.”

“It’s NOT THAT HARD.”- reverendsmooth

“If it was a service dog, he would have stated that first thing.’

“Fake service dogs cause harm to other legit service dogs because a business owner can have one bad experience, expect to see official papers of a vest, is not necessary, and be biased against legit dogs that have a job to do.”

“Clearly he was caught here.”


“Love that you reinforced this and love that there was an audience, that’s probably why he went without a fight.”- Logical-Cranberry714


“But for the future you should probably be aware of the fact that service dogs don’t have to wear a vest so it’s not best to go off of that for figuring out if a service dog is real or not.”- smolbirb123456

It’s easy to understand why this man didn’t want to leave his dog behind.

But hopefully he’ll come to understand that the OP was truly only enforcing rules, which were primarily there to ensure everyone’s comfort and safety.

Including his dog’s.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.