Fred Meyer service dog policy questioned after Pitbull run-in |

A legally blind woman who says her service dog was nearly attacked by a Pit Bull inside a Northeast Portland Fred Meyer is looking for answers on why uncertified dogs are allowed in stores.

Laura Westerhuis said she does not feel safe inside her local grocery store because Fred Meyer’s policy on keeping dogs who are not service animals out is not stringent enough, and isn’t being enforced.

“It’s not safe for a blind person but it’s the closest store for me to go to as a blind person,” she said

Carol Westerhuis, who is legally blind, says her service dog was nearly attacked inside a Fred Meyer, and does not feel safe in the store.

It is against Fred Meyer Store policy for animals that are not service animals to be inside the store.

Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, store staff can ask customers who have dogs with them inside the store whether or not the dog is a service animal.If the customer says yes, the store must allow the animal to stay.

Still, Westerhuis says on two-separate occasions inside the Gateway location, she had run-ins with dogs who were not service animals. In one instance, a Fred Meyer staff member witnessed the incident and did nothing, she says.

Fred Meyer spokesperson Melinda Merrill said the company’s hands are tied in many instances. She said people abuse the store’s policy.

Issues of safety

Westerhuis’ Labrador-Golden Retriever mix “Carol” is essential to her functioning. In fact, she calls the dog “her eyes.

Carol guided Westerhuis through the aisles of the Gateway Center Fred Meyer for years. She recalls the incidents with other animals with fear.

“The first one was the Pitbull lunging at my service animal and the manager saying there’s nothing they can do about it,” said Westerhuis.

“I went above him and the store director said the same thing,” she said.

Westerhuis said the Pitbull that attacked “Carol” two months ago was clearly not a service dog – animals trained to behave in public spaces like grocery stores.

How to enforce the policy

Stores can ask customers if their pet is service animal, but if the customer says yes, staff cannot ask the customer to leave.

Merrill said if a dog growls, attacks, licks or sniffs merchandise, it is grounds for removal.

Stores are reminded about the service dog policy several times a year, she said.

Merrill said the Gateway location is reaching out to Westerhuis to address her issue.

Westerhuis is calling for an identification program for service animals.

“I think the solution is it’s just like an I.D., when you buy cigarettes and alcohol you pull out an I-D and say here it is,” she said.

via Fred Meyer service dog policy questioned after Pitbull run-in |


3 thoughts on “Fred Meyer service dog policy questioned after Pitbull run-in |”

  1. A service dog and the person handling the service dog in public places should meet requirements analogous to the requirements for licensing & driving a car. Driving a car is a privilege conditional upon the car being safe & insured, and the driver being safe & insured, both certified by fairly simple tests that any reasonably safe car & driver can pass. Bringing a dog into a public place involves comparable risks; others should have comparable assurance of safety.


    1. A rule of thumb, if its a Pit and the owner says Service Dog, tell them NO. The burden of proof will be on the land alligator owner. Since its 99 percent likely the owner has lied, there will not be taken any further!


  2. She should contact her social worker to see how to get in contact with the people who went to washington dc a few months ago to urge a change in the ADA laws to make them clearer and to have a certification that would be verified and thus put some clear guides as to what is and what is not a service dog. BOY! I’d love that job… I would never never never ‘service’ certify a therapy dog or any other dog. If some one lied and their dog attacked… LONG prison time.


This site posts News hits about Dangerous Dogs and Dog Laws. WE do not write these stories. WE do not comment on these stories. WE do not add to these stories. We have offered to change information (and we have done this on several occasions) if the reporting news outlet updates or changes their story. Please don't write us nasty, rude or foul mouthed messages about, pit bulls, statistics or fact checking. If you have an issue with the way a story is reported please contact the news outlet that is linked at the bottom of the post. Knowing this, if you still wish to comment, please do so.

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