Mark Cohen, a medically-certified Person With Disability, and his trained guide dog, were denied entrance in Robinsons Mall Dumaguete last August 27,2014. The said mall took its stand and claimed that it is right to stand by ‘No Pet Allowed’ policy for the safety of their customers.
A Facebook user, Sam Du, was able to catch the incident on video and posted it on his page. He claimed that the management never approached the foreigner.
Mr Cohen is actually the Director of the International Institute of Assistance Dog Training. They help train guide dogs and raise awareness on how to train dogs. He is neither blind nor deaf, but he suffers from a condition similar with epilepsy. To mitigate his health problems, he is required to ALWAYS be with his dog at all cause. According to him, his dog is vital for his health because his condition could rapidly change in a matter of minutes.
In the said incident, the foreigner and his dog ‘Happy’, was refused entry in the said mall by the guards. While they insist on their policy of ‘No Pet Allowed’, the certified PWD showed them his papers proving that he is disabled and he needed his dog at all times. The guards closed the doors when he tried to enter. He then decided to lay with the dog at the entrance to wait for any representative from the mall management.
There was no one from the management that met him, instead, the police was called to take him to the police station for disturbing the peace in the establishment. He was released later on without charges. According to him, Republic acts 7227 and 9442 give him the right to enter the establishment with Happy (the dog name).
The mall issued their answers and said that they did not allow pets for customer safety. They even insisted that Mr. Cohen is not blind and his only purpose is to use the internet. Finally, they claimed that they gave him two choices: the use of WIFI in a cafe and an assistance from a nurse. Both had been turned down.
Though the mall did not violate any law, netizens were in uproar. According to Sam Du, he himself offered the access of WIFI and a laptop in his cafe. The Robinsons’ management did not approach neither he nor staff about this contradicting to their released statement.
With this incidence, people are now becoming aware that our law about this must be updated. PWD’s are not only those who are in a wheelchair, blind and deaf. There are a lot of people with certain disabilities that needed guide dogs.
Yes, the mall did not violate the law, but they took away a person’s right to use their service just because he has a guide dog, a dog needed for his survival. The dog is not just any pet that an owner wants to keep for a simple whim, but for health reasons. We are humans for a reason and that is the ability to think beyond rules and reason beyond reasons. The dog won’t bite and run around because it is ‘certified’ for a reason, and that it is specially trained. References: Thedailypedia, Worldfactsnews
Update: Dumaguete Robinsons Now Allowed Mark Cohen and His Dog Happy to Enter the Mall
New: Mark Cohen again Denied Entrance in Lee Super Plaza Mall Resulted to His Injury.