LENEXA, Kan. — Ryan Foster served his country in the United States Marine Corps for four years, but after being told he would no longer be served at JB’s One Stop Convenience Store in Lenexa on 95th St. by a clerk, he knew he was in for another fight.
“Discrimination shouldn’t happen and it definitely shouldn’t happen to somebody who served the country. Not just me but anyone who has served the country,” Foster said.
Foster said he visits this gas station at least twice a week and was in on Wednesday night to buy a soda.
“I went over to cash out and once I cashed out one of the ladies behind the cash registered asked me to leave very aggressively. When I asked why, she said it was because of my dog,” he said.
Beauty, Foster’s service dog, never leaves his side and for good reason. Foster said he has suffered multiple heart attacks, a stroke, and a seizure all in the last five years.
“She can tell the chemical change in my body and alert me that something is about to happen. If it does happen, and I’m incapacitated, she will go out to and find the nearest human she can find and alert them,” Foster said.
Despite Foster explaining it was against federal law to prevent him from coming to the store, the clerk did not back down.
“She told me that I’m not blind or deaf that I don’t need a service dog,” Foster said.
Foster said he called Lenexa Police but they weren’t able to help.
“I was very insistent in ‘you are wrong about this’ the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says you can’t discriminate against anybody for any reason. [The officer] turned to me and said ‘it’s a private establishment, they can do what they want’ and he left,” Foster said.
Kevin Owens, a volunteer at Battle Buddy Service Dogs, a non-profit organization that provides veterans with service dogs, said incidents like this aren’t rare.
“It’s becoming more and more common, which is frustrating and the reason it happens is because of these people that are taking dogs that aren’t trained service dogs into these establishments,” Owens said.
Owens said businesses should do more to educate themselves on the law so people like Foster aren’t mistreated.
“Instead of the establishments just automatically saying you’re not allowed in or you don’t have access, they can ask ‘what does your dog do for you? What tasks do they perform?’” Owens said.
And it’s a tall task that Foster said he hopes to accomplish so others no longer have to fight.
“It’s all about alerting the public, alerting private businesses and letting them know that this isn’t right,” Foster said.
FOX 4 reached out to the store owner numerous times but he declined to go on camera, however, he said the incident would be investigated.