Now Dick’s Bakery is apologizing to the Baldwin Wallace University sophomore for what it calls a unfortunate misunderstanding.
Gabriella Drago entered the downtown Berea bakery with her service dog, a black lab named Freesia.
“She is my eyes,” says Drago. “She just makes everything so much easier and faster.”
As Drago and her friends tried to buy donuts, an employee at the shop immediately told her to take the service dog outside.
“I know that it’s happened to other people, but it’s never happened to me, so it was just kind of a shocking situation,” says Drago.
The social media backlash against the bakery was almost immediate.
Today, the owners of Dick’s Bakery have quickly and openly apologized and are trying hard to make things right.
“We’re truly sorry for making her feel unwanted. We want her to give us a second chance to make it right,” says Rick Baker, a second-generation owner of the family business. “Come in an we’ll load her up once a week with some goodies, so she can enjoy herself with her and her friends.”
Baker says the employee, who has been with them for 50 years, simply didn’t know Drago was blind.
“She’s got a genuinely good heart. Yesterday was just an unfortunate incident,” says Baker. “She’s broken up.”
Experienced service animal trainer Wendy Crann says it is simply a matter of education.
“We can’t let ourselves get to that place of ‘string em up!’ – when this is an opportunity for people to learn a better way,” says Crann.
According to her, there are only two questions that it are appropriate and legal for business owners to ask when faced with giving service animals access to their business.
“The first is, ‘Is this your service animal?'” says Crann. “The can also ask, ‘What tasks is the dog trained to perform?'”
Asking anything beyond that is a violation of civil rights.
While Drago appreciates those who have stood up for her, she accepts the Bakers’ apology.
“I really like there food, and my intention is not for people not to go there anymore,” says Drago, who says she wants to go back for the bakery’s donuts.
She says it’s a teachable moment, and it’s one that the owners of Dick’s Bakery are taking to heart.
“We value our customers and yesterday, we fell short of that,” says Baker. “And for that, the Dick’s Bakery family is truly sorry.”