A man, who can't walk on his own without his service dog right by his side, and his family have taken to the Internet to drum up awareness on the rights of service dogs and their owners.
Just recently, Dan Schroll said his service dog was asked to leave a shop at the Old Mystic Village. However, the owner said it was all a misunderstanding.
Schroll has cerebral palsy, and leans on his Great Dane, Casper, to walk, navigate steps and get back up if he falls down.
"I don't have to walk with a cane anymore," Schroll said. "I walk with my dog, and everybody sees him first, and not necessarily the disability."
Casper and Schroll have been together for about three months. Schroll said they're still working out some kinks together, and he and his family are logging it all in a blog. Casper the Friendly Dane blog is used to help educate the people around them, Schroll said.
Last week, Casper and Schroll were visiting the Old Mystic Village shops, when he said a small dog inside a store barked at Casper, and the Great Dane barked back. Both dogs were asked to leave, and Schroll said he thinks that wasn't right.
"We have a service animal, we have the right to stay," Schroll said. "You should ask the owner of the pet to leave, rather than us."
Eyewitness News went to mystical elements Friday to figure out what happened.
Store owner Sandy Rustici said the two dogs came together in a tight spot, and the employee who heard them barking was around the corner. She didn't see the service dog vest.
"A store full of people, first thought was dog fight, and so she asked both animals to leave, and only the animals," Rustici said. "Now, when she did find out the dog was indeed a service dog, she did invite him back in."
Rustici told Eyewitness News she's sorry it happened.
Schroll's girlfriend wrote about the incident on their blog, which drummed up support from across the country. But Schroll said he see's now where that employee was coming from.
"It was just an unfortunate incident, and it was a learning opportunity as well," Schroll said.
Schroll said he knows there will be more like it, and just hopes all of us can learn together, one step at a time.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.