1. The manager of a Nashua, N.H.-based T.J. Maxx ordered a service dog with its owner to leave the store or be put in a carriage.
2. Sydney, along with her mother Celeste, was injured during the April 2013 bombing.
3. Celeste lost both her legs in the attack, while Sydney suffered shrapnel wounds.
4. Celeste and Sydney have become inspirations, over the course of their ongoing recovery since the attack.
Above, Sydney and Celeste, along with Celeste’s sister, Carmen Acabbo, reach the finish line during the Boston Marathon in April 2014, just one year after the attack.
5. As a result of the attack, Sydney is now battling post-traumatic stress disorder and said her service dog, Koda, has been crucial to her recovery.
“It’s knowing that I have this little support system that’s all my own. He’s my little cheerleader,” she told NewsCenter 5. “Honestly, I sleep better now. I used to have a really hard time trying to sleep because my mind would always just be going in overdrive.”
6. Even though Koda was clearly identified as a service dog, the T.J. Maxx store manager said to Sydney, “If you want to keep your dog in the store, you have to put him in the carriage.”
Sydney said she informed the manager that Koda is a service dog and that he wouldn’t be able to fit comfortably in the carriage. She was informed that if she didn’t put the dog in the carriage, then she would be required to leave.
She left the store and called her mom, who quickly arrived at T.J. Maxx to inform the manager of her daughter’s legal rights.
7. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, all businesses must allow service animals in public areas.
It is only legal to ask the owner if the dog is, indeed, a service dog, and what tasks it performs.
8. Celeste told NewsCenter 5 that the manager apologized, but that the damage was already done.
“You just made someone with an emotional disorder so much worse,” Celeste said of the manager.
9. T.J. Maxx released a statement that also apologized for the incident and said the company would take steps to ensure employees better understand the law regarding service animals.
“We are taking actions which we believe are appropriate, including working with our stores to reinforce the acceptance of service animals,” the statement said.
10. The Corcorans wrote in a Facebook post that they hoped the “humiliating experience” would help educate “ignorant people” about service dogs and their owners.
“There are so many people with invisible, silent injuries — and the public needs to be aware that their service animals are sometimes their lifeline,” Celeste said to NewsCenter 5.