A store in Donelson has a sign posted on the front door that is catching the attention of an organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities.

The sign at Southern Thrift said no pets allowed except those assisting blind or deaf person.

It’s a sign many said isn’t all inclusive.

“There’s a better way to put it across other than this sign,” said a shopper outside the store. “This sign is demeaning to those persons who might need a service dog, other than being blind or deaf.”

The shopper said she will still support Southern Thrift, but the sign should be reworded.

“It was written out of ignorance to the needs of the community,” she said.

“They’re miscommunicating the law,” said Sheri Thorsett, who works for Empower Tennessee, an organization bettering the lives of people with disabilities.

She’s also blind and uses her guide dog Rosie every day.

“It really helps me to remain safe in my environment,” said Thorsett.

Thorsett said people with hidden disabilities like diabetes or PTSD need service dogs too.

“I would encourage them to take out the specific disabilities,” she said.

Despite the sign’s language, Southern Thrift sent News4 this statement.

“To clarify, we do allow service animals in our stores. The sign is posted clearly on the front door.

“We had a few customers complain about individuals bringing dogs in the store that were not equipped with the proper labeling or not even trained to be a service animal.”

“The ADA does not require any dog be labeled,” said Thorsett.

The retail manager for Southern Thrift said the sign is there to stay.

Empower Tennessee is sending a message to business owners about service animals.

They said if the dog is potty-trained and under the control of the handler, it’s best to leave it alone.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Desiree Wiley joined the News4 team as weekend morning anchor and reporter in April 2018.

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