When stores denied this disabled woman’s service dog, she sued

Cheryl Krist, pictured with her husband Joseph and her service dog Bocci in Stuyvesant Town last year (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, Town & Village published an interview with Cheryl Krist, a Stuyvesant Town dog owner, who spoke about how her service pooch, Bocci, once saved her life. Krist, who walks with the aid of a cane due to a neurological condition that gives her tremors, had fallen backwards into a dip on the road after becoming started by a wild turkey. (This was in a rural road in Pennsylvania.) When Krist was unable to get back up, Bocci blocked his owner when a car came down the road, by standing up on his hind legs in front of her. Meanwhile, Krist also mentioned then as well as in prior interviews with this newspaper that she’s often had Bocci denied entry to neighborhood stores.

On Sunday, The Post published a story about two disabled New Yorkers who’ve filed lawsuits against various businesses over access issues, including Krist, who, according to the paper, has filed a total of seven.

Reached at home this week, Krist (who recently moved from Stuyvesant Town to Riverdale), declined to get into detail about specifics for the cases that are pending. One, however, she said she won last year against Gracefully. The store paid her a sum she said she isn’t allowed to discuss as well as a fine to the city. (A call to Gracefully wasn’t returned.) Another suit, against a local diner, she lost. But, according to Krist, there’s never a reason to deny her dog entry because Bocci wears a jacket that identifies him as a service dog.

“It saves a lot of questions,” she said.

She believes people who pretend their dogs are service dogs are partially to blame, though.

“It still keeps happening, because people come in with fake service dogs, so they figure we’re all lying. People come in with dogs in purses, in carriers, in strollers. Those are not service dogs. A service dog has to be free to alert you to problems. They’re not service dogs if they snap at someone and they’re not allowed to bark or growl.”

Krist got Bocci, who was rescued from a puppy mill, nine years ago and said her problems with local businesses started right away.

As to those lawsuits, “All they have to do is stop giving me a hard time,” she said. “That’s all they have to do.”

She added that she didn’t know about the Post story until after it ran. The article included a photo that had been taken of Krist on East 14th Street eight years ago when she sued a McDonald’s.

After seeing the article, Krist wanted to make it clear she doesn’t sue businesses to get money.

“I look for other options first,” she said. “I just want to be able to go places. I want to go have a hamburger without the police being called.”

Fortunately, she said the businesses in Riverdale are much more understanding. “But,” said Krist, “it’s a shame you have to leave Manhattan.”


2 thoughts on “When stores denied this disabled woman’s service dog, she sued

  1. It’s appalling that stores won’t honor her dogs’ coat. It’s almost as appalling that the American way is to sue — hope she donated the proceeds to a good cause for disabled people.

    • Sometimes suing is the only way to make some businesses do the right thing. And it’s none of your business what she does with the money.

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