Mom Asks If Her Child Can Pet Service Dog, Gets Combative

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One mother went ballistic after her two-year-old daughter was denied access to a working service dog. The mother came under intense scrutiny after a video of her raging at the dog handler was spread on social media.

Megan Stoff
Megan Stoff and her service dog, Nala (Credit: Screenshot)

Working service dog handlers despise having to refuse people access to their highly trained canines. But that’s exactly what happened to Megan Stoff, who was out with her service dog Nala at a local mall when she came across a mother and her child. The incident was documented on video.

Stoff claimed the woman in the video, who was accompanied by her two-year-old daughter, crouched down within inches of her service dog and asked, “Can my daughter pet your dog?” Stoff stated that she said “no” since petting a service dog can interfere with its training. The woman allegedly went away before approaching the dog handler again 10 minutes later, which is when the footage begins.

The mom is furious at Megan Stoff, the service dog handler of Nala. (Credit: Screenshot)

When the mother returned extremely upset, Stoff decided to start recording the situation. “That was definitely very rude how she talked to me,” the upset mom says to Stoff in the clip. “Firstly, you should have a sign [saying not to touch the dog], and secondly, she should not have said ‘no.’ She could’ve said, ‘Sorry, the dog is in training.’ That would’ve been nicer.”

Stoff tries to reason with the irate woman. She points out that Nala’s vest has the words “Please do not pet me; I’m working” written on it, along with “Do not touch” and “Do not pet.” Stoff adds that it is illegal to “harass a service dog” and that the woman “should walk away now.”  At that point, the enraged mother discovers she is being videotaped. She escalates the situation even further by threatening to contact her lawyer. “You are recording without my consent,” the mom exclaims. “It’s illegal, and I’m going to call my lawyer right now!”

The upset mother continues to blast Megan Stoff over the incident. (Credit: Screenshot)

Megan Stoff told Pittsburgh Action News that people with service dogs deal with almost daily requests from the public to pet the dogs. “They don’t know they’re not supposed to talk to them and distract them,” she said. “They think they can go, hi puppy, hi doggy, and get in their face, and that can also distract them even though we’ve trained them to hopefully ignore that.”

Stoff continued, “I guess something else I’d want the public to know is that service dogs are not just for people with physical disabilities or visible disabilities. A lot of people have service dogs for things that are not visible, such as seizures, diabetes, PTSD,” she said.

Megan Stoff
The mom becomes incensed when she realizes she is being videoed. (Credit: Screenshots)

In a written statement, the mother depicted in the video provided a much different view of the events. “My daughter, friend, and I were walking behind a group of people with dogs,” she wrote. “I asked one woman if my daughter could pet her dog. She’s responded with No in a rude manner. We accepted the answer of NO and was proceeding to Starbucks line for coffee when my friend and I heard a woman from the group tell us to F*** off (profanity).”

“My daughter was being held by me when she used profanity,” the mom added. “I left Starbucks line to discuss my concerns of her profanity and clarification. After that, the woman started recording me as shown. In a Facebook post, the owner of catydidtraining replied that it was a former employee that used profanity.”

In an interview, the mother admitted to reporters that she had no idea the canines were not meant for touching. “Dogs are on the floor, and people like me are five foot seven. Normal height,” she explained. “You can see people eye to eye, you can’t see patches on dogs that are at floor level,” she added. “These vests were not bright yellow, they were black.”

The mom also believes she’s been mistreated and judged unfairly. She claimed the backlash by netizens was so intense that she had to keep a hood over her head when she went out in public, fearful that people would recognize her from the video. “I have been totally blasted,” she said. “It isn’t okay. It was a simple thing they made so big. Nobody heard my side of the story.”