Our network

MARIETTA: Mom 'humiliated' after service dog incident | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

MARIETTA: Mom 'humiliated' after service dog incident

MARIETTA, Ga. -- Jennifer Schwenker said she was humiliated after a July 12 incident at a McDonald's restaurant on Bells Ferry Road in Marietta.

"I felt pretty vulnerable and kind of attacked and it was a little bit humiliating, so we just tried to leave," Schwenker told 11Alive News in an exclusive interview Monday.

That was her reaction to what happened at a McDonald's restaurant on Bells Ferry Road in Marietta on July 12th.

Schwenker was having lunch with her twin 8-year-old sons, Ben and Sam, and their autism service dog, Barkley.

Surveillance video shows an off duty manager confront Jennifer and follow her around, even into the rest room.

Schwenker said even after she explained Barkley's medical purpose, the off duty manager repeatedly insisted he had to leave.

Panicked when one of her twins suddenly vanished, Schwenker says she lost her grip on a soft drink.

"I accidentally dropped the drink just trying to get out the door frantically," she said.

As seen in the surveillance video, the drink splashed on several people, including the off duty manager, who thought it was thrown on purpose.

She chased Jennifer outside where, out of the view of cameras, she allegedly slapped her.

That manager, 25-year-old Tiffany Denise Allen, was fired and still faces misdemeanor assault and battery charges.

"Most of the time people don't understand about autism dogs and what they do," Schwenker told us Monday. She agreed to her first interview to explain how after years of struggling with her twins, her family finally got Barkley two years ago.

Part Labrador and part Blood Hound, he was specially trained at "4 Paws for Ability", of Xenia, Ohio.

He not only helps keep track of Ben and Sam, but can also help calm them.

"One will run north and the other will run south or east and west, so Barkley helps because he is trained in tethering," said Schwenker.

She also wants people to know that Barkley is just one type of canine people helper.

"Veterans that might have post traumatic stress disorder, children with autism, people with seizures and even diabetes can have service dogs," she adds.

As a result of her frightening and humiliating experience, Schwenker has created a web site called "Animals in Service for Children".

She is using it to share her family's story and to collect more from other families that may have had similar problems.


Marietta Deals