Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Garden's reply

Here’s the response from the Chicago Botanic Garden to my February 1 blogpost, below this one. Those new to this blog might want to read that first.

"Mr. Kisor,

"Thank you for your recent visit to the Garden.  We thank you for your candor in your blog posting about your recent experience. We apologize for what occurred and the outcome that lead to you and Trooper wearing the green stickers. As you can imagine, many people do try to bring their pets into the Garden which is not allowed. Clearly this does not apply to service animals. Not all service animals wear identifiers and this can sometime lead to some visitors being questioned during their visit by our staff. In order to avoid this, we offer only as a suggestion that the animal /handler/owner wear our identifier so that staff throughout the Garden are aware that this is a service animal and thus allowed to be on Garden grounds. It is not a requirement, and we are sorry if you were informed so. Our staff member was most likely reacting out of concern that you have a peaceful visit and NOT be approached by Security. 

"Since we strive to enhance the visitor experience to all visiting, we will be working closely with our front line staff to reiterate the protocol for guests with service animals and other components of the ADA law, and improve communication throughout the Garden grounds. Thank you for eloquently bringing this to our attention, and we hope you have a more pleasant experience on your next visit.

""We would like to extend you, Debby and Trooper the opportunity to return to the Garden to see our upcoming Orchid Show, which runs February 13 – March 13. If you would like to private message us with your address, we would be more than happy to send passes out to you.

Again, we are glad that this break in the bitter cold, allowed you all to come and visit the Garden in its winter splendor.

"Thank you."

MY REACTION: It's a decent and well-crafted if slightly patronizing corporate apology, albeit heavy with floral marketing-department sentiments, and it arrived quickly, the same day I made the original post.

I'll accept it while still pointing out that the apology does not really address my argument about the futility of the Garden's attempt to finesse ADA requirements. I still believe that it's the obligation of the Garden to honor the letter of the law for visitors with disabilities, not to provide handy "identifiers" for its staff. Service dog handlers are quite used to dealing with challenges from Jacks-in-office.

As for the proffered freebie, thanks but no thanks.

(Full disclosure: I'm taking the Garden's special Orchid Show photography class and have already paid for it. I shouldn't be so arch, but my hackles are still up. Yes, Trooper is attending with me. Debby will hold the leash while I press the shutter.)

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