Staff refuse to let wheelchair-bound teen sit in £100 seats with assistance dog

A disabled teenager says arena staff treated her ‘like she had a disease’ by refusing to let her sit with her assistance dog in the seats she had booked.

Abby Capplemen and her mother, Julie, who is also disabled, were isolated at the rear of Birmingham Arena during a Supervet show as staff left them feeling they had been ‘treated like lepers’.

The 18-year-old filmed the moment staff told her she could not sit in the booked seats for ‘health and safety reasons’ in case of ‘allergies’ and shunted her to a ‘filthy’ area.

Abby Capleman (pictured with her assistance dog) says she and her mother were treated like they had a disease and shunted to the back of the venue 

Abby Capleman (pictured with her assistance dog) says she and her mother were treated like they had a disease and shunted to the back of the venue 

Abby Capleman (pictured with her assistance dog) says she and her mother were treated like they had a disease and shunted to the back of the venue 

The Shropshire teenager has Asperger’s and relies on shih tzu Chloe to help her be more independent.

Abby blogs about difficulties she faces accessing services and told how a security guard moved her along despite Noel Fitzpatrick bringing a dog on stage.  

The show at Birmingham Arena featured Noel Fitzpatrick bringing on a dog during the event

The show at Birmingham Arena featured Noel Fitzpatrick bringing on a dog during the event

The show at Birmingham Arena featured Noel Fitzpatrick bringing on a dog during the event

She had travelled 35 miles from her home in Telford for the Welcome To My World tour even on Saturday.

And she had already checked the Arena website’s advice on bringing assistance dogs – but claims it made no mention of needing to book specific seats.

‘It said assistance dogs were welcome, with no mention of having to book special seats,’ she said.

When she was told she couldn’t sit in her booked seats, Abby cited Health and Safety Executive legislation.  

But she was then shown to a disabled area whose floor she described as ‘sticky and filthy’.

She was shunted to the section as two women were moved away from the area to ensure that Abby and her mother were totally alone. 

The blogger, her mother and Chloe the assistance dog were flanked by four security guards at the Supervet show

The blogger, her mother and Chloe the assistance dog were flanked by four security guards at the Supervet show

The blogger, her mother and Chloe the assistance dog were flanked by four security guards at the Supervet show

Four security guards flanked them, which Abby said was ‘really intimidating’. She and her mother hurried home as quickly as possible at the show’s conclusion. 

Failing to accommodate people with assistance dogs could lead to a disability discrimination claim according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The 18-year-old says she was forced to watch the show in a 'filthy' area 

The 18-year-old says she was forced to watch the show in a 'filthy' area 

The 18-year-old says she was forced to watch the show in a ‘filthy’ area 

Mother Julie said: ‘We had got the train from home to Birmingham and got a taxi to the event. I thought it would be the taxi where we got the trouble but the driver was great.

‘I never imagined in a million years we’d be banned from watching the Supervet because we had a dog with us.

‘I felt we were treated like lepers. They had put us as far back as we could get. It was like we were being singled out and isolated.

‘They were being so hypercritical, Noel and everyone was there because they were animal lovers.

‘We’d paid over £100 for the tickets six months in advance, we’d even paid insurance so we could get our money back if the show was cancelled.

‘Chloe is a trained assistance dog and she gives Abigail warnings when she’s about to have a seizure.’

A spokesperson for Arena Birmingham said: ‘We do ask customers to advise us of their requirements at the time of booking.

Chloe (pictured) is trained to give Abby warnings when she's about to have a seizure, but the teenager was placed in an isolated area in case anybody was allergic to the dog

Chloe (pictured) is trained to give Abby warnings when she's about to have a seizure, but the teenager was placed in an isolated area in case anybody was allergic to the dog

Chloe (pictured) is trained to give Abby warnings when she’s about to have a seizure, but the teenager was placed in an isolated area in case anybody was allergic to the dog

‘Assistance dogs are only allowed within certain seating areas within the arena bowl for the welfare of the dogs, other customers and to maintain safe venue evacuation routes, should they be required.

‘We understand this wasn’t properly explained on the venue’s website, and we apologise unreservedly to Ms Cappleman.

‘We have been in touch with her direct and are making adjustments to our information pages to ensure this doesn’t happen again.’ 

 

 

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