Killeen Daily Herald
Clay Thorp | Herald staff writer
February 8, 2016
When Kimberly Pearson retired from the Army in 2012 after serving in Iraq as a combat medic, she said she made the decision to enlist the help of a large breed of service dog to help her with balance and pain in her legs after suffering injuries in a 2004 ambush.
“Basically, there was an ambush and lots of explosions,” Pearson said. “My feet and legs received injuries that needed six surgeries so far. And they’re not quite done with the surgeries, so I still have a lot of issues with pain and imbalance. It was just a mess. I was the medic. Instead of running away, I ran in and I kind of paid for it.”Eric J. Shelton | HeraldDogKimberly Pearson gives her service dog Zakhar, a Caucasian Ovcharka, a kiss Monday at Mickey's Dog Park on W.S. Young Drive in Killeen. Pearson was denied entry into Palm Harbor because of her service dog.
Soon after, Pearson special ordered her new Russian Bear dog from Romania, as she said breeders there are known for raising mild-mannered giants.
But on Monday, Pearson said she and her service dog, Zakhar — who weighs 150 pounds — were denied access to Palm Harbor Homes, a local home store where Pearson wanted to look at model homes.
“It’s a very large dog because I use him for balance,” Pearson said of her 1-year-old dog.
“So, he’s large and he scares people, even though he’s a teddy bear. People just look at him and he scares them.”
Pearson said the employees at Palm Harbor simply wouldn’t allow them inside any model homes.
A similar incident in July occurred at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Harker Heights.
Dave Alvarado, 39, went to the retail store to buy a few items July 10, right after he finished a counseling session for his PTSD, which he said he developed during two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
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