By Jos Weale
A humiliated great-grandad claims he soiled himself in the middle of a Pets at Home store after staff refused to let him use the toilet.
Royal Navy veteran Brendon Heywood, 71, claims his urgent need to go was ‘flippantly’ dismissed when he begged to use staff facilities at the pet shop in Bridgend, Wales.
The ’embarrassed’ pensioner and grandad-of-five has suffered with prostate and stomach problems since a heart operation last year and had taken Westie Georgia to the store’s dog groomers last Wednesday (March 15) when he was suddenly caught short.
The Bridgend great grandad-of-one claims after soiling himself in the store he was forced to cross a busy road to use a fast food restaurant toilet – adding to his humiliation.
Brendon, who served in the Royal Navy for 20 years before working in finance, said: “I was in Pets at Home and I was struck by the overwhelming sensation to go to the loo.
“Without going into it too much, you really don’t want to get between me and the toilet when I need to go.
“I asked the girl and she said no and said the toilet wasn’t for public use. I was filling in forms and said I would have to leave and leave the dog because I had to go.
“She just kind of looked at me when I said I needed to go. I asked some shelf stackers and they told me I would have to go over the road to use the toilet at McDonalds.
“I didn’t make it. It was embarrassing. It was 1pm in the afternoon, there were other people there in the store.
“I have encountered being told no in other places before.
“But that’s still no excuse to refuse when someone needs the toilet. Anybody could see I was in need of the toilet. It’s only the use of the toilet, I don’t want to have a party in there.”
Brendon said after soiling himself he was forced to undertake a dangerous and uncomfortable walk across a busy dual carriageway to clean himself in a McDonalds toilet.
The pensioner, who was a long-standing customer at the Bridgend store, said he is now too embarrassed to go there again following his ordeal.
The dad-of-two, who has two daughters with wife Irene, 69, said: “My wife picked me up and took me home to have a shower. I was incensed.
“They had a flippant attitude. I came away from it with a nasty taste in my mouth. To me it was such a big thing but to them it was such a small thing.
“My wife had to go back to the store later in the day to pick up the dog and spoke to another member of staff and told her what happened.
“She asked her why I didn’t ask to use the toilet, and she told them I did ask and was told I couldn’t.”
“I’ll never use Pets at Home again. It’s a pity because we have been going there a long time and we know some of them there.”
Brendon’s daughter Anna Thorington, 40, said she was furious when she later heard of her upset father’s experience.
The mum-of-three said after she contacted Pets at Home to complain she received an apologetic phone call from one of the company directors, who told her the store has no official policy banning members of the public from using staff toilets in-store.
And she said she is proud of her dad for speaking out about a ‘taboo’ subject that affects thousands of people every day.
Anna, who visits her father every day, said: “I’m very angry and upset because he is a lovely man and gives a lot all the time.
“He’s not a well 71. He suffers all the time with health issues and gets caught short quite a bit.
“He expressed the urgency but they just weren’t bothered. It was like it was too much effort for them.
“He had to walk across a busy road to try and clean himself. I asked for the CEO to call me to give an apology, but I was told that couldn’t happen.
“These companies think about insurance and things, but at some point compassion for another human being has to come first.
“They should base things on the situation they are in. It is just a toilet, and it wouldn’t have hurt them.
“They need to use common sense. He wasn’t looking to do damage, he wanted to use the facilities.
“We have been loyal customers there for years – my mum and dad have been going there for at least 10 years. We won’t be going there again.
“This is a problem that thousands of people suffer with and just do not talk about, someone needs to speak out about what can happen.”
A Pets at Home spokesman said: “We are extremely sorry to hear about this customer’s experience and would like to offer our sincere apologies for the discomfort and embarrassment he was caused.
“One of our directors has contacted the customer to apologise personally and we will take immediate steps to remind our colleagues of the importance of dealing sympathetically with such requests.”
Pets at Home declined to comment further on what their company policy on members of the public using staff toilets is.