A disabled U.S. Army veteran’s attempt to “eat fresh” at Subway was thwarted when the manager of the restaurant allegedly kicked him out because he was accompanied by a service dog.
The vet, Richard Hunter, 50, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He recently received a trained German shepherd service dog from Dogs4Warriors, a nonprofit group, to help him better cope with his condition. With Bonner, the pooch, at his side as a calming influence, Hunter planned to go out for lunch with his son and a friend for what he said was the first time in 10 years, according to WABC-TV in New York.
A manager of the Subway store in Paterson, N.J., reportedly refused to let him to enter the restaurant with the clearly designated and well-behaved service dog, however, even though the shop reportedly had a “service animals welcome” sign in the window. The manager allegedly told Hunter straight out that “the dog is not allowed in here.” The sign was apparently removed sometime before reporters showed up.
News 12 reported that the Subway eventually offered to serve Hunter but by then he no longer wanted to eat there after the hassle and left. Hunter understandably felt severely embarrassed and humiliated by the whole encounter.
The military veteran called the cops who told him they couldn’t do anything (presumably they told him it was a civil matter). Hunter didn’t get any satisfaction from the owner either, who apparently claimed on the phone that “I can refuse service to anyone I want.”
The vet said he was just looking for an apology.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, however, any establishment that does business with the public in general must allow customers with service animals onto the premises.
According to Opposing Views, “Hunter now says that he’s hesitant to go to something as simple as the corner store because he’s afraid of having an anxiety attack.”
Unfortunately, there have been similar instances around the country when proprietors blocked the entry of disabled veterans or civilians with their service dog companions. About a a year ago, after an outcry, the owner of a Massachusetts restaurant had to issue a public apology for throwing out a 20-year Air Force veteran and his Jack Russell Terrier service dog from the restaurant. Earlier this month, Starbucks got into hot water and since apologized for refusing access to a Rochester, N.Y., woman who came in with a service dog.
[image credit: Mike Mozart]