The restaurant industry is a tough one. There’s a high rate of turnover among employees, which often makes it hard to keep new staff properly trained. But train they must, otherwise we’ll have more situations like the following, where a young woman who didn’t know the law about service animals ended up humiliating a US Army veteran.
Major Diggs Brown served in the Army for 30 years, including a tour in Afghanistan. Returning home suffering from PTSD, he now relies on a service dog named Arthur to get him through his days and nights. The dog accompanies him everywhere, which the Americans with Disabilities Act (or ADA) allows with very few exceptions.
“He does a lot of things. He wakes me up from nightmares when I have them. When I have anxiety attacks, he calms me down. He saved my life and I’m even off the drugs.”
Service dogs are different from therapy animals. All service animals are dogs and are, without exception, allowed to accompany their owners into restaurants if they are suitably identified. Service dogs must go through rigorous training to ensure they know how to behave in public. (Therapy animals, on the other hand, are not.)
When the Colorado resident visited Chicago in 2015, he decided to have breakfast at a French bistro called Cochon Volant before his trip back home.
After he was seated, he was approached by the hostess who, clearly unaware of the law, told him he could not have a dog in the restaurant. Informing her it was, in fact, legal, he ordered his breakfast, but before it arrived the woman came over again and demanded that he leave.
“This is my service dog, he can go wherever I go, it’s the law,” Brown told the hostess.
“I don’t care, you need to leave, we don’t have dogs in the restaurant.”
Of course, you don’t serve 30 years in the military without learning how to choose your battles, so Brown left the restaurant with Arthur and caught his flight back to Fort Collins, Colorado.
But the incident stuck with him and he knew the best course of action was to prevent this from happening to other service dog owners, so he posted his story to Facebook (his account has since become private):
“When I got home, I posted to my Facebook page, this is what happened to me and it went viral.
Guess this would be a case of ‘No thanks for your service.’”
But Brown’s intent was to educate the public, not humiliate the young woman who clearly hadn’t been informed of her responsibility by her employers.
The restaurant owners responded.
“The Cochon Volant family is both saddened and disappointed to hear this account of a veteran’s experience.”
Yesterday’s circumstance was not a true representation of our company policy and we have begun immediate internal review of protocol, training of staff and ADA regulations to ensure this will never happen again.”
In addition to the promise to train their staff better, the restaurant made a donation to Puppies Behind Bars, where Arthur was trained.
Of course, Brown holds no hard feelings against the restaurant nor the young woman who asked him to leave.
“It’s not my intent to destroy a restaurant but it is my intent to make them aware that they have violated a law that not only affects veterans with dogs, but other people with disabilities with service laws and that they need to be aware that it’s discrimination. They’ve stepped up to the plate and they are going to make some changes at the restaurant so I’m happy in my mind that it is resolved.”
Brown said he was in Chicago to participate in a walk hosted by the organization No Barriers, a group that works with veterans with disabilities.
It sounds like he’s willing to give the city AND the restaurant another chance.
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Source: Tap Haps