For former Marine and Gulf War Veteran Don Brown, a dog is much more than just a pet.
Brown, of Spring, Texas, was given medical discharge from the Marines after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Brown says he has “developed a lot of social anxieties,” which have kept him out of work for the past 24 months.
About eight months ago, he got a service dog named Truman.
Brown has said that the Doberman helps him “cope with everyday life.” One of the many ways in which the dog helps his owner is by waking Brown up from his nightmares.
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“For a long time,” Brown says, “I avoided going out in public. I was kind of a shut-in. And he’s allowed me to get back out and start enjoying life.”
However, when Brown, accompanied by Truman, met up with a friend at the River Side Inn Marina in Channelview, Texas on Wednesday, a waitress stopped Brown and told him the dog could not be there.
When Brown explained that Truman was a service dog, the waitress went to check with her manager.
At this point, Brown explains, a man came out from across the room and asked Brown if he was blind. The manager “called out very loudly” to Brown, asking, “Can you see?”
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The manager didn’t believe that Truman was a certified service dog, and the veteran was ordered to leave because of a so-called “attitude problem.”
“I was embarrassed, I was angry,” Brown told news reporters after the incident.
Both state and federal law forbid businesses to ask about a person’s disability, or to deny service to someone with a service animal, unless the animal is causing a disturbance or threat.
The restaurant has refused to comment on the incident.
Brown, on the other hand, has shared his story with a local TV channel, expressing that he “wanted the whole world to know how he was treated.” He has also indicated that he does not intend to ever return to the restaurant.
“My whole reason for even talking to the news was that somebody else didn’t have to go through this,” Brown said.
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