When a Houston restaurant demanded that military veteran Aryeh Ohayon and his service dog leave their establishment, Ohayon turned to police for support.
When an officer arrived on the scene, however, he sided with the restaurant.
Ohayon served in the Army and Navy for more than two decades. Now, his service dog, Bandit, helps him deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
“He’s the alert if I start to have a panic attack or start to go into a flashback mode,” Oyahon said of his loyal companion.
The vet is accustomed to taking Bandit with him everywhere, which, on Tuesday, included the Thai Spice Buffett II. When the restaurant denied him service because of his dog, Ohayon called police from outside the building.
An officer arrived, and Oyahon described the situation and told him what his disabilities were.
“That’s when he said, ‘you’re not blind,’” Ohayon recounts, adding that the officer had told that him that he didn’t “see why you need the dog.”
The responding officer called the Harris County District Attorney’s office, which informed him that the restaurant, as a private establishment, had the right to refuse service.
“It feels like your service and experience that you’ve done to defend and uphold the Constitution and protect this country have been belittled,” Ohayon said of the way the situation unfolded.
According to the police department, Ohayon denied having a disability, which would indicate that he needed the dog.
The restaurant’s manager has also commented that while Ohayon was initially turned down because of his dog, the restaurant “reversed their stance” when he called the police.
Houston Police spokesman Victor Senties said that the problem needs “to be resolved between the two parties.”
As Bart Sherwood of Train a Dog, Save a Warrior told the Houston Chronicle, “It stinks that [Thai Spice] didn’t let him in. The police didn’t back him up and that stinks even more.”
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Dogs serve as companions for many vets suffering from PTSD, but many of these dog-owners have been turned down from restaurants. An Iraq War veteran who was sitting with his family was denied service in a North Carolina restaurant earlier this year, as was a Gulf War veteran who was acompanied by his dog when he was received with hostility in a Houston restaurant in February of 2014.
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