A disabled veteran was thrown out of a fast food restaurant because of his service dog, even though dogs are recognized as service animals by federal law.
U.S. Army veteran Richard Hunter was ecstatic in July when he received a service dog from the non-profit group Dogs4Warriors. The 50-year-old suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the dog helps him detect anxiety before it happens. So when Hunter, his son and a coworker went out for lunch a few weeks ago at a Subway in New Jersey, it was a big deal.
“This was huge to go out with my son for the first time in over ten years,” Hunter said.
However, once Hunter entered the fast food chain the manager, later identified as Mitul Ahmed, said the dog wasn’t allowed in the restaurant.
“He said, ‘The dog is not allowed in here. Get the dog out of here,’” Hunter said of Ahmed.
Hunter noted that even though the dog was identified as a service animal, the manager forbid the dog from entering. Another manager eventually offered to serve Hunter, but the veteran left instead because he was so embarrassed.
After calling the police, who reported that they couldn’t do anything about the situation, Hunter called the restaurant’s owner.
According to Hunter, the owner stated that he could refuse service to anyone he wanted, which is when Hunter called his disability rights attorney Robert Tandy. According to Tandy, the Americans with Disabilities Act allows businesses to remove a service animal if it is behaving badly, though Hunter has denied any such behavior.
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.