An Iraq War veteran was reportedly turned away at a fast food restaurant for bringing his service dog.
Patrick Welsh brought his Australian cattle dog, named Snip, to the Wendy's restaurant near the Columbia Mall in Buckhorn, Pennsylvania, reports PAHomepage.
The Columbia County man suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and said Snip wears a vest that identifies her as a service dog.
Welsh claimed the manager demanded he provide Snip's paperwork, which he said is against the law. He then said the manager told him she did not have to serve him, and Welsh walked out.
Representatives for the Lewisburg company that owns the Buckhorn Wendy's issued an apology after the incident, and said the restaurant welcomes all veterans and service dogs.
"Our customers are very important to us, including our veterans! For that reason, we respond to our customers and their concerns as we did with Mr. Welsh. Upon hearing Mr. Welsh’s comments, my district manager reached out to him immediately and apologized for his dissatisfaction. She spoke with Mr. Welsh, and after discussing his concerns, they spoke of having a community night for Wounded Warriors. A community night is where Wendy’s will donate a portion of the sales to the non-profit organization. Mr. Welsh offered to bring in some educational material for our employees and customers regarding service animals.
"In today’s world, the possibility of our employees encountering guests with service animals is more and more likely. For example, my brother-in-law who suffered from PTSD after his return from Afghanistan still struggles today. However, we still must assure that ALL our customer’s safety is at the forefront of our decision making. It is our responsibility to assure food safety is paramount, and we believe our manager’s first thought was of the overall food safety and her intent was not malicious. All service dogs and veterans are welcome in our restaurants. We currently have veterans working for our organization, as well as the co-owner being a veteran himself."
The U.S. has roughly 21.8 million veterans, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to a study by the University of Southern California, 61 percent of post-9/11 veterans struggle to adjust to civilian life. The study also found up to 44 percent of veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It took a long, long time for my PTSD to really just causing a lot of problems," Stephen Young, a 32-year-old former Marine who participated in the invasion of Iraq, told ABC7.