When you head out for a casual meal at a restaurant, the last thing you're expecting is to be asked to leave. Especially if you're disabled and a wounded veteran! But that's exactly what happened to Patty Horan and her husband, Pat, at the Village Cafe in Centreville, Virginia recently. The couple had walked in with their dog, Wilson, and the owner's wife immediately turned them away. The thing is ... it wasn't like they were trying to get away with bringing their "regular pet" into the eatery.
Pat is an Iraq war vet who was shot in the head while on duty in Baghdad in 2007. As a result of seizures, vision impairment, and instability, he has Wilson as a trained service dog. Patty Horan explained to WUSA9.com, "I tried to explain to [the owner's wife] that this isn't just a regular pet, this is a service dog. My husband is disabled. She really didn't want to listen to any of it. She just wanted us to leave the restaurant."
The Horans were given the option to order and sit outside and eat, but there were no tables or chairs set up, so they ended up having to leave. So, so wrong!
A service dog is definitely not the same thing as a regular pet, and public places like restaurants need to understand that and treat their customers with service pets accordingly. And really, it's not like a service dog would pose a threat to food safety or other diners. Sure, I could see how a restaurant owner may be nervous if their establishment is very small, but still ...
It seems like, in this case, the owner's wife didn't completely understand that Wilson is a trained service dog. Upon learning what had happened, the owner, Mo Amnifar, explained his wife doesn't speak English very well, and he was visibly upset by the incident. He also extended a personal apology to the Iraq vet. He even said he plans to donate money to the veterans' charity Horan got Wilson from. Well, thank goodness for that! I also hope the Horans get a sandwich on the house next time they stop in!
What do you make of this situation?