Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 18/03/2014

Houston police to disabled vet blocked from restaurant: ‘You don’t need a dog’

Canine Companions Service Dog Caspin pulls Wallis’ manual wheelchair while carrying a recent purchase.Canine Companions Service Dog Caspin pulls Wallis’ manual wheelchair while carrying a recent purchase.

Less than a year after Gov. Rick Perry’s high-profile announcement of a new law protecting people with service dogs from being refused entry into public places, Houston police and businesses seem to be unaware that anything has changed.

For the third time in as many weeks, a disabled veteran has been told he cannot go into a restaurant because he has a dog, with staff in each incident questioning vets about needing a dog without being blind.

In the most recent case, a veteran, who says he served with special forces in Afghanistan, called the Houston Police Department to back him up when staff at Thai Spice Buffet on Voss said he couldn’t come in, Tuesday.

Aryeh Ohayon said the officer didn’t talk to restaurant staff, a complaint the manager confirmed.

“The officer said to me, you’re not blind, you don’t need a dog,” said Ohayon, who needs his dog, Bandit, for post-traumatic stress disorder. “It’s frustrating and a let down. We put our lives on the line, we want to be treated like normal people.”

HPD said Wednesday that the complaint was “cleared as a civil matter.”

House Bill 489 signed by Perry in June 2013 made it a misdemeanor to refuse entry to service dogs, punishable by a minimum $300 ticket and 30 days community service. The bill came into effect Jan. 1 this year and is clearly outlined on the governor’s website.

The issue needs “to be resolved between the two parties,” said HPD spokesman Victor Senties.

The reaction has left veterans and their dog trainers outraged.

“Is there not a police chief down there that knows the law of the state of Texas?” asked Bart Sherwood of Train a Dog, Save a Warrior, which certifies service dogs for veterans. “It stinks that (Thai Spice) didn’t let him in. The police didn’t back him up and that stinks even more.”

The manager at Thai Spice, Oukey A., said staff initially refused entry to Ohayon, but eventually allowed him in and offered service while he waited for the police.

Perry spokeswoman Cynthia Meyer confirmed Wednesday the governor is a huge supporter of the bill signed in June.

“For veterans suffering from PTSD, a service animal can be a strong part of their recovery,” said Perry in a release at the time of signing. “This bill is a smart way for us to give back and help any Texan, including our veterans, lead a healthy, productive life.”

Previous cases this month included Yancy Baer and his dog Verbena being refused entry into a Memorial-area Starbucks, in a incident he descibed as the “most humilating of his life.” The coffee chain later apologized.

Don Brown and his dog Truman were also refused entry to a Channelview sports bar.

So far, none of the cases have resulted in police action being taken.

“No ticket was issued and it should have been issued,” said Sherwood of the most recent incident.

Ohayon called for an education program for law enforcement officers.

Source: Chron

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