Hi, my name is Monica and I have a service animal. Her name is Sky. We were denied entrance into a Chinese restaurant. I had been working with Sky for several months before she came to live with me. I was feeling pretty confident as a team when we went to the restaurant. I knew that she was able to sit quietly under a table and that she wouldn’t even be noticed by many of the other people in the restaurant.
We entered the restaurant with a group of my co-workers and Sky, who at this point, had been living w/ me for a week. We were still getting to know each other but she is a great service animal and has been very well trained. We all walked to the front desk to be seated and the girl told me that I couldn’t have a dog in here. I tried to explain that she wasn’t a dog, but that she was a SERVICE ANIMAL and that we had rights. There were several of my co-workers who tried to explain it to her too and several other people in the restaurant that told her that she couldn’t refuse us service. I didn’t want to make a big scene because we had only been living together for a week and I didn’t want to “upset” her. I did ask if I could speak to the manager and she went and got her manager who said the same thing – NO DOG in here and we went through the whole thing again – Sky is not just a dog – she is a service animal and under the law she couldn’t be refused service. At this point, I just wanted the floor to open and to swallow us up because there where people waiting behind us and some of the other customers who were also over telling them that they couldn’t refuse us service.
The manager then called the owner of the business and he told her that he could refuse ANYONE service and that we couldn’t have a dog there, and that we needed to be asked to leave or that he was going to call the police and have us removed from premise. At this point, I had already made my mind up that we were leaving and that I would “vote” with my pocketbook, and I haven’t been back to nor will I ever go back to that restaurant. I love that I had co-workers who wanted to stay and have the police called and explain the laws and several of the customers who were also on my side.
I was a mess for the rest of the day. I went through periods where I just wanted to cry, where I was mad that I didn’t stay and fight, that the laws for service animals are not very well known or understood by some industries because later that week I went to get my nails done and had the same experience where I was denied service because I had a “dog” and that it would be a liability to have her in his place. That she might bite one of the kids or someone in the business. I was thinking I am more worried about one of the kids that are being allowed to run wild in your place of business scaring Sky. Here again, I will vote with my pocket book. I have not nor will I ever go back to his place of business.
It makes me angry when a business doesn’t understand the laws and it is hard to explain to them that you can refuse me service if I am causing a problem, or if Sky is causing a problem, but that you can’t refuse us on the ground that I have a service animal. She is a mobility service animal and helps me walk and helps me get up if I fall, and I do fall. I love my girl.
It made me feel very self-conscious of my disability, mad, and sad, actually so many emotions all at once that it is very hard to put into words. Sky and I have now been together almost a year, and I have now been able to be really firm in the fact that YOU CAN’T REFUSE me service and have been with family and friends who have more or less pushed past everyone and walked by my side into places where we were probably not wanted, and I don’t know if I would have had the strength to do it myself but I am getting there. I want the laws for service animals to be KNOWN at every place of business, every POLICE Dept., school, or other public place where you can see us. Sky walks with me everywhere and has helped me with my confidence about being able to walk. If I fall, she picks me up and on we go together, as a team. I love my Sky and she loves me. Monica-