’I don’t see why you need the dog,’ cop told vet
February 27, 2014
A restaurant’s decision to refuse service to a retired military service member due to a service dog is highlighting the need to further educate Texas law enforcement on Texas law.
On Tuesday, 23-year army and navy veteran Aryeh Ohayon took his service dog Bandit with him to the Thai Spice Buffet II in West Houston where he was denied service on the grounds that animals are prohibited.
Bandit’s specialty is helping Ohayon cope with PTSD and depression. “He’s the alert if I start to have a panic attack or start to go into a flashback mode,” Ohayon told KHOU.
In Texas, private businesses had the right to refuse service to anyone, but a law passed last year by Governor Rick Perry now prohibits businesses from discriminating against “persons with disabilities.”
Ohayon’s right to freely visit “public facilities” with Bandit in tow is protected under this law.
Ohayon next phoned Houston Police to help restore his rights. However, when cops arrived they didn’t talk to the restaurant manager, but instead issued an insensitive criticism.
“I told him what my disabilities were. That’s when he said, ‘you’re not blind,’” Ohayon recalled. “[He said], ’I don’t see why you need the dog,’” Ohayon told KHOU.
Houston PD also told KHOU the restaurant had the right to refuse service because it was a “private entity,” but the restaurant actually falls under the “public facilities” designation. They also say Ohayon never declared he suffered a disability, a statement the retired service member adamantly denies.
Police cleared the complaint as a “civil matter” and left Ohayon to work the rest out with the restaurant.
“Is there not a police chief down there that knows the law of the state of Texas?” Bart Sherwood of Train a Dog, Save a Warrior, asked the Houston Chronicle. “It stinks that (Thai Spice) didn’t let him in. The police didn’t back him up and that stinks even more.”
KHOU says this is the third known case this month of a Houston restaurant refusing service to a person with disabilities, a misdemeanor violation now punishable by a $300 minimum or 30 days community service, however, no tickets have been issued.
“It’s frustrating and a let down. We put our lives on the line, we want to be treated like normal people,” Ohayon told the Chronicle, adding he felt that efforts “to defend and uphold the Constitution and protect this country have been belittled.”
Ohayon says he wants officers to undergo training for how to identify and interact with disabled persons and service pets.