Service dogs greatly improve the lives of the humans they assist. But sadly, there will always be some people who don’t understand service dog laws. While official service dogs can go anywhere that their humans can, there have been a lot of reports of businesses turning these life-saving canines away. A situation at a North Carolina restaurant only added to this growing list.
A woman tried to bring her service dog in, but was denied for not showing paperwork. By law, documentation is not necessary to allow a service dog inside, and more companies need to understand this.
Customer Turned Away
Jami Benton visited the Genghis Grill in Matthew, North Carolina with her family. Of course, her service dog named Knox was by her side as usual. Knox appears to be some kind of Mastiff, and he wears a service dog patch on his collar.
Benton suffered from a traumatic experience when she was younger, which gave her anxiety and PTSD. Knox is trained to keep her calm by putting pressure on her through “deep tissue therapy.” So, even though Benton doesn’t look like she needs a service dog, not all disabilities are visible. Still, the restaurant staff denied Benton service without a second thought.
“He walked up to the hostess stand and said, ‘Sorry we can’t allow him in here’ and I said, ‘He’s a service dog,'” Benton recalled. “Very rude. I felt not even welcomed. Even if I had documentation, I don’t think he’d let me in any way.”
Benton said she showed them the patch on Knox’s collar, but they still demanded documentation. So, Benton and her family were forced to leave without any food. It was the first time she had experienced something like that, and she wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Service Dog Laws
When news reporters reached out to the restaurant’s corporate, they explained that it was all a misunderstanding. The representative said that the dog didn’t have a visible service vest, which isn’t required by North Carolina laws. So, corporate insisted that they would train their staff better when it comes to proper procedures.
“There’s no actual requirement, test, or documentation you have to carry for a service animal,” said service dog trainer Tess Hickey. “So it’s very difficult to know what to ask or what to do.”
Every state has different service dog laws, but in North Carolina, service dogs don’t need a vest or paperwork to enter a business. Individuals are only allowed to ask two questions: “Is this a service animal?” and “What task do they perform?”
Sadly, fake service animals have made people wary of real service dogs, which is how situations like this occur. If your dog isn’t trained to do a specific task, please leave them home to avoid hurting real service dogs. Also, if you work at any type of business, familiarize yourself with the service dog laws. No one should have to feel unwelcome because of their loyal service dog.