A Port St. Lucie, FL Veteran told WPEC that he was denied service at a local restaurant because of his service dog.
Nelson Melendez, who spent eight years in the Army with multiple tours overseas, said he walked into Bobby’s Pizza with his service dog, Stormy, and the owner told them to leave.
Stormy, a greyhound, was donated to Melendez after months of service dog training.
“At that point, he said, ‘What are you gonna do? Just stand there? I told you I only allow seeing eye dogs here,'” Melendez said to WPEC. “I was mortified, standing there watching every customer staring at me while he degraded me.”
The Americans With Disabilities Act allows all trained service dogs to be allowed into a business, unless the dog is aggressive or pugnacious.
According to Melendez, Stormy has been professionally trained, has never caused problems, and is used to reduce intense anxiety and terror caused by PTSD.
Chandra Newman, co-owner of Bobby’s Pizza, says it was her husband Bobby who asked Melendez to leave.
She apologized for the incident, but did say they have experienced people trying to take advantage of the law.
“The laws are benefitting the dog owner and not the businesses,” she said. “When we have customers complaining and having dog hair in their food and saying you will buy my meal, it’s kind of a catch 22.”
Melendez said he is not upset with Bobby’s Pizza, but wants to spread the word so others do not have to go through the same experience.
Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent