The owner of a restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has apologized after he denied entry to a Marine veteran and his service dog Thursday evening.
Wounded Iraq war veteran Kris Jones said he does not go anywhere without his service dog, Chopper, according to WTAE Action News.
“He makes me feel safe. A lot of veterans, you don’t want to be alone, when you’re going into a public place or a restaurant, it can be pretty stressful,” Jones said of his Dutch Shepherd.
“He’s very important to me, he’s definitely my lifeline,” he added.
However, when Jones and Chopper walked into The Huddle restaurant in Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood to watch a football game, owner Pete Wagner told him the dog was not allowed inside.
“I tried to show him my disabled military ID from the Marines and Chopper’s identification and what not and he put his hands up and did not even want to look at it,” the veteran told CBS Pittsburgh.
Jones admitted that Chopper was not wearing his official vest, but he was wearing his service dog collar.
Now, Wagner said he regrets not allowing Jones and his dog to stay. “I made a mistake as to the evaluation as to whether he was with a service dog,” he said, adding “I just made a mistake. That’s all there is to it. I should have served him and I did not.”
The owner said his business normally accommodates service dogs but said the restaurant was so busy that night, he failed to connect the dots.
“I’m embarrassed today that I didn’t serve the fella,” Wagner concluded.
Jones, who joined the Marines after 9/11, was wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his jeep during a tour in Iraq in 2003.
“I was knocked unconscious for several minutes. I just remember seeing a lot of sand and heard a really loud noise,” he recalled.
Jones suffers from PTSD, back, shoulder, and head injuries and wants the public to realize that PTSD is a serious issue for lots of people.
“I want business owners, people, everywhere, children, everywhere to know that PTSD is a big thing, and a lot of veterans come home and people can look OK and look fine, but you don’t know what’s going on on the inside,” he concluded.
Wagner invited the veteran and Chopper to come back to the restaurant for a free dinner, but Jones said he will not be going there again.