CHICAGO -- A Loop restaurant has apologized to a military veteran visiting Chicago after asking him and his service dog to leave.
article by Sarah Freishtat | Chicago Tribune | Sept 13, 2015
|Major Diggs Brown with his service dog Arthur_ photo credit: Major Diggs Brown|
Maj. Diggs Brown, who said he was retired from the Army Special Forces and a former city council member in Colorado, intended to eat breakfast Saturday at Cochon Volant. He said he was told he could not be in the restaurant with Arthur Barker Black, the black Lab he said helps with post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and asked to leave.
"I have no animosity towards this restaurant," Brown said. "It's just a faIct of life that a lot of people are not aware of the ADA laws and how they pertain to service dogs or service animals."
The restaurant apologized in two Facebook posts Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Both posts received a slew of comments, some positive but most outraged.
The restaurant's general manager, Josh Schatan, said in a statement that restaurant staff had spoken with Brown, and the situation had been rectified. The restaurant also made a donation to Puppies Behind Bars, the organization that trained the almost 5-year-old Arthur.
"Yesterday's circumstance was not a true representation of our company policy and we have begun immediate internal review of protocol, training of staff and ADA regulations to ensure this will never happen again," the statement read in part.
Brown said he was in Chicago for the first time to participate in a walk hosted by the organization No Barriers, a group that works with veterans with disabilities.
He said as he was being seated for breakfast, a woman who said she was a manager, told him he could not have a dog in the restaurant.
After he explained the Americans with Disabilities Act allowed him to bring a service dog into public places and had ordered breakfast, he said he again was told his dog could not be in the restaurant. He again explained the federal law and recalled the woman responding, "I don't care."
Brown said he wasn't happy and was "a little bit humiliated" by the incident.
In a similar situation in May, the national restaurant chain Houlihan's fired a manager in Algonquin and issued an apology to a veteran who said he had post-traumatic stress disorder and was denied a seat because he was accompanied by a service dog.
Though these types of situations have happened with Arthur, they have been rare, Brown said. The Hyatt Centric hotel he stayed at that was attached to the restaurant was accommodating and treated Arthur well, he said, bringing the dog a bed, treats and water bowl.
Brown said he joined the military in 1979 and spent most of that time in the Army Reserve. He was paired with Arthur more than two years ago after service in Afghanistan in 2002. It took several years to realize something had happened, and he might need a service dog, he said.
Now, Arthur helps provide emotional support and wakes him up when he has nightmares, he said.
"He's just a real lifesaver," Brown said. "Everyone who knows this dog and has met this dog, he brings joy and happiness to them. He keeps me in a happy place, a good place."