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Laws in this country are made to protect the weaker and minorities, to help ensure they receive an opportunity to contribute to society.  In 1990 the Americas with Disability Act (ADA) was past to protect the disabled from discrimination. In 2013 Texas went a step further, with Bootz Law, that expanded the ADA protection to veterans with service dogs.

I spent twelve years in the United States Army and medically discharged in 2015. Part of what keeps me going is my service dog, Hannibal.  He is professionally trained, and the one thing I can say for sure, he has saved my life.

Business owners that decide to discriminate against service dogs are fined up to 500 dollars under the lawOn September 20, 2017, Mr. Lou the owner of Yamato Japanese Restaurant, in Galveston, refused to serve my group because of Hannibal (my service dog).

That Wednesday afternoon at Yamato’s an Army buddy of mine was in town with Texas Veteran’s Commission. When he told me that he was coming to Galveston, I was excited to go out and try some of the local seafood.  I moved to Galveston in January, but due to PTSD, I haven’t been active in the community.

After walking into he Yamato Restaurant, signs began to appear that something was wrong.  The hostess started speaking in her native tongue, and the owner came around the grill.  He said that he was refusing service because of health laws and other customers who have allergies.  I explained to him that this isn’t a pet, but a service dog, and he confirmed that he knew the laws, but that he was still refusing service.  My friend and I walked out, and it should have ended there.  Then things turned ugly.

 

A customer shouted, “What’s he for?”  I responded that he was a service dog and he provides many necessary medical services.  “You look fine, what’s wrong with you.”  The whole while Mr. Lou standing behind his counter laughing and saying something so low I could not hear. No business can demand to know what your disability is, or ask you to provide paperwork to prove your assertion. Several cuss words and puts downs were than slung at me, and my mind failed me.  t was almost like I was standing outside my body watching this happen to someone else. I went home and filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and then reviewed the company on Yelp, but I was stopped in my tracks when I went through past reviews.

 

Not only does Mr. Lou know the ADA laws, but he had refused service before, and apparently no one has stopped him.  He has done this twice before in 2016 and 2014, and both reviews are hidden by Yelp.  I am not one to look for a fight, and if I had seen those hidden reviews, we would never have gone.  It also tells me that he doesn’t plan on stopping his activity and the laws of this country don’t matter.

Yelp might hide the discriminating secret, but I am hoping by printing my experience, then Mr. Lou will stop this behavior.  Or at the bare minimum not humiliate and berate paying customers.

 

 

Cari Jo

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