A Colorado soldier who served over 30 years in the U.S. Army and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Afghanistan was asked to leave a Chicago restaurant after bringing his service dog to his table.
Maj. Diggs Brown’s service dog, Arthur, has been by his side for 2½ years. But while visiting Chicago for the weekend, he tried to sit down for breakfast at Cochon Volant with Arthur and was met with a shocking response.
“When my service dog and I walked in, the hostess took us to the table, and the young lady named Hannah, she said ‘you can’t have a dog in the restaurant,’” Maj. Brown told CBS’s Chicago affiliate. “I kept my cool and I said, you know, ‘it’s the American Disabilities Act. This is my service dog, he can go wherever I go, it’s the law.’ So I was seated, placed my order then Hannah came over again and said I have to leave. I said ‘it’s my service dog,’ and she said ‘I don’t care, you need to leave, we don’t have dogs in the restaurant. I could go to the Department of Justice if we continue down this path.’”
He said it was the first time he had been denied service because of the dog, which he credits for saving his life.
“He does a lot of things. He wakes me up from nightmares when I have them. When I have anxiety attacks, he calms me down. He has saved my life and I’m even off the drugs,” Maj. Brown told CBS.
Maj. Brown returned home to Fort Collins, Colorado, and posted to a Facebook account he made for his Arthur that he and his service dog of two-and-a-half years had been “kicked to the curb.”
The post went viral, prompting the manager of the manager of the restaurant to email and call Maj. Brown personally to apologize, he told CBS.
The restaurant followed with its own post to Facebook, apologizing for the “unfortunate situation” and saying it was “not a true representation of our company policy.” The restaurant claimed to be conducting an internal review and said it would make donations to Puppies Behind Bars and Colorado Disabled Veterans.
Maj. Brown credited the restaurant for its response and said he holds no grudge toward them.
“It’s not my intent to destroy a restaurant but it is my intent to make them aware that they have violated a law that not only affects veterans with dogs, but other people with disabilities with service laws and that they need to be aware of the discrimination,” he told CBS.
“They’ve stepped up to the plate and they are going to make some changes at the restaurant so I’m happy in my mind that it is resolved,” Brown added.
As for Hannah, the restaurant worker who refused to serve him, Brown said he hopes that she would not be fired for not understanding the law.
“She just needed to be educated. That’s the restaurant’s discretion,” Brown said.