OGDEN — On the day America and its allies honored the veterans who fought on the beaches of Normandy in World War II, four veterans with their service dogs were refused service at an Ogden restaurant.
That’s against the law. But the owner insists: no dogs or no service.
The four veterans with their trained service dogs went to the Bombay Grill on Washington Boulevard around noon Thursday. When they walked in they were greeted by the owner.
“We were immediately asked to leave as soon as we started walking inside,” said James Mann.
Mann is a U.S. Army veteran who served a total of eleven years, including a deployment to Afghanistan. He was medically retired in 2013.
The restaurant owner told them dogs are not allowed because a dog had attacked a customer in his restaurant years ago.
He told KSL-TV the same thing off-camera several hours later. Mann said the veterans saw it as a teaching opportunity, a chance to educate the business owner on the laws regarding service dogs.
“These are service dogs,” Mann told the owner. “And under the law, they are actually allowed to stay with us.”
The handlers and their service dogs are protected from discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). They are protected under state and federal law.
When Mann was refused service, he started taking video on his phone. In it the owner can be seen and heard offering to seat the veterans and their service dogs outside. But, the ADA also protects them from segregation.
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“He stated that he didn’t care and that it was his prerogative,” said Mann. “He was going to kick us out and didn’t want us there.”
Mann’s service dog, Potter, is trained to help him with post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety. The dog was extensively trained by Mann who founded his own organization, 4 Paws 4 Patriots, to train service dogs for veterans and first responders.
“I can’t think of a place that I don’t take my dog, to be honest with you,” said Mann.
Throughout the 25-minute video recording, everyone remained civil. No one made any threats or swore.
“We kept trying to educate him that there are laws that say that you cannot kick us out or segregate us just because of our service dogs,” Mann said.
But the dispute was not resolved. The owner said he would rather shut down than serve them, which he did. He closed the restaurant and the veterans left, although the restaurant reopened later in the day.
“I’ve never been kicked out of any establishment, whether service dog or not,” said Mann. “It’s embarrassing to have someone tell you that you’re not welcome in their business.”
The owner said in an off-camera interview that he will not change his stance regardless of the law. The veterans don’t think he should be punished, and they don’t want to harm his business.
Ultimately, they want him to be educated on the laws of service dogs so other patrons don’t have the same problem.