A Houston, Texas, police officer allegedly kicked a US Army and Navy veteran out of a local restaurant for bringing in a service dog on the grounds that he wasn’t actually blind.
According to local news outlet KHOU, Aryeh Ohayon served in the US military for 23 years. Ohayon said his service dog, named “Bandit,” helps him deal with the lingering effects of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially if he begins to suffer from panic attack or a flashback linked to his prior experiences.
The incident began when Ohayon entered a Thai restaurant for dinner and was denied service by the manager. The veteran called police to clear up the situation, but he said the responding officer only denigrated his condition.
“I told him what my disabilities were,” Ohayon told KHOU. “That’s when he said, you’re not blind. [He said] I don’t see why you need the dog.”
“It feels like your service and experience that you’ve done to defend and uphold the Constitution and protect this country have been belittled,” he added.
According to the officer who responded to the call, he believed the restaurant owner had the right to deny a customer since it was a private establishment. Last year, however, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation that made it illegal to refuse service to individuals with service dogs.
Houston police stated Ohayon denied having any sort of disability, a claim the military veteran said is simply not true. The restaurant manager, meanwhile, said she thinks the whole situation was a misunderstanding.
Still, this isn’t the first time military veterans have been hassled over their service dogs. In August, a disabled Army veteran was kicked off a New Jersey boardwalk because an officer disapproved of his service dog – this despite the fact that the veteran showed his dog’s service identification card.
During the summer, another disabled veteran claimed he was abused by staff at United Airlines who kicked his service dog twice during a three-day layover in Virginia. As RT reported, the man said an airline employee also called him “retarded” after he explained his traumatic brain injury rendered him unable to read.