Veteran and Service Dog Allegedly Kicked Out of Restaurant on Veterans Daythe daily dish
A disabled Army veteran in Burlington, N.J., says he suffered a "public humiliation" earlier this week, claiming that he was told he could not have his service dog with him in a pizza restaurant. Jeff Hall, 38, visited Rino's Pizzeria with his father for lunch on Veterans Day, but says the restaurant's owner, Salvatore "Rino" Massa, concerned over health standards, told Hall his dog was not allowed inside.
"I said, 'He's a service dog. It's no different than someone being in here with a wheelchair,'" Hall told WTXF-TV.
Hall suffers from physical disabilities as well as post traumatic stress disorder developed from serving in Bosnia in 1997. His dog, a 4-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever named Cooper, is a qualified service animal whom Hall needs to manage his PTSD. The Americans With Disabilities Act says that Cooper is therefore allowed to accompany Hall anywhere the public is allowed to go. Refusing a service animal such access is a federal offense.
Hall and his father complied with Massa's alleged request to leave, but Hall says the stares and attention directed at them during the scene were embarrassing and humiliating.
Massa, however, says he did not actually ask Hall to leave the restaurant. "I never at (any) point said, 'You have to get out of here,'" Massa told the Burlington Times. He said he had never had a service dog in his restaurant before, and wanted to contact his lawyer to learn what was and wasn't allowed.
"I told him to finish his food, and I'll make a couple of phone calls," said Massa, who then called his attorney. "Before I knew it, they left."
The incident has earned Rino's Pizzeria some negative publicity, with the restaurant's Facebook page being bombarded with comments from an angry public. Massa claims he has also received phone calls and death threats over the incident.
Hall says he is still considering legal action against Rino's.
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