Veteran and Service Dog Allegedly Kicked Out of Restaurant on Veterans Day

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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.

Veteran And Service Dog Allegedly Kicked Out Of Restaurant On Veterans Day

"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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To: willagayedachs:

Can you please inform me what "specific tasks" a Service Dog must learn in order to be such? As defined by the Dept of Justice (see the following link for the full document, as well as for more information:,
a Service Dog is defined as...

..."that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability."

Also, "Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."

Oh, and please, can you tell me who, or what agency, "certifies" Service Dogs?

(Answer: There is no Service Dog "registry", or any single organization that "certifies" a dog as being a Service Dog. That's because it's not required by the US Federal government. It's also not required that any particular person, or agency, train a Service Dog, but only that a dog be, as defined by the Dept of Justice [see my quote, above], " ...individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability."

The document that I've quoted, above ("Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animals"), and have also linked to, is a very good place for people to begin educating themselves concerning Service Dogs and the laws about them and their use.

For more information about the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and Service Dogs and the rules and regulations governing them, please!--

See the ADA Website, at:, or call the ADA Information Line, 800-514-0301 (Voice), and 800-514-0383 (TTY)--24 hours a day to order publications by mail, or M-W, F 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Th 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time),
to speak with an ADA Specialist. All calls are confidential.

Washington state, USA

November 19 2013 at 4:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To: teresa77jc:

Mr Massa had the "rite" to ask the Service Dog user only TWO questions:

1) "Is that dog a Service Dog, required because of a disability you have?"; and,
2) "What work or task has the dog been trained to do to assist you?".

That's ALL, that is IT. Otherwise, Mr Hall should have been treated the same as any other customer. Neither the person with a disability, nor the Service Dog, is required to have any special identification; special collar, harness, or vest; or any other paper or object to "prove" that the animal is, indeed, a Service Dog. It is also no one's business as to Mr Hall's condition, or how or when he acquired it.

Service Dogs and their handlers are protected in the USA by the Americans With Disabilities Act, which is a law created and enforced by the Dept of Justice, and so supersedes all other laws (including state laws.) A person may not be asked, or required, to remove their Service Dog from an establishment that serves the general public; indeed, the person with a disability and their assistance dog may go anywhere in a place of business (or public transportation conveyance, such as an airplane, train, bus, ferry, or taxicab), or anywhere other members of the public are allowed. Furthermore, they may not be segregated from other patrons, or otherwise: isolated; treated in a less favorable manner than other customers; or charged fees not charged to the general public--such as a "pet deposit"--for being accompanied by their Service Dog.

Denial of access for a person with a disability accompanied by a Service Dog is NOT allowed, regardless as to whether the establishment disallows pets (Service Dogs are NOT pets), or they sell and/or prepare food. Even if the establishment is in a jurisdiction that is covered under a law, such as by a Dept of Health, that prohibits animals in an place of business, Federal laws/regulations supersede local, county, or state laws. Fear of animals/dogs; and/or having allergies to: animals; to dogs; or to their dander; also is not a valid reason for denial of access.

I have no intention of addressing the reason that Mr Hall uses a Service Dog, but I ~will~ point out that the reason is immaterial: it doesn't matter how or where Mr Hall received the illness or injury that makes a Service Dog an asset to him, nor does it matter whether he was serving in the military at that time, or not. If Mr Hall is a person with a disability, regardless of how such disability was acquired, he has the right of access to public places with his Service Dog.

I will also state that lack of knowledge of a law does not excuse Mr Massa's behavior. The American's with Disabilities Act--which covers Service Dogs, persons who may legally use one, and public access thereof--has been in effect since 1990! To have no knowledge of a 23-year-old Federal law that covers a large segment of the population is, in my opinion, inexcusable.

Washington state, USA

November 19 2013 at 3:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Big Chief

We live in the local area and know people who are familiar with the weapons discharge incident.

November 16 2013 at 6:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If mr hall was really humiliated and was asked to leave, why did he wait for his pizza to be ready and then leave? If that was me I would left rite away if I was humiliated! Rino didn't do nothing wrong , he has to rite to ask questions. When he wasn't sure he did the rite thing calling his lawyer, when he got off the phone hall had left already, he never gave rino a chance. The worse part of this is that hall shot off his on leg while cleaning it in new jeresy, he didn't lose it in a war, get your facts straight people! Rinos pizzeria has been there for many years, it's family owned with great food. We go there often and stand by rino. And for the people who said he should have known the law about service dogs , he wasn't sure that's why he called his lawyer, and not everyone knows all the laws! He has never had to deal with dogs he deals with food. Also the death threats, calling him names, wanting to boycott his business, and some of you said shut him down you are so wrong. Rino has been there for anybody and everybody, giving out free food to those who have needed help. Hall and rino should just shake hands and get on with their lives.

November 16 2013 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Snuffy

Big Chief,

While I can believe that is true, how do you know this?

November 16 2013 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Snuffy

Big Chef,

He did not lose his leg to military action. He discharged a shotgun while cleaning it in his home in NJ and shot himself.

November 16 2013 at 1:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Big Chief

This individual is being presented as a Disabled American Veteran. He did not lose his leg to military action. He discharged a shotgun while cleaning it in his home in NJ and shot himself. He is misleading everyone and drawing sympathy by not clarifying his disability.

November 16 2013 at 10:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Joe Snuffy

As an Army veteran myself, having served in Iraq, I disagree with this guys action. The owner asked you to leave, you explained to him that its a service dog and he backed off his position. You chose to leave and call the news but, site public humiliation?? To be honest, your tattoos are more embarrassing than this story. I'm sorry to hear about your injuries but, from military one brother to another, this is an attention grab and you know it.

November 16 2013 at 1:35 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Should not have felt humuliated. Should have left the dog at home he was not needed .The elderly man had his son with him.

November 15 2013 at 6:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to baharmon78's comment

First, the "elderly" man was the father. The son is the one with the service dog which is needed to help him with his PTSD. He is legally allowed to take the dog any where he damn well wants.

November 15 2013 at 10:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Janet Lee Designs

Ya, the damage was done by even going up to them, finish your food while he makes calls to see if they can stay and finish their food, MORON! Hope he goes out of business!

November 15 2013 at 6:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
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