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Furor Over Service Dog's Treatment in a Diner Brings People Together

The man who kicked out the dog and his owner apologizes and helps raise awareness about PTSD.

 |  Sep 4th 2013  |   34 Contributions


Last week, after Air Force veteran James Glaser and his service dog, Jack, were turned away from Big I’s diner in Oxford, Massachusetts, the Internet -- and Oxford -- erupted. 

Much of the furor stemmed from owner Russell Ireland's callous treatment of Glaser, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. When Glaser entered the restaurant, he heard someone say, "Get that f-ing fake service dog out of my restaurant." It was Ireland.  

"Just the fact he did it in public, I never felt so belittled in my life," Glaser told NECN in an interview. 

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After being kicked out, Glaser called the police, who informed Ireland that he was in the wrong, but Ireland held his ground. 

"This is not a needs dog to me," Ireland said after the incident. "He did not come in with a harness. There's no muzzle on it."

He also made snide comments.

“How much emotional support do you need when you’re eating breakfast?” he said, according to the Boston Globe.

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Glaser at a weekend rally over the incident.

After Glaser wrote about the event on Facebook, Ireland's world came crashing down. The story drew national attention, outraging veterans and service dog owners alike. A Boycott Big I's Facebook page sprang up, which currently has more than 33,000 likes. Big I's has received a steady stream of angry calls and even arson threats; Ireland has received death threats. 

“It’s the talk of the town; you can’t go anywhere without hearing about it,” said Gordon Cook of Carl’s Oxford Diner. 

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Things came to a head this weekend at a veterans' rally, which was staged at the Greenbriar Recreation Area near the diner to heighten awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder in light of the incident. The rally was organized by the state’s chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, and more than 300 people attended -- after first roaring past Big I's.

Fortunately, one of those was Ireland. Stung by criticism -- and probably looking out for his business --  he attended the rally, got on stage, and apologized directly to Glaser.  

“I stand before you embarrassed, ashamed,” said Ireland, addressing the crowd and Glaser. “I ask for your forgiveness.”

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Glaser and Ireland.

“I just want to thank you for the apology,” said Glaser.

After the rally, Ireland invited Glaser and his wife back to Big I's for a free meal. 

“I was very uneducated about post-traumatic stress disorder,” Ireland told the Boston Globe. “I now realize how important the love of the animals are to those who suffer from the disorder.

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“This has been a living nightmare,” Ireland said. “I am an old-fashioned guy, and this seems to be part of the problem. I am not well known for being politically correct.”

As for Glaser, he is focusing on using his fame to increasing awareness of PTSD. On his Facebook page, he wrote: 

"Just a reminder that the boycott is over and I wish people to eat at his establishment. The purpose of all of this now is education, and he says he is learning and learned. Now let us focus on a bigger forum for education of [the Americans with Disabilities Act] laws and PTSD."

Via the the Boston Globe

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