Granted, people get kicked out of fast food restaurants all the time. In some locations, it happens every day, maybe every hour. But nobody should be kicking out a guy with a service dog.
That bit of nastiness happened this week at a Taco Bell in Jessup, MD, when a man and his dog were asked to please get the hell out, pronto.
Steve Kleckner is a truck driver who has trouble hearing. He has worn hearing aids since he was 11. He has traveled with Snickers, a German Shepherd/Akita mix, since 2000. Snickers helps Steve hear. She’s 13 years old, but she’s still in the game.
“Her sense of hearing is so unbelievably sharp,” Kleckner told ABC News. “When the alarm clock goes off, she wakes me up.”
She also alerts Kleckner when strangers approach the trucks, and other things like that. Snickers wears an orange cape, emblazoned with the words “Hearing Dog,” which ought to put any suspicions to rest.
That wasn’t good enough for a manager of Taco Bell.
Kleckner told ABC News, “A manager came over to me and said, ‘I’m going to call the police, you’re not supposed to have a dog in here.'”
Kleckner stood his ground: “I said to her, go for it, she’s a service dog. It’s protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”
Kleckner was steamed. He called the cops himself, just to get the manager off his back. The cops, however, did the unexpected. They showed up — and showed Kleckner the door. They kicked him out. One even followed him back to his truck, where he was waiting for his next load to haul.
“I’m frustrated right now with the police,” Kleckner said. “They knew this, and they said we’re here to uphold the law.”
ABC News contacted the Howard County Police Department, who confirmed that the incident took place. The police spokesmen played off the reaction of the police, saying that they may not have been able to see proof that the dog was a service dog.
Snickers, of course, was wearing his orange jacket. Maybe the police need a seeing eye dog?
As for Taco Bell, it’s making amends. A district manager apologized to Kleckner. However, Taco Bell also released a statement saying that other customers had asked that Kleckner be thrown out, and that he had been there more than two hours.
Kleckner says that he’d been there less than an hour.
Via ABC News