Like many former military personnel with PTSD, Major Diggs Brown uses a service dog to help him navigate civilian life. The retired Green Beret, author (Your Neighbor Went to War), and military analyst regularly relies on his handsome Lab Arthur, who was trained at Puppies Behind Bars.
“He does a lot of things. He wakes me up from nightmares when I have them. When I have anxiety attacks, he calms me down,” Major Diggs told CBS Chicago. “He saved my life; I’m even off the drugs.”
One thing Arthur does not do? Get Major Brown served at Chicago’s upscale brasserie Cochon Volant, at least when Hannah is on duty. When he tried to dine there with Arthur at his feet during a trip to with Windy City last weekend, a manager named Hannah informed him in no certain terms — twice, once on arrival, and the second time after he already placed his order — that he had to leave.
According to CBS Chicago:
When my service dog and I walked in, the hostess took us to the table, and the young lady named Hannah, she said you can’t have a dog in the restaurant. I kept my cool, and I said, you know it’s the American Disabilities Act. This is my service dog, he can go wherever I go, it’s the law. So I was seated, placed my order, then Hannah came over again and said I have to leave. I said it’s my service dog, and she said, ‘I don’t care, you need to leave. We don’t have dogs in the restaurant.’ I could go to the Department of Justice with this if we continue down this path.
Hannah, unwisely, stood her ground, and Major Brown left. When he got home, he turned to his Facebook page — or rather, the Facebook page of his dog, Arthur — leaving this picture and message:
Chicago welcomes a vet and his service dog. So sad, dad and I went for breakfast and after dad ordered the manager, Hanna, came over and told us we could not dine at the restaurant. Even when dad told her I am a service dog, she said she didn’t care. Kicked to the curb.
And then everything went crazy, as it should have. The post went viral, supporters piled in with comments condemning the restaurant, and Yelpers flooded the restaurant’s entry with one-star reviews, turning the page into a discussion about service dogs, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the horribleness of Cochon Volant.
It didn’t take long for the general manager to rush in to make amends.
“The manager of the restaurant then called me personally and then emailed me, apologizing,” said Major Brown. And a message appeared on Cochon Volant’s Facebook page, apologizing for how it handled the situation and promising that it would finally, you know, tell its staff about the law (as well as make some quick donations to a few groups Major Brown supports):
We at Cochon Volant sincerely apologize for the unfortunate situation that occurred yesterday morning at our establishment. We admit with much regret that this situation was handled inappropriately and apologize for the disrespect it has caused. Yesterday’s circumstance was a not a true representation of our company policy, and we have begun immediate internal review of protocol, training of staff, and ADA regulations to ensure this will never happen again.
To show our earnest apology, we are making donations to Puppies Behind Bars and Colorado Disabled Veterans, which we know are organizations close to Maj. Diggs Brown. The willingness of America’s Veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting respect and gratitude. We take full responsibility for yesterday’s events and sincerely apologize.
For his part, Major Diggs is satisfied with the result, praising the restaurant’s “corrective reaction” in a Facebook post, and says it considers the incident “closed.”
“It’s not my intent to destroy a restaurant, but it is my intent to make them aware that they have violated a law that not only affects veterans with dogs, but other people with disabilities with service laws, and that they need to be aware that it’s discrimination,” he told CBS Chicago. “They’ve stepped up to the plate, and they are going to make some changes at the restaurant, so I’m happy in my mind that it is resolved.”
That’s good, and hopefully the furor will reach the eyes and ears of other restaurant staff across the country who remain ignorant of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Via CBS Chicago.
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