The two are the best of friends, and his specially-trained dog accompanies him everywhere, which the Americans with Disabilities Act allows. Unfortunately, not everyone knows about this, which became apparent when Major Brown was visiting Chicago recently.
Chicago to participate in a walk hosted by the organization No Barriers, a group that works with veterans with disabilities. After a successful event, the Major decided to have breakfast at a local French bistro called Cochon Volant before his trip back home to Colorado.
As he sat down to be seated, he was approached by the hostess who, clearly unaware of the law, told the Major that he could not have a dog in the restaurant. In response, the Major politely informed her that the presence of his service dog was, in fact, legal, he ordered his breakfast. However, before it arrived, the woman came over again and demanded that he leave.
“This is my service dog, he can go wherever I go, it’s the law,” Brown told the hostess.
Her reply was short and rude:
“I don’t care, you need to leave, we don’t have dogs in the restaurant.”
Not wanting to escalate the situation, Major Brown left the restaurant with Arthu, and ate elsewhere before catching his flight back to Fort Collins, Colorado.
But the incident stuck with him and he knew the best course of action was to prevent this from happening to other service dog owners, so he posted his story to Facebook.
“When I got home, I posted to my Facebook page, this is what happened to me and it went viral."
The Major was quite surprised by the amount of people who shared the story and chimed in with their support. However, Brown’s intent was not to shame the hostess or the restaurant, but rather to bring awareness to the laws around service dogs, so that others wouldn't have to go through the same thing.
As the veteran alluded to in an interview, it was the responsibility of the restaurant to train her properly and make sure they understand the laws around service animals.
“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 said.
There was simply no way that the veteran could have been without Arthur for the duration of his meal - he is an integral part of his life.
“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. He saved my life and I’m even off the drugs,” he said.
The restaurant came in for a great deal of online criticism, and soon their press office caught wind of the situation, and issued a full and frank apology, saying:
“The Cochon Volant family is both saddened and disappointed to hear this account of a veteran’s experience.”
"Yesterday’s circumstance was not a true representation of our company policy and we have begun an immediate internal review of protocol, training of staff and ADA regulations to ensure this will never happen again.”
In addition to the promise to train their staff better, the restaurant made a donation to Puppies Behind Bars, where Arthur was trained. Major Brown was happy with how the company responded:
"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.”
I'm glad that the restaurant saw sense, and it's great that they donated to Puppies Behind Bars. It would have been better if the situation hadn't happened in the first place, but I guess the lesson has been learned.