Saskatchewan

'I had no intentions of going anywhere': Regina woman with service dog asked to leave a restaurant — again

For the second time in two months, Ashley Nemeth was asked to leave a restaurant because of her guide dog, Rick, a yellow Labrador that helps her get around independently.

Subway manager says he had never seen a guide dog before, describes incident as a learning experience

Ashley Nemeth is visually impaired and relies on Rick, her service dog, to remain independent. She was denied service at Regina's Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant in November and was asked to leave a Subway restaurant on Thursday. (Submitted by Ashley Nemeth)

For the second time in two months, Ashley Nemeth has been asked to leave a restaurant because of her guide dog.

The guide dog, Rick, is a yellow Labrador that helps Nemeth, who doesn't have any usable vision, to get around independently.

When Nemeth and her husband went to a Subway in the 900 block of Albert Street for lunch on Thursday, she had her guide dog with her.

"We went to sit down to eat our food, and then an employee… went over to my husband and said, 'Sir, there's no pets allowed in here. You're going to have to leave,' " Nemeth said.

Nemeth explained that service dogs are allowed in restaurants and continued eating.

"I had no intentions of going anywhere," she said.

Lack of education

At Chuck E. Cheese's in Regina in November, Nemeth was refused service because she had her guide dog with her.

Nemeth believes this is due to a lack of education, and that it should be up to the business owners to educate and train their employees.

"We would never tell someone they couldn't come into a restaurant with their wheelchair, so why is it still happening... with a service animal? So I think it lies with the business owners to educate and train their employees properly."

Nemeth emailed Subway as soon as she left the restaurant, outlining what happened and asking if they could contact her and train their staff about service animals.

'This is totally new to me'

Harvik Patel is the manager at the Subway where the incident occurred, and he was the employee who asked Nemeth and her husband to leave.

He said it was the first time he's ever seen a service dog. He thought it was a pet, and asked the couple to leave because Subway has a strict no-pets policy.

This is totally new to me. I've never seen any dog like this before.- Harvik Patel, Subway manager

"This is totally new to me. I've never seen any dog like this before," Patel said. "Now I know…. I'll inform my staff as well regarding this. I'm pretty sure there won't be anything like that in the future."

Nemeth told Patel to Google whether service dogs are allowed in restaurants, and he said he did. He said the incident was a learning experience.

"I've never seen that, otherwise I would never say anything to a customer like that…. Now I would recognize, for sure."

Service animals 'always welcome,' Subway says

Subway Franchise World Headquarters said in an email that service animals are always allowed in Subway restaurants.

"We are glad the restaurant manager is re-educating the staff about our policy to ensure this does not happen again," the email read.

"We will also be asking all of our franchisees to remind their staff members that service animals are always welcome in our restaurants."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.

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