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Seeing-Eye Dog Refused Entry to Restaurant

Manager apologizes, but advocates for the blind say it happens too often

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 | 12:27 PM ET
Joel Daze said his dog is his eyes, and she gets him where he needs to go. (cbc)

manager of a Subway restaurant has apologized to a visually impaired Ottawa man who was refused service at the restaurant because he wasn’t allowed to bring his seeing-eye dog inside, and advocacy groups for the blind say this happens far too often.

Joel Dazé is almost blind, and doesn’t go anywhere without his service dog. He said Tuesday that has never been a problem until last week.

“I said to myself, ‘I can’t believe this is happening at a Subway,'” Dazé said.

An employee at the Subway at Bank Street and Alta Vista Drive told Dazé he couldn’t bring his dog inside. They quickly got into a shouting match, and Dazé threatened to call police. Only then, he said, did the cashier agree the dog could stay.

“To have somebody be very adamant that I wasn’t allowed to have a dog, I was obviously pretty irate. My dog is my eyes. She gets me where I need to go,” Dazé said.

The manager of the restaurant later issued an apology to Dazé.

Nobody at Subway would appear on camera, but the manager told CBC News the employee involved is new to the job and to the country, and he didn’t know the rules.

“There are complaints [about this kind of treatment] all across the country,” said Michael Potvin, spokesman for the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).

He said the CCB receives regular phone calls with similar stories. Often, he said, the employee involved is a recent immigrant to the country.

“There’s cultural differences, and different cultural values placed on animals in particular. So if we can implement some sort of training, or if the government can implement some kind of training, hopefully we can change some attitudes and raise awareness,” Potvin said.

Under Ontario law, any business that refuses entry could be subject to a human rights violation, and those laws are about to get even tougher. Under the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, businesses in the province have been given two years to start training all employees to properly deal
with anyone with a disability. If they don’t, they could face hefty fines.

“It’s a violation of human rights,” Dazé said.

He hopes the new laws will help to raise awareness.

He said he has no plans to take legal action, or file any formal complaint against the restaurant. But when asked if he’ll eat there again, he said, he’s
lost his appetite.

Reproduced from http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2010/03/10/subway-blindman.html