Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ignorant remark about service dog puts restaurant owner in trouble

An Auckland restaurant owner is under fire after asking a visually impaired woman if her guide dog "had fleas" before seating her.

Christchurch woman Julia Aguilar, 26, was out with fiance Jonathan Mosen, 39, who is also visually impaired, two American friends and her guide dog Reggie. The group had made a reservation at Tony's in Lorne St, Auckland.

Aguilar told the Herald on Sunday that when they entered the restaurant, the owner asked if the dog had fleas.

"He said he was afraid it would be a problem for the other patrons to have the dog in the restaurant."

She assured him the dog was clean, and the party was seated at a table near the bar, which they found too noisy. They left the restaurant after a dispute about the seating arrangements.

Mosen, who is a past president of the Foundation for the Blind, claimed they had received inferior service because of the guide dog.

"I felt like standing up in the middle of the restaurant and saying, 'Excuse me, does anyone actually mind us having the dog here'?"

When the Herald on Sunday approached owner Damon Ropata, he agreed he had asked about the dog's hygiene, but denied the party had been given poor service.

"My main concern was the comfort of our other customers. The tables are so close to each other, we don't want anybody tripping over anything. We are not discriminatory to anybody. We gave them a table, but they chose to leave ."


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