Local restaurant denies service to man with service dog
FORT OGLETHORPE, GA (WRCB) -
One man’s experience at a Fort Oglethorpe restaurant has left a bad taste in his mouth after they refused him service because of his service dog. But the restaurant's manager told Channel 3 it was a misunderstanding and that they want to make things right.
Roger Corley, who suffers from PTSD after serving in the military, and his dog Missy were denied service Friday from El Matador Restaurant in Fort Oglethorpe.
“I walked in and the lady said ‘you can’t have an animal in here,’” Corley said. “I explained it’s not just an animal, it’s not a pet, it’s a service animal. I showed her the identification for my dog. She told me it didn’t matter and that I wasn’t allowed to come in with her.”
The restaurant manager who turned the man away told Channel 3 she didn’t know about PTSD service dogs or the Georgia law that allows Corley to take Missy anywhere.
“It’s my mistake,” said Maria D. Martinez De Arellano. “I’m thinking it’s a regular dog because I don’t see him blind, I think only the blind people need the dog.”
Fort Oglethorpe police responded to the scene. According to the incident report, De Arellano told the officer she couldn’t let Corley to eat there with his dog because she had other customers.
The door has a sign saying “no pets” allowed inside but Corley said Missy isn’t a pet.
Corley was diagnosed with PTSD in 2014 after serving a tour in Iraq. The Veterans Administration recommended he invest in a certified service dog. So Corley adopted 3-year-old Missy from a North Georgia shelter last year, trained her and got her certified.
“It’s just wrong,” Corley said. “It’s like telling someone you can’t come to a restaurant because you’re in a wheelchair. It’s the same thing. She is my handicap.”
De Arellano said she hopes Corley and Missy will return to her restaurant now that she understands the law. But Corley said he won’t visit again and is now speaking to attorneys about legal action.
According to the incident report, the manager violated Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 30-4-4 Denial of or interference with admittance to or enjoyment of facilities or exercise of rights. The restaurant was issued a warning and police printed a copy of the law for the restaurant to keep in its lobby for future reference.