Veteran denied service at restaurant due to service dog - FOX Carolina 21

Veteran denied service at restaurant due to service dog

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Joane Powner and Nikki (FOX Carolina) Joane Powner and Nikki (FOX Carolina)
EASLEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Upstate veteran said she was asked to leave a restaurant and the owner even called police when she tried to bring her service dog with her into the eatery.

The restaurant owner admitted he made a mistake because he didn't know the laws regarding service animals.

Joane Powner said she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from her stint in the Navy, and her 6-year-old service dog Nikki helps her cope with her symptoms.

"If I have a flashback she gets me out of it," Powner said. "When I have a nightmare she will wake me up in the middle of the night. She can just sense it."

When Powner and Nikki stopped into the China Garden Buffet on Calhoun Memorial Highway Friday night, she says she was asked to leave, and felt a wave of emotions.

"Embarrassed, humiliated, saddened, nervous," Powner said.

Powner said she showed all of Nikki's paperwork and a copy of the American Disabilities Act to the owner, who ended up calling police.

The owner said he was afraid of violating health codes and asked Powner to leave the restaurant until police could clarify things. Instead of providing answers, the owner said Easley police told him the case was a civil matter and wouldn't provide further assistance.

China Garden employees are now familiar with the laws about service dogs and the owner says service animals will be welcomed.

Powner said she hopes other business owners will take notice from this incident.

"I just want it to be known to other people, that you have rights with your service dog," Powner said.

The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has compiled a list of commonly asked questions and answers about service dogs in places of business. Click here to read the list.

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