But owner of restaurant says man left voluntarily
CBC News Posted: Jun 14, 2012
An Alberta man with a permanent brain injury says a manager kicked him out of a McDonald’s restaurant on Monday because he claimed that customers were complaining about his service dog.
“Your dog stinks and everybody is writing letters to me,” John Dignard says he was told by the manager of the McDonald’s in Wetaskiwin, Alta. “I’m tired of it and I want you to leave.”
Dignard suffered a permanent brain injury after he was struck by a car when he was five years old. He relies on his dog, Eve, to aid him with his sense of direction and to overcome confusion and short-term memory lapses.
Dignard’s service dog Eve sits beside her owner on Wednesday. (CBC)Dignard, who says he goes to the McDonald’s regularly for coffee, showed the manager a government-issued certification for the dog and told him that he could not be denied service.
“I’ll pay the fine … I don’t care. I want you and the dog never to come back here no more,” Dignard says the manager replied.
Dignard says he was shocked and hurt by what the manager told him. While he would like an apology from McDonald’s, he says he will never go back.
“I’m not going to spend my money at McDonald’s if they cannot respect my disability.”
Two McDonald’s employees told CBC News a similar story. But in a written statement, D.J. Sharma, the owner and operator of the McDonald’s in Wetaskiwin, said that Dignard was never asked to leave.
“The customer and his service animal have always been welcome in the restaurant and at no time were they refused service or asked to leave,” Sharma wrote in the statement.
“We reached out to the customer after receiving numerous customer complaints regarding the individual’s behaviour and the well-being of his service animal. After approaching the customer, they voluntarily left the restaurant.”
Dignard says he is planning to complain to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
“Change your attitude towards service dogs,” Dignard said. “They’re not pets. They’re working dogs … my handicap is invisible.”
With files from the CBC’s James Hees