Dogs & Laws

Restaurant Owner Kicks Out Customer & Service Dog Before Posting Anti-Service Dog Rant

A Colorado restaurateur not only defied federal law when he kicked out a customer with his service dog, but followed the incident with a public anti-service dog Facebook rant and an offensive email to the customer. Now, he could be facing hefty federal fines for discrimination against the disabled.

service dog

Disabled veteran Chris Suter and his service dog, Lunch. Image credit Chris Suter

Chris Suter, a 52-year-old disabled veteran, visited Bayfield, Colorado’s Pura Vida Cafe with his family, a friend, and, of course, his service dog, Lunch.

Lunch, a 75-pound Pointer mix, has helped his disabled veteran handler with mobility issues for the past 4 years. Lunch steadies Suter when walking and provides stability and support to assist him in getting back up if he falls.

Just moments after sitting down at a table on September 12, Gary Peach, who identified himself as the restaurant owner, approached the table and told the guests no dogs were allowed, Suter explained to The Durango Herald.

Suter said that after explaining that Lunch was a service dog and informing Peach that under the American’s With Disabilities Act, he was granted federal rights to bring Lunch with him into any public place, including restaurants, Peach reportedly said, “The ADA does not apply to me, it’s my restaurant, get out.”

When the confrontation became heated, Suter, who teaches classes about service dog law and etiquette, left the restaurant, but not before providing his email address and offering to provide information and education about service dog access laws to Peach and his employees.

Later that evening, restaurant owner Peach sent a lengthy, offensive email to Suter, defending his actions. First, Peach expressed frustration over allowing dogs into restaurants, particularly alongside patrons that falsely claim their dog is a service animal.

Then, the law-breaking restaurateur made some suggestions to the disabled veteran that got our blood boiling.

“There are ways around your disability such as having one of the people with you steady you as you walk or pick you up should you fall,” Peach wrote in the email, which Suter shared with The Durango Herald. “… You claimed this dog was your wheelchair then maybe you should get a wheelchair for restaurant purposes???”

Days later, the restaurant owner took things from bad to much worse, posting a (since deleted) public Facebook rant against service dog laws that included the following statements:

“I cannot and will not go along with the idiotic service dog [expletive],” the post read. “It is a very poorly written joke of a law that was not thought out for even a minute. … I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

Suter said that, in the four years that he’s been partnered with Lunch, he has faced incidents of discrimination from other establishments. But, after Peach’s late night email, this was the first time he’s filed a federal complaint.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Confidential

    Oct 1, 2017 at 12:35 am

    I think the owner should have handled this better, however from reading his rant on Facebook, I read between the lines of what his issues are. 1) Some individuals bring their dogs in and there is no way to distinguish if in fact it is a service animal or not a service animal. 2) That he has had an owner bring in a dog which defacated in his restaurant and they may not have cleaned it up. 3) Some of his patrons may have allergies pertaining to dogs, to which he is concerned that he may be liable. 4) There are no regulations pertaining to the service animals, and as to what the tasks are that they do, and how they can assist the disabled person. Here in British Columbia Canada, our Service Animals, have to pass a Provincial Testing along with the handler, and there is many different tasks they must be able to do depending on what the diagnosis of the disabled person is. This testing is repeated throughout. They then license the dog, and handler, and provide a photo government issued id card for the dog/ handler. This provides service providers the ability to see that it is actually a licensed service animal. Perhaps this man's location should also do something like this

  2. Silentone

    Sep 30, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    The feds need to light this owner up!

  3. Helen Witschi

    Sep 30, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Having been involved in providing services dogs over the years, I find this restaurant owner extremely offensive & he should not only be fined, but the restaurant closed! What he has done is a slap in the face to every service person who has been injured protecting his rights! I would also add that I find some children extremely offensive in restaurants . . . . does that mean that I can request that they be asked to leave?? DON'T THINK SO! These dogs are clean, very well behaved and totally unobtrusive. He better pray to God that he stays healthy and uninjured because when the time comes that he will need a service dog. I HOPE THAT HE IS TURNED DOWN. AFTER ALL, PEOPLE AND A WHEELCHAIR SHOULD SUFFICE!

  4. Lesley

    Sep 30, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I was appalled in Montreal this week when we were visiting from the UK to see a blind man and his girlfriend being told they must sit in the back corner of an outsid area of a cafe. Talk about being treated like a second class citizen in what is supposed to be a first world country. So sad

  5. Brenda Caronna

    Sep 29, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I hope the owner is fined big time!!! It's ridiculous to treat our service men so badly!!! I surely would skip his
    Restaurant the next time we are in his town!!!

  6. Della Williamson

    Sep 29, 2017 at 10:39 am

    This is really sad. Discrimination of all sorts is increasing. Sadly, people focus on the blacks. But they are not treated as bad as the Native Americans, or even some of the handicapped. People have actually hit seeing eye dogs with their bags and pushed them out of their way because they go to slow. I have even heard a woman tell a blind man he should apologize for being blind and slow. It is utterly disgusting how cruel people are. And, sorry to say this, but it has actually gotten worse since trump has made fun of the handicapped.

  7. Rieann

    Sep 29, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Peach should LOSE HIS restaurant BOYCOTT THIS PIECE OF SHIT

    • Brenda Caronna

      Sep 29, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Agree

    • Ash

      Oct 1, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Then maybe we should find his restaurant’s yelp and Facebook (or any ther pages that allow reviews to be posted) pages and leave him numerous bad reviews…why sit by and do nothing when we are against injustice?

  8. Ex

    Sep 29, 2017 at 12:40 am

    There is no need for a service dog to enter a customer service establishment. Customer "service" will help you get up, help you find your food, help you pay for your meals. The list could go on.

    • Brandy Arnold

      Sep 29, 2017 at 10:15 am

      You can't be serious.

      • Della Williamson

        Sep 29, 2017 at 10:41 am

        Sadly. The sorry excuse is. Probably the cruel person I saw hit a blind man's service dog with their shopping bags because they were too slow and told them they should apologize for slowing people up and for being born blind. It is so terribly sad the way people treat others

      • Ash

        Oct 1, 2017 at 7:13 pm

        This guy (Ex) obviously has issues with compassion and is most likely one of “those” people who discriminate against others. It’s so sad that people like this exist in our world, when if the shoe were on the other foot they’d be demanding their right to be respected.

    • Lois

      Sep 29, 2017 at 11:54 am

      Mind your own business. It is the law.. he has the right as the person with a disability. Don't like it, tough. The dogs are better trained than most people. I know.

      • C Pellegrino

        Oct 1, 2017 at 7:21 am

        Love that animals are finally being used as service pets. To bad people dont take lessons from them on politeness and manners..not to mention being smart.

    • Jennifer

      Oct 6, 2017 at 9:29 am

      So each person that needs assistance should assume that there is someone on staff to help them? HA! I guess you've never been to a restaurant where you can't get service, your order is taken late, or comes out wrong, or the server is non-existent after you get your food. Do you honestly think that this wouldn't happen to a person that needs help? And why should they lose their independence and self-respect just because someone doesn't like dogs? I would much rather dine with dogs than a cruel person like you. I would rather dine with dogs than children, because service dogs are MUCH better behaved than most children. And dogs definitely have a bigger, kinder heart than you.

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