A veteran was denied access at an Orchard Park, NY restaurant when the owner said his service dog was not allowed inside.
“Not all wounds are visible. Some of us have other issues and the dogs help us. You have no idea how much this dog helps me,” said Brandon Ruzbacki, a veteran living with PTSD.
Ruzbacki’s dog, Murphy, may be his best friend, but he is not a pet. Murphy is a service dog who is always by his side, allowing him to lead a relatively normal civilian life. So, when the pair went to Duff’s restaurant in Orchard Park, Ruzbacki was shocked when they were turned away at the door.
“He told me he was not going to let me in here with my dog because he’s a sanitation risk and what if he bites somebody,” Ruzbacki told WIVB.
Ruzbacki explained to restaurant owner, Philip Kinecki, that Murphy was a service dog and that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, he was permitted inside, but the pair were still turned away. That’s when Ruzbacki turned to Facebook to report what had happened.
Since the post, Duff’s has received a lot of backlash from the public and the owner, admitting his mistake, reached out to apologize.
“I should’ve known the rules and I didn’t exactly understand the difference between the dog designations and what it means to be a service dog and now that I do I feel even worse,” said Philip Kinecki. “I just felt horrible. you know I respect veterans and I don’t want to do anything to hurt a veteran especially someone who needs a service dog.”
Kinecki hopes his mistake is a learning experience for others, to avoid something like this happening somewhere else.
But, Ruzbacki suggested a better way to make things right.
“If he wants to make it right, sponsor a dog for a vet, that’s how you make it right and you’ll see what happens when a vet gets a dog, and what it means to that vet,” he said.
Duff’s Corporate offices have issued an apology and promise to retrain their staff on service dog access rights and laws.