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For the past 11 years, truck driver Pete Kleckner of Minnesota has been traveling with his loyal service dog, Snickers, a 13-year old German Shepherd/Akita mix that helps him to hear. While Pete isn’t entirely deaf, he has been wearing hearing aids since the age of 11, and Snickers is an important part of his life. When his alarm clock goes off, Snickers wakes up Pete. She also alerts Pete to strangers approaching his truck.
Under federal law, as stated in the Americans With Disabilities Act, privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.
But, last Wednesday, a Taco Bell restaurant in Jessup, Maryland, Pete was approached by the manager who asked him to leave, saying they don’t allow dogs inside the restaurant. The manager threatened to call the police if Pete didn’t leave, despite seeing Snickers’ orange service dog vest.
“I said to her go for it, she’s a service dog. It’s protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,” Kleckner told ABC News.
However, when police arrived, they sided with the restaurant, forcing Pete and Snickers to leave the premises, even following them back to the industrial park where his truck sat waiting for his next load.
Taco Bell’s district manager has since apologized to Kleckner.
If you were Pete Kleckner in this story, what would you do?