Service dog denied entrance to local restaurant, business owner explains why

A Poquoson woman is upset after she says a restaurant owner refused to let her service dog in.

POQUOSON, Va. (WVEC) -- A Poquoson woman is upset after she says a restaurant owner refused to let her service dog in.

Susan Nelson is trying to move past what she calls an uncomfortable experience.

Cali is Nelson’s 15-month-old German Sheppard Cali is a service dog. Nelson has problems balancing and at times she falls. Cali is trained to help Nelson get up.

Nelson and her husband went to Mama Mia's Restaurant & Pizzeria in Poquoson last Thursday, a restaurant they've been to several times before, three times with Cali.

She had Cali with her Thursday, but the restaurant’s owner said the dog wasn't allowed inside.

“It hurt my feelings and it made me mad as hell,” Nelson says.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act,

State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.

“I thought he just needed education, he didn't know,” Nelson says.

Nelson took her frustration to social media where the conversation is taking off.

The owner of Mama Mia’s Ernesto Martinez told 13News Now he made Nelson leave because he didn't know the law. Now he does.

He now wants a sign outside his business letting people know service dogs are welcome. He’s also offering Nelson a free meal.

Nelson realizes many people just don't know.

“People jump to, don't mess with the police, sue him,” Nelson says.  “I'm not sure he knew what the law was why would I want to do that?”

The reason why Nelson's speaking out about her negative experience is because she wants people to be educated, so this doesn't happen to anyone else.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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