Aryeh Ohayon served in the armed forces for 23 years as a member of both the Army and Navy. Like many other military men and women, Ohayon’s experience hasled him to having depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And that’s why his service dog, Bandit, is important. As he told KHOU 11 News, “He’s the alert if I start to if I have a panic attack or start to go back into a flashback mode…He’s my ground. And my family.” However, Ohayon claims that a Houston, Texas restaurant was less than understanding regarding this.
On Tuesday, Mr. Ohayon and Bandit went to the Thai Spice Buffet II but Ohayon was told he couldn’t come in. As The Houston Chronicle notes, it hadn’t even been a year since Texas passed new legislation, “protecting people with service dogs from being refused entry into public places.” Believing the law would be on his side, Ohayon sat down at a booth and called the Houston Police Department (HPD) to back him up. However, any hope for support Mr. Ohayon had was quickly dashed away.
The police officer, thus far unidentified, was not at all understanding. Ohayon told KHOU, “I told him what my disabilities were. That’s when he said, ‘You’re not blind.’ [The officer said,] ‘I don’t see why you need the dog.’” Ohayon left the restaurant, not happy over his treatment. If you’re thinking that maybe reports on this manner have made the Houston PD realize their error…you’d be wrong.
The Houston Chronicle reports that HPD said the complaint was, “cleared as a civil manner.” Spokesperson Victor Senties said that the issue will need to be, “resolved between the two parties.” This continued dismissal over the manner by the Houston Police Department has made people furious. The Chronicle spoke with Bart Sherwood, who certifies service dogs for veterans through Train a Dog, Save a Warrior. He told the paper, “Is there not a police chief down there that knows the law of the state of Texas? It stinks that [Thai Spice] didn't let him in. The police didn't back him up and that stinks even more." It should be noted that the officer who arrived on the scene has claimed that Ohayon denied having a disability when asked. Ohayon describes that allegation as “simply not true.”
As for Thai Spice Buffet II, KHOU spoke with their staff. They claim that it was a misunderstanding, and that they offered Ohayon service while he waited for the HPD to show up, but did acknowledge they were unaware of the law.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time a veteran has been refused service by a Texas restaurant over having a service dog. Only last week , Marine Corps veteran Don Brown was turned away by the River Side Inn Marina in Channelview, Texas over his service dog, Truman. Earlier in February, an Army veteran was, “confronted and embarrassed at a Houston Starbucks.”