A blind man has expressed his anguish after being shouted at and kicked out of a convenience store because of his service dog, Doc.
Michael Barnes is reliant on his loyal service dog to get around safely on public outings. Barnes told his local news channel, CBS Atlanta:
“Doc means a lot to me,” Barnes said. “Doc is not just a service animal. He’s my best friend, he’s my companion. When I’m out walking down the street, or when I’m walking through a store, Doc is my eyes. I tell him the direction, and he goes.”
Mr Barnes was visiting the store (Quick Pantry) with a friend, also blind, when he was yelled at by the manager, even though he and Doc had both visited the store previously.
“The manager rudely comes up to us and starts yelling, ‘No dogs in here, no dogs near food,'” Barnes said. “We actually pulled out the Georgia guide dog law to show him that these are service dogs, and that we have a right to come in the store.”
The pair called the police but were still denied entry by the store’s clerk, Hiteshkumar Patel.
Barnes and Weaver called police on the store clerk named Hiteshkumar Patel, but Patel still wouldn’t let the dogs into the store.
“All we want is the guy to allow us to come in, and to purchase our items. That’s all we wanted to do was go in, shop and leave,” Barnes explained.
CBS Atlanta visited Quick Pantry to speak with its owner Pete Patel, who explained that the business had since clarified to all staff that service dogs must be granted entry.
“On behalf of him and me, we didn’t know it was legal, that you can let them in,” Mr Patel stated.
Athens-Clarke County Police issued a statement saying that Barnes, Weaver and Hiteshkumar Patel are to attend a pre-warrant hearing in magistrate court and a decision will be made on whether any charges should be issued.