TGIFridays Apologizes For Refusing Service To Disabled Teen

TGIFriday’s has apologized after refusing to accommodate a disabled teen and her trained companion dog, says the Suburban Chicago Daily Herald:

The manager at T.G.I. Friday’s in Wheeling told the Arlington Heights family on Saturday that the restaurant couldn’t accommodate Dawn even after Greenberg showed him her Public Access card, which explains the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Greenberg said they were told that since Laura already had someone to help her, the dog couldn’t be allowed in.

It’s illegal to refuse to allow a companion animal into a restaurant, and Mr. TGIFriday’s Guy should know that.

The restaurant issued a statement apologizing for the incident:

“We are very sorry for the terrible mistake our restaurant made. We absolutely should have accommodated our guest and her companion dog. We have contacted the guest to offer our sincerest apologies and we have re-educated restaurant management on proper procedures to ensure a similar situation does not occur.”

Amy Freshwater, spokeswoman for T.G.I. Friday’s, said Tuesday the manager had been replaced and the company will be re-educating management on the importance of ADA guidelines.

“We’re absolutely appalled with the situation in the first place,” she said. “This is something we’re taking seriously.”

Hey, what do you know? They’re taking it seriously.

Greenberg said she did not want the employee to be fired, but would like he and his coworkers to receive training, says the Daily Herald.

“He needs sensitivity training,” she said. “He needs more than just telling him, ‘You did a bad thing.'”

No kidding. What a jerk!

Wheeling restaurant apologizes after refusing service to disabled teen [Daily Herald]
(Photo:Mark Welsh )


Edit Your Comment

  1. D-Bo says:

    You’re welcome ;)

  2. j03m0mma says:

    Good for TGIFriday’s for actually taking something seriously and fixing the problem. Now if they didn’t serve horrible prepackaged food I would actually eat there.

  3. coaster.n3rd says:

    good for the patrons that went to the next restaurant with them. I would hopefully do the same.

  4. IphtashuFitz says:

    From the original Daily Herald article:

    “Greenberg said others in the restaurant overheard the exchange and got up and went with them to a restaurant nearby.”

    I’m glad to hear that others who witnessed the incident chose to take even such simple action. I hope they fully enjoyed their alternate meals.

  5. jamesdenver says:

    Jeez nice birthday. If I was the friend or parent with them I would have just rolled, err – walked right on in and sat the hell down.

    If the ignorant host on duty complained or asked for management backup there HAD to have been SOME staff on duty that would say “chill out they’re fine”

    That and any PATRON in the place would stand up as well. If I was sitting at TGI Fridays waiting for a table or seated and saw this go down I sure as hell would say to

    I’m curious WHERE the other staff was (or patrons) who would have stepped in?

    But then again having the initial interaction of denial might have soured my mood so much I wouldn’t WANT to stay.

  6. JPinCLE says:

    @JO3MOMMA: Seriously, I’m not going to not go to Friday’s because some manager in West Viriginia screwed up. I’m not going to go because their food sucks.

    I think I may be stretching a bit, here, but this fits into my single greatest pet peeve: people given a tiny bit of responsibility who think that they are now the HMFIC of the universe… generally restaurant managers don’t take the bait, but a couple of those that do:

    Parking lot traffic directors
    Home Depot Security

    When confronted with common sense, always refer back to the rules you think ought to be in place! No dogs, dammit! It’s a restaurant for crying out loud! ADA paperwork? Don’t bother me with the facts, I RUN this Friday’s, dammit!

  7. muki-muki says:

    This time I have to agree with the restaurant. Please read the following taken directly from the ADA act. This pet does not qualify.

    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.

    Q: What is a service animal?

    A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

    Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. “Seeing eye dogs” are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

    _____Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.

    _____ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.

    _____Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

  8. jamesdenver says:

    just read the above. Good for them. I would have joined them.

  9. BustedWheel says:

    TGI-Fridays issued the following statment later that day:

    “Oh yeah, we are also sorry for towing their car out of the handicap space……our bad”

  10. laddibugg says:

    Why would you think that someone doesn’t need the companion if they have someone with them? Granted in this case it was the person’s parents, but in general, a person shouldn’t have to rely on other people–that’s what the dog is for!

  11. UpsetPanda says:

    So disabled people can’t go out to eat with friends and family? How stupid…

  12. Rusted says:

    Violating ADA requirements is not a good thing. Think of hefty fines, for one.

  13. cde says:

    I’m kinda tossed in the middle with this. On one hand, I can’t believe people assume TGIF is doing this out of compassion, and not for trying to prevent a multimillion legal castration, but on the other hand, I can’t blame the guy if this the first time he’s actually had to deal with the ADA in real life. Aside from the required reading he no doubtly had to read (probably years before the incident),how clear are the actual requirements? Do they have exclusions? Does it say “x is not required to allow y type of helper animal for z reason”? Did anyone explain to him that part during the incident?

    From the DOJ link on the post:
    Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?

    A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.

    Although a public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its goods and services without having the service animal on the premises.

    Q: Can I exclude an animal that doesn’t really seem dangerous but is disruptive to my business?

    A: There may be a few circumstances when a public accommodation is not required to accommodate a service animal–that is, when doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the business. Generally, this is not likely to occur in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities. But when it does, for example, when a dog barks during a movie, the animal can be excluded.

    Those two, even from just a FAQ, could have been reasons he decided the animal shouldn’t be allowed, even if wrong decisions.

    @JPinCLE: HMFIC?

  14. eddieisannoying says:

    I’m glad Friday’s came to their senses, though I do think the dog was trying to take advantage when he wanted to light up a cigarette in the non-smoking section

  15. Munsoned says:

    TGI Fridays makes my tummy feel yucky. :(

  16. bohemian says:

    What kind of bubble does someone grow up in to have no understanding of an assistance animal?

    Anyone given the responsibility to manage anything should have a copy of the ADA rules stapled to their forehead. Ok, making them read and understand them would probably work for most people.

  17. jamesdenver says:


    I’ve been in restaurants, hotels, airports, on the local bus, and even had a service dog TRAIN here at my work for a few months – and can’t ever recall one incident where the dog was disruptive or barked at anyone.

  18. algormortis says:

    Yeah. The whole reason the service dogs are trained is to avoid the whole bark, growl, etc. thing.

    I might be biased. Used to raise pups for the local guide dog school and folks I know often use guide dogs. I also waited tables for 10+ years and can tell you with some kind of certainty that most intelligent restaurant types are well-versed in guide dogs and the law, especially for dealing with whiny patrons with issues about the presence of service dogs just because they’re dogs.

    That said, I feel like said restaurant manager is a jerk who should rot in hell. I’m already on the “i don’t eat there because the food sucks” tip, but if this is the kind of “talent” they’re hiring to “manage” their restaurants, apologizing is a wonderful sign and all but their problems are more systemic.

    (And, yeah, I watched a Starbucks manager get fired for doing this once. Wouldn’t be inappropriate.)

  19. starrion says:

    They said they were sorry and fired the offending manager.

    Seems to me that they “took it seriously”.

  20. cde says:

    @bohemian: I live in a metropolis (Near NYC, frequent trips there as well), and in the last 15 years have yet to even see a assistance animal outside of that one time in middle school where we had someone come in.

    I’m not saying that it was being disruptive, but just trying to see why the Manager would not allow it in.

  21. humphrmi says:

    I don’t think I can forgive TGI Friday’s on this one. It’s easy to save some money on ADA training in the first place, and then make profuse apologies later. They should have spent the money on training everyone about the ADA properly to begin with.

  22. Hamm Beerger says:

    @cde: He didn’t let the dog in because he was an idiot. I’m glad he got fired.

  23. Munsoned says:

    @cde: I live in DC, and see an assistance animal on the Metro at least once or twice a month.

  24. Maverickewu says:

    @jamesdenver: Actually, if it wasn’t a birthday, I’m sure someone would have been tempted to. I would have loved to see the police be called, the mother show the ADA card, and the police to look at the manager and say, “what’s the problem?”

    Hopefully someone who has the authority to make sure that this restaurant receives the fine it’s due read the newspaper or the Consumerist.

  25. Munsoned says:

    @cde: I think that example number 2 is probably intended for things like rides at theme parks and cat-only day-care centers, not TGI Fridays.

  26. rolla says:

    damn straight that TGIF should act the way it is. They totally violated the ADA and the person’s civil rights. Of course theyre doing what theyre doing…trying to avoid a costly lawsuit or at least mitigate the damages.

  27. jenl1625 says:

    @cde: Actually, both of the given FAQ answers seem to pretty clearly say that the dog should be allowed in, but could then be removed if it became a disruption. The first example says you can’t assume that this dog will be a disruption just because other dogs have been in the past. The second says that normally, a service animal will not be a disruption in and of itself at a restaurant. . . . .

  28. dantsea says:

    The manager was an idiot and deserved to get fired.

    From all the customer service jobs I had in my youth, quite a few of them in corporate-run chains, the training videos (pre-ADA, even) were always very specific: Do everything reasonable to accommodate a disabled customer, do not question or challenge their disability or support requests, service animals ALWAYS permitted. I can’t believe that’s changed much in the past 20-some years.

  29. royal72 says:

    i suggest preparing for scenarios like this ahead of time. knowing how well service dogs are trained, i would think it’s pretty easy to train them to shit on command. next time something like this happens, give the manager a wink and say the word “shit” with authority. be sure to have a puppy treat with you for a job well done.

  30. spinachdip says:

    @j03m0mma: “What, you guys brought me to Friday’s? Geez, blind doesn’t mean I can’t taste.”

    @cde: Question 1 is a moot point. As far as we know, the dog neither barked nor bit another customer. Nowhere is it suggested that a manager can preemptively keep a guide dog out for fear of a threat. As for Q2, how the hell would accommodating a guide require “fundamental alteration to the nature of the business” (emphasis mine, obviously). It really helps to understand what you quote.

  31. Craig says:

    TGI Friday so I have the rest of the weekend to recover from my meal.

  32. guroth says:

    I fail to see what the purpose of the companion dog is for this girl.

    According to the article the girl cannot walk or talk. She is still perfectly capable of hearing and seeing, and I seriously doubt the dog is for pulling her wheelchair around.

    There are lawyers who make their money getting disabled people to go and cause scenes at businesses so that the lawyer can sue based on disability laws.

    I am always amazed at all the sheep who blindly side with the party in which the article clearly sides with.

  33. UpsetPanda says:

    @guroth: I don’t think it’s a matter of whether she NEEDS the dog or not…she obviously has one, and as she is disabled, how she is disabled should not matter since she does have a service dog, and it isn’t just any animal, it’s a trained service animal.

  34. spinachdip says:

    @spinachdip: Eh, I should RTFA too.

  35. muki-muki says:

    The key is companion animal. Look it up, a companion animal provides no service or assistance to the disabled. It is not qualified under the ADA act. This pet is not entitled as a seeing eye, guide dog or other animal trained to assist the individual to overcome the disability of the individual.

  36. bluecashier says:

    The store where I work often has companion dogs in-training there with the trainer. They wear a coat that indicates “Companion Dog In-Training. Do not Touch or Pet”. One trainer told me they are taken to a variety of public places to acclimate them and teach them not to bark or react to anyone. They really become a one person dog and, in this case, would help the girl maybe pick up things for her and would be a source of happiness. TGIF no doubt fired the manager in charge to show regret and avoid a suit.

  37. morganlh85 says:

    @muki-muki: I don’t see your point here?

  38. jamesdenver says:


    Ya know I think I knew from age seven that guide dogs exist, not to pet or play with them, and that they get a pass when accompanying a special needs person. Doesn’t every grade school at one point have a guide dog come in for a visit?

    And I honestly CAN’T think of a business where a service dog would disrupt “the fundamental nature of the business.”

    From a movie theater to a natatorium to a Arby’s to a brothel. MAYBE an indoor squirrel park might be an exception. But everywhere else the dogs just sit there at attention.

    For someone to not understand the basic concept baffles me. Sheer stupidity.

  39. jamesdenver says:


    Hey I agree. Not every kid needs a service dog at their side all the time, or at all. This is a perfect example of going overboard with service dogs:


    But that’s irrelevant in this case. The kid HAS the dog, and common courtesy and the law says we should accommodate them in a respectful manner.

    And I HIGHLY doubt this kid was being toted around as a prop or settlement cash-machine in waiting.

  40. rkm12 says:

    @guroth: Assistance animals are more than just seeing eye dogs. They can get doors, pick up things and grab telephones.

  41. rkm12 says:

    @jamesdenver: You don’t know the kids full condition or what the dog does for them. All we know is what’s in the paper.

  42. rkm12 says:

    @muki-muki: A: “The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.”

  43. cde says:

    @guroth: According to the DOJ faq linked in the post, some service animals are intended for just that, pulling or helping people in wheelchairs out.
    //_____ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.//

    @muki-muki: If this is true, and the dog is a “companion animal”
    Most animals, including but not limited to those labeled Companion Animals, Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Animals or pets are NOT service animals according to ADA’s Definition, as they have NOT been individually trained to perform disability mitigating tasks. Thus their handlers do not legally qualify for public access rights. Typically these animals also lack the months of training on obedience and manners needed to behave properly under challenging conditions in places of public accommodation.
    Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself.

    Sure, the manager had no way of knowing if the retriever was a Service or Companion animal, and should have assumed the protected instead of unprotected, but has the family been falsly claiming ADA benefits?

  44. badgerette says:

    I may be biased because my kid’s a wheelchair kid, but I think if you’re blind and can’t walk, and are therefore isolated on a level that few people experience in their lives, a companion dog may be a necessary source of comfort. Particularly for a teenager. Muki-Muki is correct about the legal differentiation between companion animal & guide dog, but in this case it sucks.

  45. youbastid says:

    “This is something we’re taking seriously.”

    Thank God for TISFridays!

  46. cde says:

    @jamesdenver: I did get that school visit, as I had mentioned.

  47. cde says:

    @youbastid: TakingItSeriously Fridays?

  48. spinachdip says:

    @morganlh85: I think the point is that there is a legal distinction between a service dog and a companion dog. The former is certified and trained, and identified with a vest, the latter may or may not be trained, and not certified. The former has access to public places guaranteed by the ADA, the latter does not. In this case, it looks like the companion dog was trained to serve as a de facto service dog, but wasn’t protected by the ADA.

    But I think it’s a moot point here. Based on the employee’s rationale, the companion dog would have been allowed if not for the human companions. That means the restaurant saw the dog as a service dog and they clearly did not see the dog as a threat or disruption. In that case, why would you leave the dog out?

    So it’s not so much the legality but the stupidity.

  49. humperdinck says:

    @cde: Head Mother Fucker In Charge

  50. EtherealStrife says:

    I’m so training a service donkey.

  51. cde says:

    @EtherealStrife: That would be Epic Fail. You can’t FIT a donkey in some stores. You need a Service Burro or pocket pony.

  52. rkm12 says:

    @EtherealStrife: I once knew a girl who wanted to have her ferret as an assistance animal. I think she was serious.

  53. sbruno33 says:

    I would think that after bad publicity TGIFriday’s would offer free gift cards to the family, and/or maybe say they were sorry by writing a large check to a guide dog foundation. How serious are they?

  54. spinachdip says:

    @EtherealStrife: Oh, don’t be an ass.

    Ha ha ha! Get it? Ass? Ha ha! Good lord, I’m funny.

  55. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    I’ve worked at the TGIF and this restaurant contradicts all the training I had there. As an SPG, I would have just sat them, no questions asked. And my my GM wouldn’t care either.

  56. gingerCE says:

    I haven’t seen any fully trained dogs act disruptive but there must be a training center near me cause I see dogs with the service dog in training jackets on–these dogs are friendly to people but do jump around a bit and get excited to see people (as most normal dogs do). However even while in training, these dogs are allowed in everywhere.

    One time I saw this yellow lab service dog who looked miserable–absolutely unhappy. The disabled owner had posted a sign on the dog that said, “Do not touch or say hello to me!” The owner could walk but needed assistance reaching items on high shelves and asked a worker to help her. I overhead the disabled owner berate the worker and was just plain unfriendly and mean. I felt really bad for this service dog.

  57. cde says:

    @rkm12: Well, ferrets are great at picking up things… Problem being they pick em up and hide them. Ferrets = Kleptos and ADHD suffers.

  58. jamesdenver says:

    ok if we’re deteriorating into stupid jokes and puns I’ll admit I’ve been dying to point out that this story takes place in “Wheeling.”

  59. rkm12 says:

    @jamesdenver: It’s ok, I had a good chuckle at that and I use a wheelchair.

  60. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:


    In practice (i.e. in court), the definition of “service dog” is very broad. There are notorious cases of service dogs who allegedly sense oncoming seizures and do….something about it; or dogs who “calm” patients, etc.

    Courts have supported the rights of these folks to take their dogs into stores, restaurants, or the public library. IMO, that’s probably fair. I’d rather err on the side of the person who needs and is receiving some sort of assistance, and thinks a dog will help, rather than impose my own judgment from my able-bodied perspective.

    Yes, some people wildly abuse the ADA by bringing pet dogs into restaurants, whether for personal edification or to support a lawsuit. But by this point, every restaurant or store manager ought to know the rules.

  61. sickofthis says:

    @muki-muki: I think we should avoid getting too hung up on the article’s use of the phrase “companion animal.” The reporter may have meant it generically without knowing it’s a legal term of art in the ADA interpretations.

    Also, those who think that wheelchair users are setting restaurants up for ADA lawsuits need to know that monetary damages are not available under Title III of the ADA. Only injunctive relief is available.

  62. clickable says:


    Were you joking, or did you know that there are miniature ponies that are used as service animals, for reals?

    Check it out: They help visually-impaired people. They’re about knee-high, and they’re absolutely adorable.

  63. cde says:

    @tmccartney: You would think a fact-checked reporter to have caught that (or the ones checking on the facts)

    @clickable: Actually, I was just running with EtherealStrife’s joke, but damn those ponies must be a cash cow… *Inquires at opening up a franchise*

  64. trollkiller says:

    “He needs sensitivity training,” she said. “He needs more than just telling him, ‘You did a bad thing.'”

    Why does the manager need sensitivity training? He treated them like he would have any other customer trying to bring in a pet. This dog is not a service dog, he is a companion dog. In other words he is a pet. Should the manager have bent the rules because the child is crippled? Pets are not allowed in restaurants due to health codes. The manager followed the health codes.

    Companion dogs are not covered by the ADA and making an exception because the kid is a “poor cripple” is just condescending as hell.

    I suggest the parents get the proper gear for the dog, if it is a service dog, so it will be recognized. Either that or leave the pet at home. Up to this point they have successfully bent the rules all over town, now they are shocked when they get called on it.

    At the worst this was a case of a manager not knowing the law. I place that blame on corporate. (assuming it is a real service animal and not a companion)

    At the best it was just a miscommunication because the dog was not properly “dressed”.

    In either case the manager should not have lost his job. Nowhere in the article did it say the manager was rude or unprofessional. He just would not budge.

  65. witeowl says:

    Assuming that the dog was wearing a vest (because the whole situation changes if not), this seems to be the major problem: The teen isn’t (apparently) blind, and most people think that seeing eye dogs are the only service dogs around.

    You won’t believe how many times a hearing-impaired coworker is questioned on her hearing dog even though he’s always fully dressed in his assistance animal vest.

    A relative who also has a service/companion dog primarily for emotional well being (she has severe panic attacks) is also questioned often. However, she’s never had a problem beyond lower level employees. I’m not saying he should have lost his job, but managers should always be trained in ADA policies.

  66. Saboth says:

    So…it sounds like the guy lost his job over this? “the manager has been replaced”. That’s pretty messed up. So, she didn’t get to let her dog to eat scraps at the table, and he lost the means to support his family…

    Sorry for your disability, but the manager is the one that got screwed in this one.

  67. jenl1625 says:

    @Saboth: It’s not about “letting the dog eat scraps at the table”, it’s about having a trust relationship with the dog. She can’t talk, and whether the dog is a fully-certified service animal or not, she needs to be able to rely on that dog to be fully focussed on her and be receptive to what she’s feeling or signalling. That kind of relationship will suffer (which could lead to serious problems for her) if the dog is being left out in the car every time some restaurant manager just doesn’t feel like accommodating your needs.
    (And I’ve never seen anyone feed a service animal scraps in a restaurant or cafeteria – there are mealtimes for the dog, and anticipating table scraps would be a massive cause of distraction.)

    And replaced doesn’t necessarily mean fired – it means he’s not the manager at that restaurant. Maybe he got fired, maybe he got demoted, maybe he was made manager of a different location.

  68. hexychick says:

    @Saboth: Try reading the article before making comments. The family didn’t want the guy fired. That’s a TGIF issue and “replaced” could mean transferred, relocated, moved, etc. It does not equate being terminated. As a manager, he should be trained on this stuff. Don’t give the family a hard time about this one because they didn’t make a huge scene, didn’t sue Fridays, and didn’t make this a huge issue. Other patrons left when they saw what happened, so maybe one of them reported it to the local news or something. Also, your scraps comment is flat out ignorant. Clearly this has never been an issue in your life or someone in your family or you wouldn’t have said something so blatantly stupid. Service animals are the best trained and most obedient animals you can find. Their entire purpose is to serve their owner. Giving scraps of food at the table isn’t good training.

  69. trollkiller says:

    @hexychick: Fired, demoted or moved. In any case this manager’s job has changed because he followed the rules and would not let a pet into the restaurant.

    The dog is a pet, nothing more. How do I know it is a pet, just look at the article. The reporter was going for the pity angle.

    We have bad weather:
    “they had to trudge back out into the snow and rain”

    We have lovable animal:
    “help dog Dawn, Laura’s best friend”

    We have helpless cripple:
    “Laura, who suffered a brain injury a decade ago and can no longer walk or talk, uses a golden retriever, Dawn, to help her.”

    What we DON’T have is what the dog does to help Laura. Why doesn’t the reporter inform us of that? Because the dog does not do anything extraordinary. Why doesn’t the article tell us why the child NEEDS this dog at a restaurant? Because she doesn’t.

    Corporate rolled over on this poor manager because who wants to go up against a cripple at Christmas time. The manager did get screwed on this deal.

    If the dog is a service dog then it needs to be dressed as a service dog. I will bet if the dog had on its vest there would have never been a problem.

  70. jenl1625 says:

    @trollkiller: Trollkiller, one lazy reporter (or a reporter that is assigned the “human interest” beat rather than a “news” beat, and you’re ready to assume that a family with a teenager who has been unable to speak for 10 years is winging it with a big family pet? That they haven’t obtained a true service animal or had a suitable animal trained and certified? That they are just a bunch of lunks who happen to have the relevant informational cards but can’t be bothered to put the dog in the appropriate vest?

    I think your assumptions in this case say more about your opinion of people than about what can be assumed from the article.

  71. AssistanceDogAdvocate says:

    Assistance Dogs / Service Dogs are not required to wear vests, capes, harnesses, nor any other special type of equipment. Nor are these dogs required to carry any type of special ID. This is per the ADA and the governing agency the Dept. of Justice.

    Many Assistance / Service Dogs wear plain buckle collars and regular leashes.

    If in doubt that the dog is a true Assistance/Service Dog the management may ask the following 3 questions of the handler:
    1) Are you Disabled?
    2) Is that a trained Assistance / Service Dog?
    3) What trained task does your dog do for you?

    A trained task is one that is taught to the dog to mitigate the disability of the handler. It can not be something that the dog does naturally just because it is a dog. Giving comfort is not a trained task since that is something that we expect any pet to do. The task must have a reason and use. There is no reason to take a dog out into the public whose only training is to wake its handler up when the alarm clock goes off. A dog that has only been trained to pick up dropped items does not qualify if the handler is deaf but is able to bend down and pick up their own items.

    A true working dog does not eat while on the job nor do they visit with passersby. They should be almost invisible while working.

    The reason I refer to these dogs as Assistance Dogs or Service Dogs is because both terms are legal. The ADA refers to them as Service Dogs but since other types of working dogs may be refered to as Service Dogs (such as some law enforcement agencies call their K-9s “Service Dogs”) there are some who refer to those dogs who work for a person with a disability as an Assistance Dog.

  72. trollkiller says:

    @jenl1625: You mean an information card like this one that I found in less than a minute? []

    For just $5 you too can take your pet out to dinner.

    I think your presumption that it was a lazy reporter not getting all the facts is a bit far fetched. Even a lazy reporter would have told us how the dog helps the girl. It is paramount to the story to prove how heartless the manager was. I think the reporter left out the information because they knew the claim the dog helps the kid was weak.

    I try to base my opinion on what I can gather by looking at the whole picture. It would have been real easy to just to jump on the “hang the manager by the short hairs” bandwagon.

  73. trollkiller says:

    @AssistanceDogAdvocate: Good info. Thanks

  74. witeowl says:

    Although they are somewhat controversial in some circles, here is some information on Psychiatric Service Animals.

  75. RvLeshrac says:


    Meh. The first time I ever saw a service dog, the owner *SCREAMED* bloody murder and then yelled at me for ten minutes after I reached to pet it. So they can screw themselves, quite frankly. I’ve seen plenty of disabled people with service animals act in the same asinine way toward others since then.

    Most of us don’t come into daily contact with them, so we don’t know anything about them. A simple “HEY! Don’t do that! He/She’s a service animal” would suffice, but instead people get treated to a long, drawn-out, loud lecture that just embarrases and angers them.

    I have plenty of sympathy for the disabled, but not when they act stupid. I’ve had so many of them chastise me for holding doors, offering to give them a hand with ramps, and other things I’d offer to do for even a… ‘normally-abled’ older person or anyone with an injury that requires crutches…

    That said, it *appears* that everything was in order here but, unfortunately, I can’t simply assume that the family was very calm and explained the animal’s presence.

  76. trollkiller says:

    @RvLeshrac: I have had the same type of problem with a few “chip on the shoulder” handicap folks. I found the best thing to do is tell them to STFU just like I would any other person.

  77. AssistanceDogAdvocate says:

    “and then yelled at me for ten minutes after I reached to pet it.”

    It gets very frustrating for a PWD to have to tell people not to touch their dog, but there is no reason for someone to throw such a bad display of temper. An Assistant/Service Dog should never be spoken to, petted, or given something to eat without the direct permission of their handler. If the dog responds to someone such as sniffing at offered food, walking toward someone who calls it, or stopping for a pet, it must then be corrected by the handler at once.

    While taking out dogs into the public for various training, proofing, or reworking, it is shocking at how a great many people respond. Some dogs wear capes or vests which clearly state that they are not to be petted, but there always seems to be someone that thinks they are exempt from this. Older teen boys and young men are the worse in showing off to their peers by barking at a working dog. I’m not sure why, but they seem to think it is a macho thing to bark at and tease the dogs. Parents will send their young children over to pet the cute doggie without a care that a child should never be encouraged to go pet any strange dog for their own safety. Assistant/Service Dogs are kicked at or have shopping carts run into them because someone doesn’t think they should be present.

    Yes, a PWD does sometimes face many frustrations when out in public. Sometimes it seems to them to be an endless battle in protecting their dog from people who at the least may distract their dog from its job or may in fact even try to harm their dog; but, a ten minute tirade against someone for just trying to give a little pat is way out of line. Please just remember that people with disabilities are no different than people without. There are polite and there are rude people in all segments of society.

  78. AssistanceDogAdvocate says:

    While the website that you gave a link to has a vast amount of great info there are a few points that many in the SD world, most especially the PSD world, do not agree with. There are some items that are on the trained task list such as hugging and snuggling that are not agreed with by many others, myself included. We look at these as benefits of owning a loving soft pet and would like to see these removed from several often referred to task lists since a dog does this by nature of just being a dog. There is no training involved in a pet allowing you to love on it.

    Currently the ADA of 1990 is being looked at by a group in Congress for possible updating. Some of the items under consideration are to clarify the terms that have come into use since the Act was signed well over a decade ago and also some clarification on trained tasks.

  79. chalicechick says:

    As a former reporter, I hate to tell you this, but most newspapers don’t have dedicated “Fact checkers.”

    Maybe the biggest ones do, but I really doubt the local paper in Wheeling, West Virginia does.

    I don’t know the difference between a pet and a companion animal, but I would be inclined to give someone in a wheelchair the benefit of a doubt. (Especially since the employee’s statement about how the girl “already had someone to help her” indicated that the employee also believed that the service dog helped her, as the extra people would have been irrelevant otherwise.)

    According to the ex-TGI Fridays employee who posted upthread, the manager violated company policy.

    End of story.


  80. AssistanceDogAdvocate says:

    “I don’t know the difference between a pet and a companion animal, but I would be inclined to give someone in a wheelchair the benefit of a doubt. “

    Many working and even non-working dog people for that matter, look at the term “Companion Dog” as just another way to say pet dog. The mix-up comes from some agencies using the term “Trained Companion Dog” to mean a dog that has been given basic household obedience and also a task or two to help someone out. A trained companion dog can be of use to say an elderly owner who has trouble bending down to pick up a dropped item or possibly trained to go to an item such as a cordless phone or the TV remote and bring it back to the owner. Since these owners are not disabled under the guidelines of the ADA their dogs are not nor will they ever be an Assistant/Service Dog. These owners do not have Public Access rights with their dogs and are not able to take them anywhere that any other well behaved pet dog is not allowed. These trained companion dogs are nothing more then pets who have had more then normal pet training put on them.

    Now we come to the part that really can cause a problem with how terms are used and people’s understanding of these terms. We come to the “Skilled Companion Dog”.

    A quote from the website of the agency, Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), that trained this particular dog: “Sometimes the partnership involves a parent, spouse, aide or partner. These helpers, called facilitators, are also involved in the Team Training process, so that they can learn handling skills and concepts along with the student. These teams are called Skilled Companion Teams.”

    CCI themselves make a distinct division between their Service Dogs and their Skilled Companion Dogs. One of their requirements in which program to enter into is summed up with this quote: “Individuals must be at least 15 years old to apply for the Service Team program and at least 5 years old to apply for the Skilled Companion program.” They also have a place on their application for a Service Dog where the name of someone who could be a facilitator for their team is to be listed. This is for candidates for a dog who may even be over the age of 15 as in their words, “CCI can help determine whether a facilitator may be necessary.”

    These are some of the things that we hope can be clarified by additions to the ADA of 1990. If the professionals in the field and the handlers of the dogs are in major disagreement over what different terms mean and what is covered under the ADA and the later messages from the Dept. of Justice, you can see how it is more perplexing for business owners and the average person in the community.

  81. trollkiller says:

    @chalicechick: As a reporter would you have omitted what the dog does to help the girl?

  82. chalicechick says:

    Given that the representatives have admitted that what the manager did was wrong even if it was a “companion” dog*, I don’t see how it’s relevant.

    And even if I did write that, my editor might have cut it out if HE didn’t think it was relevant. (Reporters and editors disagree on relevance frequently, particularly when the editor is cutting details because he has to fit the story into a certain amount of space.)

    Also, if I had asked and the answer was “Oh, the dog doesn’t physically help me, I just like to have her around,” I would have written that. Because it would make people like you indignant and outraged and indignance and outrage sells papers and makes the publisher happy.

    Now had TGI Fridays made the argument that it wasn’t a service animal so they were justified in not letting it in, I would certainly have written about exactly what the dog did, because then the question of whether or not the dog is a service animal is relevant. (Though I would have also asked why the fact that the disabled girl “already had someone to help her” mattered unless the dog would be helping her otherwise.)

    who just noticed that the story took place in Wheeling, IL, not Wheeling, WV. Either way, no paper with the word “suburban” in its title has dedicated “fact checkers.”

    *Also, I doubt I would have had the foresight to look up the subtleties of what constitutes a companion animal, service animal, etc, particularly since, again, both sides have agreed that it was a violation of company policy whether or not the dog was merely a companion animal.

  83. chalicechick says:

    @chalicechick: Clarification:
    By “it was a violation of company policy” I mean “Not accomodating the girl and her dog” was a violation of company policy.

  84. witeowl says:

    @ASSISTANCEDOGADVOCATE Certainly many disagree with much of what’s there. That’s what makes it controversial. ;-)

    OTOH, with a close relative who suffers panic attacks in such a way that her major life activities were significantly affected, I have to say that having a trained service dog can be a significant factor in regaining some sort of “normalcy” for people wth psychiatric disabilities. The fact that her dog’s primary function is to give comfort, because she’s otherwise fairly ablebodied, should not be cause to deny her access to a necessary support.

    The purpose of the ADA is to allow people with disabilities to live typical lives, as much as possible. I don’t believe that that is limited to people with physical impairments.

  85. dantsea says:

    Regardless of the wank, the fact remains that the staff of a restaurant are likely not trained or qualified to assess the support needs of the disabled, nor accept the burden of liability should something go comically/tragically wrong as a result of their assessments. And that’s likely why the TGI manager was fired.

  86. AssistanceDogAdvocate says:

    “I don’t believe that that is limited to people with physical impairments.”

    No, neither do I. Two of my best friends have working PSDs. I only stated that many of us do not believe that a dog licking the handler or allowing itself to be hugged should be on a trained task list. There is no training involved in these activities. To be a true Service Dog they must be trained to mitigate their partner’s psychiatric disability. To stay in the guidelines of the ADA and the DOJ the dog must perform a task (trained, not something the dog does naturally such as licking its owner) that the human partner can not do for themself in a major life function.

    Some things that PSDs can do for their handlers, and this list is just from people that I know, is bring medication and a bottle of water when the handler is unable to function and get their own, alert the owner when the owner needs to quit what they are doing and rest or eat, help the human partner who because of their medication is unstable on their feet, guide their handler to a safe place when the person is having a panic attack, reassure the handler — by performing a check and coming back to the owner and giving a trained response — that there is no danger in entering a room or their home after being gone. These dogs may also be trained to bring the telephone or if the handler is unable to make a call press an emergency call button or in some cases go summon help from a predetermined person.

    A Psychiatric Service Dog is a true Service Dog and as such must follow the same laws as all other Assistance Dogs.

  87. AssistanceDogAdvocate says:

    “the fact remains that the staff of a restaurant are likely not trained or qualified to assess the support needs of the disabled”

    So very very true. Legally the only person who can determine if a person meets the qualification of disabled under the ADA or that their dog is in fact a true Assistance Animal is a judge. So while a business owner or employee can only ask if a person is disabled and not what their disability is a judge may ask for witness testimony and documents proving the person’s disability. A business owner or employee can only ask if the dog is an Assistance / Service Dog (yes or no) and then ask what the dog does for the PWD in gerneral terms. A judge can ask for proof of training on the dog and then demand the dog to demonstrate its trained tasks on the spot. It would be at this point that a dog whose sole function is to stand still and allow its owner to hug it would not bode well for the owner trying to prove the dog’s status of a Service Dog in a court of law.

    But getting back to the topic of this article, the manager or staff should have seated the group and waited on them as they would have any other group. They can not ask for any proof such as an ID on the dog or a certificate stating that the dog is an Assistance Dog. They can not decide if the PWD is in need of the dog’s assistance since there are other people in the group. The law does not give them that authority. Their only concern should have been if the dog became disruptive or presented a threat to staff or customers. At that point they would have been within the law to require the dog to be taken out.

  88. RvLeshrac says:


    Yes, but the restaurant owner has other problems to consider. An animal in the restaurant can be considered a health hazard – a helper animal is, for some reason, not. Do you risk having lawsuits and losing your restaurant because someone decides to report you for allowing an animal in, or do you risk having lawsuits and losing your restaurant because you didn’t allow an animal in?

    Unfortunately, the ADA does absolutely nothing to help this situation.

    It is also, of course, unclear if the ADA has done anything to help anyone (with anything other than obtaining massive sums of cash) at any time.


  89. sibertater says:

    It’s great that we have so many laws and regulations, but who is there to enforce them? Do you call the ADA Police? Do they show up and run over people’s feet with their wheelchairs? No. You do exactly what these people did and you have to be embarrassed and eat crow and leave. I think that I would have left as well…that’s just douchetastic!

    In other news, when I was in Canada there was a woman with a cane and some sort of foot deformity that was complaining that the sidewalk we were on wasn’t ADA compliant. Um, yeah…we’re in Canada.

  90. chalicechick says:

    ((But who is there to enforce them?)))

    There can be lawsuits, but mostly what enforces them is the free market. Recall from the story how some of the TGI Fridays customers got up and left. TGI Fridays corporate knows that appearing to be mean to a handicapped girl makes them look bad and people will eat someplace else.

    And FWIW, in response to RVLESHRAC, health codes pretty much universally contain exceptions for service animals and even when they don’t, Federal Law trumps local law anyway. So that’s not at all actionable.


  91. AssistanceDogAdvocate says:

    “Unfortunately, the ADA does absolutely nothing to help this situation.
    It is also, of course, unclear if the ADA has done anything to help anyone (with anything other than obtaining massive sums of cash) at any time”

    The ADA is not an agencey or any type of organization. The ADA was a law passed by Congress, the American Disability Act of 1990. This law is under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) with responsibilites divided up between various Federal agencies such as the DOJ, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EOCC), the Dept. of Transportation (DOT), the Dept. of Education (ED), the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), and others.

    To speak with the Hotline that was set up by the DOJ for General Information & Technical Assistance or information about filing a complaintyou can call 800 – 514 – 0301 (voice) or 800 – 514 – 0383 (TTY).

  92. RvLeshrac says:


    I don’t recall ever implying that the ADA was an agency or an organization.

    Laws can ‘do things’ too, you know.