Man With Guide Dog Kicked Out Of Popeyes, Told ‘No Pets Allowed’

Image courtesy of CBS New York

Guide dogs and other service dogs are not pets, and federal law protects their right to go anywhere that their owners are allowed to be. Yet the owner of a Popeyes restaurant in Brooklyn wasn’t clear on that concept, and used the “no pets” policy to kick a blind man and aspiring chicken-orderer out of the establishment.

Service animals don’t need to carry any kind of identification or special tags: indeed, there are no official registries, and there is no government-issued tag or ID.

Service animals can help people with disabilities that are visible to strangers, like blindness, deafness, and mobility limitations. They can also help with medical problems that are not visible to strangers, like diabetes, seizures, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

That’s why it took the man by surprise when the owner of a local Popeyes franchise told him to leave. Even when a police officer showed up to explain how the laws concerning service animals work, the owner maintained that it was his property, and dogs weren’t allowed in the restaurant.

He told CBS New York that he didn’t even know whether the customer was really blind. “We have to protect ourselves too,” he said in a phone interview. “I mean, the man walked in with a dog, no tags on the dog, no nothing.” The owner wears sunglasses indoors and the dog was wearing a guide dog harness, but that apparently wasn’t enough.

Popeyes is a franchised business, and other restaurants don’t apply this same standard. CBS even talked to the manager of another nearby Popeyes, and she was familiar with the laws and how service dogs are allowed inside the restaurant.

Popeyes corporate sent the station a statement, saying:

Thank you for making us aware of this guest’s concern. We welcome every guest at Popeyes and want everyone to have the best experience possible, and franchises are required to follow all federal, state and local regulations. The manager and owner of this restaurant are trying to work with this guest to address the concerns directly.

Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA [U.S. Department of Justice]