A legally blind man was humiliated after he was told to leave a restaurant in Canada because he had his guide dog with him.
Phil Bobawsky was flying to Calgary with his guide dog, Finnegan, over the weekend and was early for his flight when he decided to get something to eat at the Edmonton Eskimos Sports Bar at the International Airport in Edmonton.
Finnegan – who wears a sign saying “Guide dogs for the blind” – took Mr Bobawsky to a spot they normally sit in when he was approached by a staff member – and someone he thought was in charge – who told him he couldn’t be served there because he had a pet with him, Canada-based CBC reports.
After explaining the dog was actually not a pet but a service animal, Mr Bobawsky was still told he couldn’t eat there despite being within his legal rights based on the Blind Persons’ Rights Act in Alberta and the Service Dogs Act.
Another person from Royal Canadian Mounted Police came up to him and again told him he would have to leave.
“I said, ‘You realise this is a violation of human rights?’ and he had no idea what I was talking about,” Mr Bobawsky said.
Fed up with the situation, Bobawsky went and waited for his flight.
While standing near the gate, the officer approached Mr Bobawsky again along with another officer and asked for his boarding pass and identification, telling him again that Health Canada regulations prevented him from being in the restaurant with Finnegan.
“I said, ‘Can’t you see that this is a certified service dog and that it’s a guide dog and I’m blind?’ and then the second officer said, ‘Oh I didn’t see that,’ ” Mr Bobawsky said.
They returned his documentation and told him to have a nice day, he said.
“When I’m humiliated and not spoken to respectfully, that put me over the edge,” he said. “It’s a fundamental human rights issue.”
- Furious paramedics protest decision not to jail women who beat ambulance worker
- Teen fighting for life after being hit by a truck
- ‘How can can this happen in broad daylight?’: Car overturns on freeway in shock video
According to an RCMP spokesperson, the officers didn’t ask Mr Bobawsky to leave the restaurant.
“There are often contradictory versions of events,” she said. “Our members are aware that a service dog or guide dog can be in the restaurant.”
Mr Bobawsky added that it isn’t the first time an incident like this has happened. He has been refused service three times at restaurants there in the past year.
A spokesperson for the restaurants at the airport called the incident “a misunderstanding.”
“There was a lot of confusion in the staff, what they should and shouldn’t do,” the spokesperson said.