A blind man was accused of sneaking his guide dog into a Wetherspoon pub by the fire escape, he claims.
Keith Valentine visited the Royal Victoria Pavilion Wetherspoon’s pub in Ramsgate, Kent, at around 1pm on Saturday with his wife Carolyn and guide dog Dottie.
The 53-year-old has a degenerative genetic condition which caused him to go clinically blind 20 years ago, Hull Daily Mail reported.
While he says he still has some vision left, he says it is “nothing significant”.
After registering their arrival on the NHS test and trace app, Mr Valentine confirmed with staff that he was blind and asked to sit on the outdoors terrace upstairs.
The couple settled in and ordered drinks on the pub’s app and asked for some water for Dottie.
After a different member of staff returned with the dog’s water bowl, Mr Valentine claims she told them they could not have the dog in the pub with them and accused them of “sneaking in via a fire escape”.
He said he then asked to speak to the manager, who came up and also allegedly told them they would have to leave.
“Extremely shaken, my wife and I made our way downstairs via the lift and went to reception to speak with the barmaid that had advised us originally when we arrived,” Mr Valentine said.
“She told us that she had told the manager that we’d entered the premises properly, that she had identified we had an assistance dog and told us to sit where we had ordered our drinks.”
Mr Valentine then asked to speak to the manager and that member of staff together.
The manager said there had been a misunderstanding, he claimed, but still insisted that they leave.
“Customers around us witnessing what he was doing were shocked as a blind man and his guide dog were thrown out of the pub for literally no reason,” he said.
Mr Valentine said he had received no acknowledgement of his complaint since getting in touch with Wetherspoon over the weekend.
“It was like a punch in the guts, I’ve been shaken up all weekend,” he said.
“It felt like they had contempt for my disability.”
A Wetherspoon spokesperson said: “The gentleman was approached by a staff member who had seen the dog in the upstairs balcony, but could not see the harness.
“He was told that dogs were not allowed on the premises and would have to leave.
“The gentleman said he had come in the front door and had checked in.
“He then told the staff member that he was blind.
“The member of staff apologised and asked him to move inside the pub when they were ready as assistance dogs are not allowed on the upstairs balcony.
“The manager then intervened and apologised to the customer and said he believed the customer had misunderstood the situation and that he wasn’t being asked to leave, but simply to move inside the pub.
“We reiterate that assistance dogs are allowed in the pub.”
A spokeserson for Guide Dogs for the Blind said: “All blind and partially sighted people deserve to be able to live their lives the way they want and feel confident, independent and supported in the world.
2It is completely unacceptable and illegal for a business or service to refuse entry to a customer with a guide dog, yet, sadly, it happens all too often.
“Our research shows that three-quarters of guide dog owners are illegally turned away, and this discrimination is leaving people with sight loss left out of life.”