Target: Chief Charles McClelland, Houston Police Department
Goal: Review officer’s response to complaint made by a disabled man with a service dog
A restaurant in West Houston recently refused service to Aryeh Ohayon, a disabled war veteran, because of his service dog. The Thai buffet restaurant asked the US Army and Navy veteran to leave the premises or leave the dog outside while he ate. A law passed in 2013 made it illegal for public places to refuse entry to service dogs, so Ohayon called the Houston police.
Ohayon said that when an officer arrived, he demeaned the veteran’s disabilities and questioned the validity of the complaint rather than helping him. When the officer learned that the service dog was to help with Ohayon’s depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he responded by saying that Ohayon wasn’t blind and therefore the dog wasn’t necessary. The usual misdemeanor charge for refusal of service was not laid.
Ohayon’s service dog is trained to respond to signs of distress such as panic attacks or flashbacks that come with his mental illnesses. Depression and stress disorders, which stemmed from Ohayon’s 23 years in military service, are greatly helped by the presence of a psychiatric service dog. Over 80% of sufferers with service dogs see a reduction in symptoms, while nearly half are able to reduce their medication intake with the help of a companion dog for comfort.
Ohayon stated that the incident was belittling, particularly in light of his years of service upholding the Constitution of the United States. Discrimination of all disabled people, particularly veterans, and their service animals should be condemned by police rather than tolerated. Ask that the Houston Police review their response to the incident, and rectify any misconduct and inappropriate statements.
Dear Chief Charles McClelland,
Recently, when a disabled veteran was asked to leave a west Houston restaurant because of his service dog, he called the Houston police. When an officer responded, he asked about the nature of the man’s disabilities. Upon discovering that the service dog was assigned for mental illnesses, the officer openly questioned the validity of the disabilities, and whether the veteran actually needed the dog.
The veteran, Aryeh Ohayon, suffers from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder linked to his 23 years in service of the Unites States Army and Navy. The dog responds to symptoms of distress, including flashbacks and panic attacks, and helps alleviate them.
Despite the fact that it is against the law to refuse entry to service dogs, there was no misdemeanor charge laid or citation written against the restaurant. In order to protect the equal rights of disabled persons, particularly veterans, it is imperative that the Houston police respond appropriately to situations of refusal of service. I ask that the actions of the responding officer for this case be reviewed, and that wrongdoing be rectified by the Houston Police Department.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: RoFra via Creative Commons