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June 18, 2012 at 4:17 PMComments: 7 Faves: 0

McDonald's Kicks Out Man With Service Dog

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

Welcome to The Kibble – the news blog for dog lovers.

This week: A McDonald’s manager kicked a man with his therapy dog out of their restaurant!

When John Dignard was 5 years old he was hit by a car leaving him with a permanent brain injury. Ever since then, he has suffered from short-term memory lapse and can’t always tell what direction he should be going. Luckily, when this happens, Eve, his current service dog, guides him the right way and is there to comfort him.

John Dignard's Service Dog EveJohn and his dog had been happily eating at McDonald’s for some time. Since he was a service dog, employees didn’t mind if the dog came in to join John in for a quick bite to eat.

Sadly, many customers complained about the dog’s smell and the McDonald’s manager there finally got sick of hearing them. 

"Your dog stinks and everybody is writing letters to me. I'm tired of it and I want you to leave."

This is what John said the manager told him.

Of course, Dignard was appalled when he heard this. He even had a government-issued certification that explained he could not be denied service anywhere because of his dog. According to Dignard, the manager still asked him to leave and told him to never come back again.

However, the owner of that particular McDonald’s had a different story. She states that Dignard was never asked to leave the restaurant and was not refused service.

"We reached out to the customer after receiving numerous customer complaints regarding the individual's behaviour and the well-being of his service animal. After approaching the customer, they voluntarily left the restaurant."

Hearing this account, John says he's sticking to his side of the story. He’s says he's not going to spend any more money at McDonald’s. Further, he’s decided to write a letter to the Human Rights Commission in hopes they’ll take some action. He believes people need to be more educated about service dogs.

"Change your attitude towards service dogs," Dignard said. "They're not pets. They're working dogs ...[even though] my handicap is invisible."

What do you think about this?

Is it illegal if they really did deny John service because of his dog?


Photo Credits:

CBS News


More from Bri Luginbill Others Are Reading


  • He should definitely not be denied service! However, if customers are finding his dog smelly, it would be considerate, on his part, to take that into consideration. I'm all for people having their rights, but don't feel that they should flaunt them all over others just because they can.

  • It is illegal what they did. I do hope they are held accountable. Also, I feel that Service Dogs should be taken very well care of, diet, exercise, playtime (when not working) and of course groomed on a regular basis. Because these dogs are in the public more often, they should be groomed on a weekly basis. A Service Dog needs TLC too!

  • I know we are all for the little guy, fighting for the underdog, and are haters of corporations, but is it possible that the owner of this restaurant was telling the truth? They received multiple complaints about the person and the well-being of his service dog. They probably kindly asked him to eat quickly and take his stanky dog outside. I understand that we cannot infringe on his rights to be able to have his dog with him, but can he infringe on mine by having to eat next to a horrible dog smell while trying to eat?

    I can see it all in my mind's eye. "Sir, your service dog is making the other customers convulse. Would you mind hurrying up and taking it outside?" (Man flips out) "They are infringing on my rights! I can take this dog anywhere I want! I am going to sue you for all your worth!" Sorry, I have a hard time believing every Joe with a beef against a major company. Most of the time these people just want their 15 minutes of fame. I'm not saying that there is not injustice done toward those with service animals. There definitely are. But how could the two stories be so different? Usually the truth lies in between, as I showed in my example. Hard to say who is right on this one. I tend to side with the level-headed store owner. But that's just me.

  • Rex - I thought the exact same thing reading this. I think the real story lies somewhere in between the two. I don't think this guy lied about being kicked out as the manager seems to be suggesting, but I also think the manager probably felt forced to take that step.
    Considering, he says that he had been eating there on a regular basis, I really don't think he can claim this is a pure case of service dog or handicap discrimination.

    Most people will ignore or not mention problems at a restaurant if they can avoid it. It's uncomfortable and it means taking the time to do it. So if multiple people were so offended they actually took the time to write out a complaint, I think that points to a pretty serious smell issue and they have a right to say the dog was not being well cared for at that point!

    People should be compassionate toward others handicaps and society should make efforts to even out the playing ground for them - but even if a normally-abled person smelled so bad at restaurant I frequent I was compelled to talk with the management there, I would hope something would be done about it.

    I just think he was really (and rightly) embarrassed and wants to make the issue about something that isn't his fault.

  • And that is exactly what I find hilarious about this, Erin. Why bring it up at all? If I was asked to leave a restaurant, because I, my family, my service animal, or anything else smelled so bad that it was making people complain, I would hide my head and quietly disappear. Why would you make a federal case out of it? I would be so embarrassed that I would probably never eat there again, just because of the stigma attached to me there.

  • I just realized this actually fits right into my Sad People/Mad People theory. :)

    ( )

    He's a mad person. When conflict occurs, he tends to react with anger because deep down he feels out of control or without the power he actually has to change things. (Which makes sense considering his handicap.) Because they're operating from a belief that life is out of their control, mad people like this tend to deflect responsibility when confronted, and unfortunately, because he already made his stand on the issue - this is THEIR problem/they are in control and this is NOT his problem/he's not in control - especially with all the attention it's received since he did, backing down now and admitting his role in the problem would be very difficult and damaging to his ego.

    This is not to say that I don't think he SHOULD recognize this or that ultimately it would be good for him, but I think I can understand where he's coming from and why he's behaved/behaving the way he did/is.

  • It is possible that the dog smelled of urine or other odors that would indicate that his owner needed to improve his care. Brain injury does predispose the individual to impaired judgement and even impaired sense of smell could occur. I have seen service dogs who needed input from the outside to advocate for them and bring issues to the attention of the dog's user. Once the dog is placed with a person, it may not be under any observation by a veterinarian or the training facility from which it came. Standards for such supervision and care vary widely, from great to none at all.
    I have seen dogs taking their drunk owners across busy streets in 100 degree Texas heat to go to the corner store for another case of beer and I have seen service dogs with extremely long toenails and matted fur, scratching furiously as though fleas were present.
    Lets hope that the issue was truly bad judgement on the part of the manager, and not neglect on the part of the owner. Physical Therapist in Texas

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