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Restaurant refuses to seat Marine veteran because of his service-dog-in-training

Feb. 20, 2014 - 09:15PM   |  
Former Marine Don Brown was told to leave a restaurant because he brought his dog, Truman. The Doberman is in training to be certified as Brown's service animal.
Former Marine Don Brown was told to leave a restaurant because he brought his dog, Truman. The Doberman is in training to be certified as Brown's service animal. (Courtesy of Don Brown)
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Truman, a Doberman, helps wake up former Marine Don Brown when he experiences nightmares. Brown was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. (Courtesy of Don Brown)

A Marine Corps veteran says he was told to leave a Texas restaurant because he brought his dog in training to be certified as his service animal.

“I take my dog a lot of places, so I don’t really look for permission anymore because I’ve never had any problems,” Don Brown, of Spring Texas, told Marine Corps Times on Thursday. “I’ve had one or two people make a comment, but I tell him it’s a service dog and that’s the end of it.”

But on Wednesday when Brown took his Doberman, Truman, to the River Side Inn Marina in Channelview, Texas, a waitress said she needed to check to see if she could seat him because dogs are not allowed in the restaurant.

After several minutes, a man emerged from a back office and yelled from across the bar, “Can you see?” Brown said. Taken aback, Brown said “Excuse me?” and the man asked again if Brown had the sense of sight.

“So I asked him what his name was and he told me his name and told me that I was catching an attitude and that I needed to leave,” Brown said. “I’m a pretty non-confrontational kind of guy. At that point, I said, ‘Really because of your attitude, we are going to leave. This is wrong.’ ”

One of Brown’s friends called a local TV news station about what happened, and KPRC Local 2 in Houston reported the incident on Wednesday.

“I honestly didn’t want it to go this far,” Brown said. “My whole reason for even talking to the news was so that somebody else didn’t have to go through this. You run into ignorance every once and awhile.”

Marine Corps Times called the River Side Inn Marina on Thursday. A man answering the phone said, “We have no comment.”

Brown provided Marine Corps Times with a copy of his DD-214, which says he served in the Marine Corps from 1986 to 1994. He received an honorable discharge and left the service as a sergeant. After the leaving the Marine Corps, Brown was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress stemming from his experiences in the Gulf War, he said.

He has had Truman for about eight months. The dog’s training includes taking him out in public. On Wednesday, the man at the restaurant got right up in Brown’s face, so Truman did his job of getting between Brown and the danger.

“He wakes me up from my nightmares, which is how he helps me at home,” Brown said. “I generally didn’t go out very much anymore. I haven’t worked in 24 months because I’ve just seem to have developed a lot of social anxieties, and so Truman helps me go out and not be always on high alert. I can relax and kind of enjoy life a little bit.”

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