Service dogs are supposed to be able to go wherever their owners go, but it seems someone forgot to tell that to a manager of a Houlihan’s in Illinois.
Veteran Garrett Loughran, his service dog and his mother left the restaurant after they received a less-than-warm welcome just one day before Memorial Day, WGN reports.
Loughran, an Illinois native, was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan four times and now uses a 5-year-old Labradoodle named Hershey to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to WGN. Loughran’s mother said she hoped to take her son to the Houlihan’s in Algonquin, Illinois, Sunday for a pre-Memorial Day meal when they were stopped by a manager who questioned why Hershey was with them.
“He had his red cape on that said he was a service dog,” Loughran’s mother Laura Wills told WGN. “We have the papers with us, but she just said ‘Well, we allow dogs in the restaurant. What type of service does he provide?’ And my son said ‘You’re not allowed to ask that.’”
The family left and went to another restaurant, but they did share the way that they were treated at Houlihan’s.
“I expected that by this day and age that everybody knows what service dogs are,” Loughran told the news station. “They should be more accepting of veterans like me who have to have a service dog to acclimate themselves to this new world again.”
The upper management at Houlihan’s apparently agreed. A senior manager sent the family an apology, which read: “There is no apology that is sufficient in this circumstance. This is inexcusable. I will ensure this is addressed and that no other person has to endure what you and your son did today.”
In addition, the corporate office issued an official statement that said, in part, “Houlihan’s supports and appreciates all veterans and the sacrifices they have made and continue to make for this country. We have and will always allow service dogs in our restaurants.”
The manager that turned Loughran, Wills and Hershey away has reportedly been fired. In addition, Houlihan’s has pledged to donate $2,000 — the cost of training a service dog for a veteran who needs the support of one — to Pets for Vets. The situation was unfortunate, but Houlihan’s response and commitment to preventing this from happening in the future is more than commendable.