WALLACE, N.C. (WNCT) – A woman says she was targeted at a Duplin County restaurant because of her service dog.
Katie Adams contacted 9 On Your Side after visiting Sensation Farmhouse Restaurant in Wallace.
Adams says before she sat down at the table, she noticed two employees talking and looking at her from across the room.
“I walked in and since it’s a buffet you pay before you sit,” she said. “We were starting to pay and I noticed a gentleman and another staff person sitting at a back table and they were talking very animatedly.”
Adams has owned her service dog Ronan for four years. She was in a severe car accident that left her disabled. Ronan helps her live a more normal life.
“The manager, I assume, came towards me and immediately started demanding paperwork and my dog’s license,” Adams said. “‘I need to see papers and the license on that dog,’ is what he said. By law, you can’t do that.”
Under the American with Disabilities Act, business owners can only ask two things: is it a service dog and what tasks does it perform? Service dogs are allowed in any establishment and owners aren’t required to produce paperwork. A service animal can only be turned away if it’s acting unruly.
Embarrassed and angry, Adams asked for her money back and left. Then she reached out to us.
WNCT visited Sensation Farmhouse Restaurant on Wednesday and asked to speak with the manager and owner about the incident. The employee who approached Adams denies her allegations and says he only asked if it was a service dog. He declined to go on camera. We called the owner and sent a text message as well. She never returned our call.
Adams says incidents like this one happen far too often because folks aren’t educated about service animals. She hopes her situation will shed some light.
“I just want people to understand that he’s there for a reason,” she said. “If they have a question please ask, but ask it respectfully.”
Of course, there are some folks who try to pass their pets off as service animals. They face fines and federal fraud charges for doing so.
You can find more information about service animals under the ADA by clicking here.