Blind Man And Guide Dog Left 'Humiliated' When Restaurant Refused To Serve Him
A blind man was left 'humiliated, debilitated and degraded' when he and his guide dog were refused a seat in a London restaurant.
Dave Kent has relied on a guide dog for the last 40 years - he was left completely blind at the age of 18 after an operation to improve his sight went catastrophically wrong.
Dave and his current guide dog, four-year-old Chad, went to Franco Manca in the capital on Tuesday for lunch but were turned away by staff who said the dog would not be allowed in the restaurant.
The 58-year-old, who was going to a business meeting, told LADbible that he was wearing a Guide Dogs polo shirt and sunglasses while Chad wore his usual white handle which reads: 'Please don't disturb me, I'm working'.
Dave, who is an engagement officer for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, said: "It's shocking, it breaks my heart. Forty years I've been a guide dog owner - a loving, devoted guide dog owner - and when this happens it leaves you feeling just humiliated, debilitated and degraded.
"All I want to do is go for lunch like thousands of other people. It becomes a major issue, it's crazy. If people could understand what it actually feels like to be told that you have to leave somewhere - you feel disgusted, you feel like a third class citizen.
"Guide dogs are provided by people's generosity, it's people that give to Guide Dogs that allow people to be mobile and move about and take their place in society.
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"Then everyday things like going to buy a loaf of bread, ordering a taxi to pick your children up from school, going to buy a pizza become an obstacle.
"Well they picked the wrong person, I'm fully aware of my rights and I wont be fobbed off with a voucher. It's the people that are timid and would go away - they need to be heard. I will not tolerate it."
But Dave doesn't blame the staff at the restaurant, he said: "I blame Franco Mancas for not giving staff the appropriate training and understanding of their legal responsibility.
"Where is the mercy, where is the understanding of people? The kindness? They can see the person is blind, the dog doesn't wear that white piece of apparatus with the handle and words 'Please don't disturb me, I'm working' for nothing."
It doesn't look like Dave will be slowing down any time soon, either. He added: "I'm a pretty confident guy, I'm out and about, I love my life. I like to know what's going on and being blind and having Chad allows me to meet people from all ages, it's amazing.
"But when things like this happen it leaves me feeling like people have torn off my flesh.
"When we watch people with a guide dog, their life just sparkles - they have this beautiful dog, full of intelligence and love, full of thousands of pounds' worth of training."
Franco Mancas said in a statement: "All service dogs are welcome in our pizzerias. This, unfortunately, is the result of an error from individual staff members in one restaurant.
"We are taking the relevant steps to ensure this doesn't happen again and have spoken directly with the customer in question to apologise and ensure he knows he is welcome at any of our pizzerias."
Featured Image Credit: Dave Kent