Bar Kicks Out Veteran On Veterans Day Weekend Because He Had Service Dog - Company Responds

A veteran had his service dog because of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but the bar manager kicked him out for it.

Grand Rapids, Michigan – A Michigan Marine veteran was kicked out of a bar on the eve of Veteran’s Day because he had his service dog with him that helps him deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Jerome Smith was at Holiday Bar with about 10 Marines to celebrate the birthday of the United States Marines Corp when the general manager of the bar told him his service dog JoJo had to leave.

The general manager said there were concerns if someone stepped on the dog, the dog may bite a customer, according to MLive.com.

David Dame Jr. was at the bar and saw the incident and posted about it on Facebook.

“The holiday bar just refused service to a marine and service dog tonight while we stopped in to celebrate,” Dame wrote in his post.

“Asked to leave by management. If any of my friends frequent this bar please stop. And please share and go viral. Obviously they care not for why service animals do for our veterans or any one in that matter that may need them. Wish I could tag everyone.”

When word got out of how the bar treated Smith, they posted an apology.

The Holiday Bar posted an apology on its own Facebook page on Nov. 12.

“We had a very unsettling incident late Friday evening at our establishment that we are ashamed of and very sorry for,” the Holiday Bar post read.

“Some of you may have heard bits and pieces and or have been made aware of this. Although the decisions that were that night were made out of concern for all involved, it is clear that the wrong decisions were made.

"For this we are deeply sorry, we know we can’t change what happened but are hopeful we can learn from this. We employ men of armed services, both active and ex, and have nothing but upmost respect and admiration for them and all that serve.

"On behalf of all at the holiday Bar we would like to express our deepest apologies for all the pain this has caused. In light of all the pain this has caused we will be donating 100% of all of our sales today to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, we know this doesn’t change what happened, but maybe it will be a cause for reflection in our own hearts if nothing else.”

Smith’s reply on Dame’s post explains why he told MLive.com the bar’s apology was little more than “damage control.”

In the post, Smith said he brought all his papers with him because he said he’s used to “ignorant people refusing me service or somehow blaming me or accusing me of misbehavior as their justification for removal. I’m prepared for situations like this.”

Smith wrote that when he showed the general manager his credentials for the service dog, the general manager waved his hand in Smith’s face, crossed his arms, shook his head and refused to look at the dog or the credentials.

Smith wrote that the general manager said, “I don’t care what you have. It’s private property. You have to leave.” Smith said the general manager went around and told all the staff to refuse him service.

"The way I was treated was so disrespectful," Smith, 35, told MLive. "I want to give them a chance to grow and make this right."

Smith said he wants the Holiday Bar to sponsor a service dog through This Able Veteran. That’s the same organization that gave him his service dog, JoJo, five years ago, according to the news site.

A sponsorship costs about $25,000. The dog receives 12 months of training before being paired with a veteran. Then the veteran comes to stay at the nonprofit in Illinois for a month for training with the dog.

Do you think that Smith is asking for too much, or is it the right thing to do? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.

No, Jerome Smith is not asking for too much. The ignorance of the GM is egregious and the apology is not sincere. Service dogs have been in existence long enough that everyone should show respect for them and their handler.

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I agree with skeeter. I do object to people pretending that their little teacup Chihuahua is a service dog when its owner bring it into a supermarket. But I'm fine with real service dogs.

No, he's not asking too much of this business. If they can't afford the full cost, they can ask a few other bar owners to go in with them to sponsor a service dog. I'm not a veteran, but I do suffer from PTSD due to the deaths of all of my family within a short period of time & multiple other traumatic incidents within a very short timeframe & I know how critical my dog is to me in order to function on a daily basis. People who've never gone through extreme traumas have no idea how crippling it is. A service dog makes the difference between life & death for many of us.

I'm torn here. It really isn't the bar's fault but the manager that night. I think a better solution would be the manager volunteering to work with a veterans association.

I think it's a perfectly reasonable request. If you count "untrained" animals, service animals have been around for thousands of years. Time this idiot caught up with that and well past time he started showing our vets a lot more respect.

I thought it was illegal to NOT allow service dogs in any situation(?) I might be wrong but isn’t that a no no with the Americans with Disabilities Act? Or something like that(?)

The bar was wrong no question about it but as far as a $25 G sponsorship? Maybe if this is a chain it’s a good thing but if it’s a privately owned establishment having to come up with 25 Grand could put them out of business. I think the donation of 100% of sales for a day was at least a great good will gesture and an adequate apology. I work in a hospital and we have people trying to pull things on us all the time with “service” cats, birds, etc. so, there are people out there that are ruining it for those that genuinely need these wonderful, wonderful dogs. In this case the Marine Corp veteran had the appropriate credentials for the dog and the manager was a total ass and needs to be set straight.

Actually either way the bar is getting off light. If the veteran had called the ADA, the bar could possibly be sued by the federal government in the veterans name for breaking federal law. Most of the time it doesn't go that far, but I have seen and heard of business's being fined upwards of $75,000 for one incident.

Btw minimum fine if it comes to that is $50,000.

The GM should be fired. The service dogs have been around along time and it's well known they are allowed. It's disgusting the GM treated him that way!

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