GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A western Michigan bar has apologized for asking a veteran and his service dog to leave the establishment.
Jerome Smith was asked to leave The Holiday Bar in Grand Rapids on Friday. Smith said he uses his service dog, Jo-Jo, to manage post traumatic stress disorder from his time as a Marine.
“I explained to them, ‘That’s not legal. That’s not right. You can’t do that,'” Smith said.
The Americans with Disabilities Act allows a person with a disability to bring a service animal into businesses that serve the public. Businesses can ask a service animal to leave if they believe the animal’s behavior may threaten the health or safety of others.
Bar staff said they were concerned for the safety of the dog and others in the crowded bar. The bar later posted an apology on its Facebook page and said it will donate all of its sales from Nov. 12 to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. The bar said it hopes the donation will help raise awareness about the importance of service animals.
“Although the decisions that were that night were made out of concern for all involved, it is clear that the wrong decisions were made,” the bar said in the post. “For this we are deeply sorry, we know we can’t change what happened but are hopeful we can learn from this.”
Service dogs are different from pets or comfort animals because “they are specially trained to perform tasks or work for a specific individual with a disability who cannot perform the task or accomplish the work independently,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.