Her name is Juliette. “She is a long-haired Dachshund, and she has been with me almost 5 years now,” said Richard Andrews.
This dog is his lifeline. “I can’t go anywhere without her. I wouldn't even like to try. I need her.” So, last Wednesday, when Juliette wasn’t allowed into a North Dallas restaurant, neither was Richard. “Pretty much immediately the guy behind the counter told me I couldn’t be in there with my dog.”
They have a very special relationship. “She’s kind of my baby girl and my babysitter all at once. Technically, she is a medical alert and assistance dog. I have bipolar disorder coupled with anxiety and severe depression," said Andrews.
He said Juliette’s special vest was on and he tried to explain she was a service dog, not a pet. It was to no avail. “There wasn’t anything discreet about it. It was basically get out of here," he said.
Dallas police said even after they came out and explained the Americans with Disabilities Act to the manager, service was still refused. But there’s also a relatively new state law that says turning away someone with a service dog can precipitate criminal penalties. So why didn’t the responding officer pursue that? DPD said it is checking into the matter.
Meantime, WFAA took the matter straight to Ayad Barzani, the owner of Angelo & Vito’s Pizzeria on Frankford. “I never heard about the service dog. I didn’t know. First of all, I want to apologize to him,” Barzani said.
That’s a start said Rhonda Cates. “It could certainly be handled in a manner that doesn’t involve a lawsuit if the restaurant responds appropriately," said Cates. She’s an attorney helping Richard. They’re not after money. Richard said simply, “I just…want to be treated like another human being.” They want people educated, so this doesn’t keep happening.
WFAA asked Barzani if all his employees are now up on the laws. “After that day, yes," he said.
Richard and Juliette are invited back to Angelo & Vito’s. That meal, agrees Barzani, is on him. “I really want to see him again and apologize again. I even want to hug his dog just to make him happy, you know," said Barzani.