BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — A Brownsville woman claims a restaurant she has been going to for years recently turned her away due to her service pet.
Following the incident, both she and the restaurant have filed police reports against each other.
“One of the reasons I use Chase with me when I go on my own is he distracts me from not losing consciousness of what’s going on,” Sylvia Rodriguez,
Juanita Rodriguez suffers from lupus, arthritis, and cognitive impairment and takes her service animal with her everywhere to stay alert.
Texas law requires public facilities to admit a person accompanied by a service dog, with no documentation required.
But Rodriguez says the owner of Sylvia’s Restaurant recently turned her away, despite the fact she had been going for years with her animal without problems.
“We went to the restaurant, me and my son and chase because we had been out and about all day,” she said. “ I knocked on the door, because you have to knock for them to let you in, and she came to the door and she says, ‘can I help you?’ I say, ‘yes, is it open?’ she says ‘yes.’
“I said I wanted to go in she says ‘you can go, but you can’t take the dog with you.’”
Restaurant owner Javier Almanza denies she was turned away and says it was just a misunderstanding. He says his wife, who just started at the restaurant, was unaware of the law so she told Rodriguez to wait while she sought information on whether animals must be admitted.
“It’s not that we were refusing service,” he said. “Just my wife didn’t know the guidelines. That’s all it is. She could’ve waited a little longer and we could’ve gotten to the bottom of it.”
He claims Rodriguez was not cooperating and created a scene.
“We made a report on it also we called the police because she was very belligerent,” Almanza said.
Rodriguez has also filed a police report and plans on filing a discrimination complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Almanza says they have not encountered other service animals in their 20 years of owning the restaurant.