Church's Chicken Responds To Service Dog Incident - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Church's Chicken Responds To Service Dog Incident

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Augusta, GA -

There are new developments in the case of the woman who claims she was kicked out of a local restaurant because she had a service dog with her. The incident happened Tuesday at the Church's Chicken on Walton Way in Augusta. A woman says the manager kicked her daughter and her out because of her daughter's service dog.

As we told you on Tuesday, Eva Heisch says her 4-year-old daughter requires a service dog because she has autism. So we sat down with a local service dog trainer who is knowledgeable about the Americans with Disabilities Act. He says service dogs are allowed in restaurants, but therapy dogs are not.

Southern K-9 Solutions Owner Jerry Lyda has been training service dogs for years, so he knows what rights people have when it comes to service animals.

"If it serves the public, then you have the right to go into that establishment with your service dog," Lyda says.

After watching Heisch's story on Tuesday night, Lyda says even though her dog wasn't labeled as a service dog, it sure looks like one to him.

"A service dog could be a Chihuahua. It doesn't always have to be a German Shepherd or a Labrador or anything like that," he says.

Heisch says her dog is a trained service dog that prevents her autistic 4-year-old daughter from wandering off.

"The dog will keep her out of danger. She will keep her from going into the street and walking into traffic. She will alert her when somebody is aggressively making a move towards her. She will give out a warning bark," Heisch says.

She says the Church's Chicken on Walton Way wouldn't allow her service dog in the building. According to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office incident report, the manager at Church's Chicken told deputies that Heisch never told her the animal was a service animal, but Heisch tells us a different story.

"I told them that it was a service animal and that she was allowed in there by law. That's why I have requested that Church's Chicken preserve the evidence and preserve those video tapes," Heisch says.

The HR Manager of the Church's Chicken on Walton Way sent us a statement. This is what they had to say:

"We are sorry for the confusion during Mrs. Heisch's visit to our restaurant yesterday. It is our policy to comply with State and Federal laws and to allow service animals into our restaurants. Our manager clearly did not hear or understand from Mrs. Heisch that her dog was a service animal. Mrs. Heisch and her service dog have personally been invited back and are welcome in any of the Church's Chicken restaurants."

But Heisch says, "at this point, it doesn't feel like an apology is really what's necessary. What's necessary is for them to educate themselves."

Even though Church's Chicken has apologized and even offered to pay for her food, Heisch says she may take this case to court.

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Augusta, GA 30909

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