updated - May 19, 2013 Sunday EDT
By Zanub Saeed
A Canadian man was denied service from a McDonald's in Alberta because of complaints other customers made about his service dog.
The man, John Dignard, suffers from a permanent brain injury he received when struck by a car at the age of five, and requires the dog to assist him in getting around, his sense of direction, and to help when the man is confused due to his short-term memory, a report in Canada's CBC News stated on Thursday.
"Your dog stinks and everybody is writing letters to me," Dignard says he was told by the manager of the McDonald's in the town of Wetaskiwin, said the CBC report. "I'm tired of it and I want you to leave."
Dignard also noted that the owner, named D.J. Sharma, told him, ""I'll pay the fine ... I don't care. I want you and the dog never to come back here no more," said CBC.
As Dignard had a government-issued certification stating he required the service dog for his personal needs, he could not be denied service at the McDonald's. As he was, the owner would be penalized for breaking the law. Dignard previous visited the local McDonald's every morning for a cup of coffee, and noted that he never wanted to spend his money on another McDonald's store again, noted CBC News.
"I'm not going to spend my money at McDonald's if they cannot respect my disability," Dignard said. "Change your attitude towards service dogs. They're not pets. They're working dogs ... my handicap is invisible."
The McDonald's owner being accused by Dignard, however, said in a statement that he had made no such call of dismissal, and said that Dignard had left on his own accord after being told of the other customers' complaints.
"The customer and his service animal have always been welcome in the restaurant and at no time were they refused service or asked to leave," Sharma wrote in the statement, said CBC News.
"We reached out to the customer after receiving numerous customer complaints regarding the individual's behaviour and the well-being of his service animal. After approaching the customer, they voluntarily left the restaurant."
Dignard told CBC News that he plans to make a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
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