Wendy's Hamilton turfs out man with hearing dog
A fast-food chain turfed a specially trained hearing dog and its owner out after a complaint from a customer.
Puzzle is a hearing dog, trained to respond to sounds his profoundly deaf owner, Roger Drower, 44, can't hear.
They were on a day trip to Hamilton from Tokoroa yesterday, when the pair fell foul of a Wendy's customer who thought the dog's presence in the Greenwood St restaurant was unhygienic.
Puzzle's yellow raincoat with "hearing dog" printed along the side went unnoticed and restaurant manager Himanshu Kher demanded they leave.
"My wife went to the counter and I went to one of the windows in the corner and the dog just sits down and waits," Mr Drower said.
"All of a sudden the manager came over and says: You, get your dog and get out."
Mr Drower was in Hamilton to take his 4-year-old daughter, Azaria, to hospital for minor surgery and wanted to eat before they headed home. His wife Naomi Drower, 27, and daughter Letecia, 3, also made the trip.
"I was totally disgusted. I come here for work and we always went [to Wendy's] for a meal and this is the first time we've ever got told to leave."
Legislation allows for hearing dogs, seeing eye dogs and mobility dogs to access areas usually barred to the canine kind. Mr Kher said it was the first time he had come across a hearing dog.
"It was a new thing for me but after reading that [information] card I apologised," he said. The Drowers returned to the restaurant to finish their meal.
Wendy's marketing manager Faye Stretch said it was a timely reminder to all of their restaurants of their obligations to people with assistant dogs.
Puzzle was given to Mr Drower by Hearing Dogs NZ but cost him $30,000 to train.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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