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Veteran denied service at Easley restaurant because of her service dog

Nikki and her disabled veteran owner denied service
Nikki and her disabled veteran owner denied service
Joanne Powner

An Upstate South Carolina veteran is upset after police were called to an Easley restaurant after she and her service dog were denied service and were asked to leave. Fox Carolina News reported the story June 25.

Joanne Powner suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the Navy. She's fortunate to have Nikki, a 6-year-old service dog, who helps her handle day-to-day life.

Joanne and Nikki were planning to enjoy a meal at the China Garden Buffet on Calhoun Memorial Highway in Easley last Friday night. Restaurant employee Melili Weng came over to her table and asked her to leave, threatening to call police.

Joanne explained she was allowed to have Nikki with her, and showed the owner of China Garden a copy of Nikki's paperwork, as well as a copy of the American Disabilities Act, and Officer Yates arrived around 8:47 p.m.

The owner said he was afraid he would be violating health codes by allowing Nikki in his establishment. China Garden has now been made aware of the law concerning service dogs, and would like the public to know service dogs will now be welcomed at his restaurant.

Police determined this was a civil matter, and wouldn't provide further assistance in the case. As for Joanne, in an interview with Fox Carolina, she stated she's

"Embarrassed, humiliated, saddened, nervous."

Joanne hopes this incident will educate business owners of the American Disabilities Act and allow disabled vets who have service animals to enter an establishment in peace.

As for Nikki, she's a very smart dog. Joanne suffers from nightmares, and Nikki knows when Joanne is having a bad dream, and wakes her up.

"If I have a flashback she gets me out of it. When I have a nightmare she will wake me up in the middle of the night. She can just sense it."

Click here for more information about the American Disabilities Act and service animals being allowed to enter a business.

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