A POSH bar is to donate up to £7000 to charity after refusing entry to a blind man and his guide dog.
A bouncer told regular Peter Davey he could not take guide dog Norton into the newly-refurbished Huxley hotel bar – despite laws insisting the working dogs have to be admitted.
The 59-year-old was left embarrassed and outraged by the incident, which prompted an apology from the complex’s owners. The “regrettable incident” has seen them pledge to donate their entire takings from this Friday evening to RNIB Scotland.
Mr Davey, of Tollcross, said: “It’s good they’re making this donation, but I’m still aware that this sort of discrimination against the disabled takes place.”
The retired IT project manager and a pal went to the pub with Norton after a training session at a nearby karate club last Wednesday.
Mr Davey, who has macular degeneration and has experienced deteriorating sight loss since childhood, said: “We were met by the doorman, who said we couldn’t bring Norton in.
“I asked what he meant and he said he had been given information from the general manager not to allow guide dogs in, so I asked to speak to the manager.
“When he came out he asked what the problem was, he said it was at his discretion whether he let dogs in. He said he was not going to let me in, and I explained that was against the law. There was a launch that night, and I suppose he wanted to cater to a certain clientele.”
He added: “I was taken aback when he said it – I couldn’t believe it. This was a place we had been plenty of times before after karate and the staff had always been perfectly nice to us.”
Mr Davey, who has had the Golden Labrador for five years, said staff regularly gave the dog a bowl of water while he enjoyed a chat and a drink.
While he is glad they have offered to hand over their takings, Mr Davey is undecided as to whether he will go back. Instead he says he just wants “to make people aware that this kind of thing does still happen”.
The Equality Act 2010 requires bars and restaurants not to discriminate against disabled people – including those with assistance dogs.
Despite the law, a Guide Dogs Scotland spokesman said people still regularly find themselves in the same position. “We regularly receive complaints that guide dog owners have been refused access with their dogs, which can be very distressing.”
Signature Group Pubs, the owner of the Huxley, said: “What happened was an unfortunate and regrettable one-off incident and we are very sorry about it. We have been liaising with the RNIB Scotland and as a gesture of goodwill, we are going to contribute all of our takings from Friday to the RNIB.”
They cannot discriminate
IT is against the law for pubs, cafes and restaurants to refuse to serve disabled customers or to offer them a lower standard of service.
Premises also have to make “reasonable’’ adjustments to make sure disabled people are not discriminated against, according to the Disability Discrimination Act.
The rules mean guide dogs are allowed wide access to most buildings. According to the Institute of Environmental Health Officers, the high level of training received by guide and assistance dogs means they are not a hygiene risk in licensed premises.
Ignoring the rules could see a business being taken to court and having to pay hefty financial penalties.
YEARS OF PATIENCE AND TRAINING
TRAINING guide dogs is expensive and takes years. Each puppy lives with a volunteer puppy walker who, with advice and support from a supervisor, cares for a guide dog pup until it is 12 to 14 months old.
They teach it basic obedience and also get the pup accustomed to environments including homes, busy town centres, quiet country lanes and public transport. Dogs are matched to their owners by taking into account a person’s needs – their length of stride, walking speed, height, lifestyle, personality and whether they have other disabilities. It costs around £50,000 to support a guide dog from birth to retirement. Training for dogs and their owners continues for up to seven years.
One source said: “A lot of dogs don’t make it. Greedy or excitable pups don’t make the final cut.”