After serving four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Garrett Loughran now relies on his 5-year-old certified service dog named Hershey to help calm him down in crowds, and to ease his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to WGN 9’s report out of Chicago, Loughran took Hershey with him to an Algonquin, IL Houlihan’s restaurant where he was refused service for having the labradoodle with him.
It was Sunday, May 24, 2015. Loughran’s mother, Laura Willis, told WGN that she was taking her veteran son to lunch as a pre-Memorial Day celebration. “He had his red cape on that said he was a ‘service dog,’” declared Willis when asked about Hershey. Even though they were reportedly carrying Hershey’s official documents, they were told by a member of the staff that, “Well, we don’t allow dogs in the restaurant.”
The National Service Animal Registry defines a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) as “a dog that is individually trained for people with an emotional or psychiatric disability so severe that it substantially limits his/her ability to perform at least one major life task.” As such, Loughran is allowed, by federal law, to have Hershey accompany him whenever he enters any business where the public is allowed to go.
In the his interview with WGN below, Loughran states, “I expected that by this day and age that everybody knows what service dogs are and they should be more accepting of veterans like me.” After complaining to the restaurant chain, Houlihan’s responded to Loughran’s refusal of service by firing the manager in charge that day, and issuing a formal apology.