Blind Woman and Her Guide Dog Denied Cafe Entry
posted on Aug 22, 2011
A blind Lady has slammed a cafe in Harwich, Essex after they refused to admit her guide dog.
Susan Henshall, that lives in the adjoining Dovercourt village, was given her marching orders at the White Coffee House, in Kingsway, Harwich, after going in with her two-year-old labrador guide dog, Usef.
A guide dog was wearing a high-visibility coat and harness along with a and a sign, when cafe owners Gary and Coral Cox refused to serve Miss Henshall.
The owners claim the reason for not allowing the lady and her guide dog was because a guide dog was sick in their cafe a year ago! The blind lady was offered a seat outside, but refused and has reported the cafe to the Guide Dogs Association.
Miss Henshall said: “Having a guide dog opens my life up and gives me confidence, but this has been a knock. “My dog was on a harnass and under control. He would have sat down at my feet. “I didn’t stay. I just walked out. I was very angry. I’m not a second class citizen.”
Miss Henshall has had five guide dogs throughout her life and she has regularly visited numerous cafes and restaurants in Harwich without any problems.
Gary Cox, cafe owner, said: “We had a problem a year ago when a dog sicked up in the cafe and it cleared the place. “We were told we don’t have to allow dogs on the premises. “I have spoken to the Guide Dogs Association about the issue and they understood as well. “I sympathise with anyone with not very good vision, but we are a very small place and that is our policy.”
David Cowdrey, the Guide Dogs Association’s head of campaigns, said: “Guide dog owners such as Miss Henshall rely on their dogs for mobility and independence. “This is recognised in the Equality Act 2010, which requires restaurants and other service providers not to discriminate against disabled people.
“Staff at restaurants and food shops often cite hygiene issues – the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Officers has confirmed that guide and other assistance dogs should have access to these premises and there is no conflict with hygiene laws.
“Guide Dogs, the guide dog training and supply charity is happy to visit the White Coffee House to offer training and advice on the law and just how important a job guide dogs do for their owners.”