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Vet booted from diner over service dog gets apology

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

OXFORD, Mass. — A diner owner has apologized for throwing out a military veteran because he brought in his service dog.

Russell Ireland, owner of Big I's in Oxford, told Air Force veteran James Glaser and his dog, Jack, to leave the diner on Saturday. Ireland said at the time that he didn't really believe Jack was a service dog because Glaser allowed people to pet and feed it, unlike the service dogs he has seen with other customers.

Ireland swore and told him to get his “fake service dog” out of the diner, Glaser said.

Glaser, who served in Iraq, says the dog helps him deal with post-traumatic stress disorder by smelling chemicals released by the stressed body before an attack and taking action to distract the owner.

“I used to get mad, yell, break things,” Glaser said, explaining his PTSD.

“Many times, he's (woken) me up from night terrors,” Glaser told news station WFXT. “And then, during the day, when I get upset and mad or something scares me or whatever, he comes up and paws my chest.”

Ireland says he now has a better understanding of the situation because veterans have come in or called and explained to him how an animal can help veterans cope with PTSD.

“I'm changing my mind and my stance,” he said.

The incident drew criticism on social media and harassing phone calls, Ireland said.

Glaser, who suggested a boycott of the restaurant, said Tuesday he hadn't heard from Ireland directly and still planned a rally at Big I's on Saturday to draw attention to the issue.

It is illegal for public businesses — such as restaurants, hotels, stores, cabs, and sports facilities — to restrict access for service animals.

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