A Marine veteran is filing a discrimination complaint against a New Orleans antique store after the owner kicked him out for failing to provide identification for his service animal.
David Ballengee, of Georgia, was visiting New Orleans for a wedding when he and his service dog “SD Ruger” entered Magazine Antique Mall on Magazine Street Friday afternoon, reported WVUE, a local Fox News affiliate.
Mr. Ballengee, who spent four years in the Marine Corps before suffering a traumatic brain injury in training, was diagnosed with PTSD and convulsive vomiting syndrome. He said SD Ruger alleviates his symptoms by routinely alerting him when he needs to eat or hydrate.
“The gentleman noticed my service animal and asked me for my paper work, his picture license, which is not something that exists,” Mr. Ballengee explained.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits staff from asking about a person’s disability or requiring a special identification card or training documentation for a service dog. Mr. Ballengee said he gave the manager information on the ADA and continued into the store.
“He said, ‘This is not the dog’s license, I’m asking you to leave the store.’ I said, ‘Sir, you can’t ask me to leave because of my service animal, you need to read the paperwork.’ About that time I took my camera out,” Mr. Ballengee recalled.
A video Mr. Ballengee posted on YouTube, which he later deleted, showed the man saying into the camera, “He has no ID of the dog. That’s all I ask for: ID”
The video showed Mr. Ballengee leaving the store.
WVUE later caught up with man from the video, the owner of the store, who said he kicked the veteran out because he turned his back on him, which he considered rude. The owner did admit that he was wrong about the law, but said he would now require service dogs to wear booties in the store because of the possibility of broken glass.
Mr. Ballengee said the booty policy still violates the rights of service animal owners. He said he’s filing a discrimination complaint against the store with the ADA.
The owner said he wanted to apologize to Mr. Ballengee, but reiterated that service dogs would not be allowed in his store unless they wear booties.