By Christina Stevens
TORONTO – Karoline Bourdeau and her husband Richard said after a long day, they just wanted some sushi at a nearby restaurant.
But as soon as they entered, the owner of Ikki Sushi told them Karoline’s guide dog, Potter had to go.
“He doesn’t talk to me, talks to my husband and points at the door telling us to leave,” said Karoline.
“I explained, he’s a guide dog, he’s allowed in,” said Richard.
They said the restaurant owner kept insisting the dog must wait outside and it quickly became clear that he wasn’t changing his mind.
Global News tried to contact him by telephone, but he hung up. However, when we went to the Scarborough restaurant he explained his point of view.
“I say you can leave the dog outside or in the car,” said Bob Huang, the owner of Ikki Sushi.
He said he was worried that the dog fur might bother other customers, particularly if they are allergic, so he suggested the man (Richard) could be the guide.
“The man can handle this problem. I think the dog just outside waiting for him, no problem,” said Huang.
Even after acknowledging that he understood it was the law, Huang insisted service dogs would not be permitted in his restaurant.
“I understand this way but she’s just thinking of herself. Does she think of other people?” said Huang.
He said it doesn’t matter whether a dog is working, it is still an animal.
Earlier this week Global News reported on another Toronto woman who was told her guide dog was not allowed in a Tim Hortons.
“I tried to think of an analogy. If someone is in a wheel chair you know you don’t tell them to leave it outside with the bicycles,” said Victoria Nolan.
After she and her husband refused to leave, staff relented. Legally, they didn’t have a choice.
“The law says that a person that is blind or partially sighted, accompanied by her guide dog must be allowed into places open to the public,” said Yin Brown, Advocacy Manager for CNIB.
Even though they knew they were in the legal right, the Bourdeaus said that as they were unable to sit down or order they left. They also called both Toronto Police and the City of Toronto, with neither taking any action so far.
“This is really humiliating. I could write, not just one book, but ten of them about the different incidents that just keep happening,” said Karoline.