Woman refused entry to her own birthday lunch because she had a guide dog


A disabled woman filmed a restaurant turning her away because of her guide dog.

When Holly Scott-Gardner, who has been blind since birth, went to PGR in Coventry for her 22nd birthday on Monday, a staff member told her that her dog wasn’t allowed in.

The restaurant’s owner Majed Bahgozen was then called over, and he told her to leave the dog outside, sit outside, or go elsewhere.

They continued to refuse service, despite Holly repeatedly telling them it was against the law to turn her and her dog away.

Holly told the BBC: ‘You don’t expect to go out and have people treat you like you have no right to exist in public spaces.’

Initially, Ameena Slaviskus from PGR, who was not there at the time, told the BBC they ‘didn’t know she was blind because she didn’t have a card on her neck’.

But owner Bahgozen later said it was because they weren’t aware of the law regarding guide dogs in the UK.

What is the law around guide dogs and restaurants?

Under the Equality Act 2010, disabled people – including guide dog owners, or other blind or partially sighted people – have the right not to be discriminated against.

This means restaurants are not only required to allow guide dogs into their establishments, but they also need to provide a seating area with sufficient room for the dog to lie under the table as it has been trained to do.

A guide dog owner should also not be placed in a lower standard area than any other customers.

Staff are also required to provide any assistance to blind or partially sighted people when it comes to ordering, serving themselves (if it’s a self-service restaurant), paying the bill, and giving change.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, religious beliefs cannot be used to exclude guide dog and assistance dog owners.

Source: Guide Dogs

In a statement, he wrote: ‘PGR deeply regret what has happened. This was a result of a lack of understanding of what a guide dog is and the legal rights the owner has for them and their dog.

‘Guide Dogs and PGR are now in discussions as to the best way to promote this awareness with positive outcomes.’

A spokeswoman from the charity Guide Dogs said: ‘We were sorry to hear that a restaurant in Coventry didn’t welcome Holly and her guide dog.

‘Under the Equalities Act, guide dog owners should be allowed into restaurants with their dogs. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn’t aware of their legal duties but have since apologised.

‘They have also welcomed the opportunity to work with the Guide Dogs team to train their staff, so they take the right steps to welcome guide dogs and their owners into the restaurant in the future.’