Disabled teenager refused entry to Spoons because he had an assistance dog

A disabled teenager said he felt ‘absolutely humiliated’ after he was refused entry to a Wetherspoons with his assistance dog.

River Cartledge, 19, has autism, fibromyalgia and arthritis, so takes his assistance dog Chico most places with him in a harness.

Video footage from Instagram shows him pleading with security guards and the manager of The Five Swans in Newcastle to let him inside the pub with his Shih Tzu on Saturday night.

River said: ‘Their issue was the fact he was an assistance dog, and not a guide dog.

‘I was straight up told that they only allowed seeing eye dogs and they didn’t allow assistance dogs, because of their “policy”.

A woman who says she is the pub’s manager in the video explains it is the chain’s policy to only allow in guide dogs.

River, who went to the pub with boyfriend Sean Wilson, 21, said the chain cannot refuse entry to assistance dogs under the Equality Act, and after becoming fed up with arguing his case leaves.

He claimed he had a ‘severe meltdown and panic attack’ after the interaction.

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‘I quoted the Equality Act 2010, and the guide for all businesses, both of which any business that’s open to the public like any Wetherspoons is, have to abide by legally, regardless of any “policy” they may have in place,’ he added.

He repeatedly explained to a manager ‘their policy doesn’t override the law, to be told that it does, which is absurdly untrue,’ he added.

River told MailOnline: ‘It was absolutely hurtful, really humiliating and dehumanising and embracing standing there.

‘I have never had an experience like this and it caused me to have a medical episode.’ 

He added he would be making a complaint to the company.

Chico has belonged to River for eight years and was trained as an assistance dog two years ago.

River said: ‘Assistance dog handlers such as myself get denied in public places more often than it’s talked about, and it always makes us feel like this, and like we’re the ones causing problems for ourselves by needing a dog, when in reality it’s the ableism and ignorance of other people, not the disabled person.’

Wetherspoons’ policy states: ‘We do allow registered assistance dogs. 

‘In these circumstances, and to avoid any confusion or unnecessary upset, ensure that your dog is wearing its recognisable leash/collar or harness. 

‘It would also be helpful if you could bring along suitable documentation to explain your dog’s purpose.’

River said he had ID from Assistance Dogs UK, a certification body, with him but was unable to show it at the time. Chico was however wearing a harness.

The organisation however states there is no legal requirement for assistance dog owners to provide ‘proof’ of training.

Wetherspoon spokesperson Eddie Gershon said: ‘It was an error not to let them in with the assistance dog.

‘It was a genuine error and we apologise wholeheartedly.

‘We can understand the fact they would have been upset and frustrated by the situation.

‘Assistance dogs are allowed into Wetherspoon pubs and we will reiterate this to staff at the pub and the company’s pubs in general.

‘They are more than welcome to visit the pub with the dog.’

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