An Indian Head woman is speaking out after she and her service dog were turned away from Chuck E. Cheese’s in Regina Monday night.
Ashley Nemeth and her husband took their two boys to the kids arcade only to be told to leave from the manager because there were “no pets allowed.”
“I tried to explain to (the manager) that he was not a pet, he’s a guide dog and that I was blind and that I needed him — he was my eyes and he was allowed in,” explained Nemeth.
Since first getting Rick, her yellow Labrador retriever guide dog, three years ago, Nemeth added she’s been in situations like this before.
“Usually, I’m able to kind of explain to them the rules — and usually, they listen,” she said.
However, this time was different.
“I went through a lot of emotions. I was angry, I was frustrated — but more than anything — I was hurt that it was my kids who were the ones who missed out and were affected the most,” she said.
In response to the incident, CEC Entertainment told 980 CJME in an email that “service animals are always welcome” and the company expects “employees to accommodate guests with service animals.” The written statement went on to say that they plan to re-train employees on Chuck E. Cheese’s policy to “ensure service animals are properly permitted entrance in the future.”
Nemeth said someone from Chuck E. Cheese’s in Toronto called to apologize Monday night, but now she said she wants an apology and a commitment for education from Chuck E. Cheese’s in Regina.
“I think education is key,” she said. “I don’t think anybody did it out of spite or anything like that, it’s a matter of them not being educated.”
Which is why Nemeth said she filmed the incident on her cell phone and posted it on Facebook — to educated people, but also to back up her complaint to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.
“I wanted to show people and society that this stuff happens every day — right here in our own community and maybe we need to start the conversation around it,” she said.
Nemeth added that she hopes her Human Rights Commission complaint makes Chuck E. Cheese’s in Regina understand the impact the incident had on both her and her family.
“I would like to see them take the steps to show that they are making the necessary changes — like re-training their staff and that their staff understand the laws and the legislation behind service dogs and the important role that they play in so many peoples’ lives,” she said.
According to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission’s policy on service animals, “businesses are required to accommodate for the attendance of service animals.”
However, the code adds that handlers should be prepared to explain what duty their service animal performs.
Being denied public services, due to a service animal, is considered prohibited.