When James Glaser stepped into Big I’s Restaurant in Oxford, Massachusetts with his service dog Jack, he was quickly told to leave in no uncertain terms. Glaser, a 41-year-old Air Force veteran, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in November of 2011 when he retired and says that he does not leave his house without Jack by his side. The veteran explained what happened to WHDH 7 News, “I hear, ‘Get that fake service dog out of my restaurant!.’” Big I’s owner, Russell Ireland didn’t consider the canine a true service dog and said, “This is a post-traumatic stress dog. It's to give him emotional support. How much emotional support do you need when you are eating breakfast?”
James grabbed Jack’s paperwork to show the doubting owner that he was indeed a legitimate service dog but was still given a fight. He told WFXT FOX 25 News, “I said, ‘I have his certification paperwork right here. He’s not fake, he’s 100% legit.’ He like, ‘I don’t give a [expletive]. I don’t have time for that. Get out of my restaurant.’” So James called the police and Sergeant Anthony Saad with the Oxford PD confirmed the dog’s paperwork and attempted to convince Ireland. While no charges were brought, the Iraq Vet says he will file a complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act which states that businesses must, “allow someone with PTSD to bring in a service animal that has been trained to calm the person when he or she has an anxiety attack.” James said, “Got 21 distinguished years in the military. After everything we’ve done, we just shouldn’t be treated like that.”
Many others agree with James and vow not to support Ireland or his dining establishment and a Facebook page boycotting Big I’s has over 25,000 likes. Ireland has received angry phone calls, honks from passing cars in protest, and threats to burn down the restaurant. Former patron Bill Haseotes said, “I used to go in there and eat but now I'll never give him a penny again after what I heard." Despite public sentiment Ireland is not retreating and says he apologizes only to veterans with “legitimate” service dogs, not Glaser.
Bart Sherwood, Program Director for the service dog training program Train a Dog Save a Warrior, rescued Jack from a Florida shelter, then helped train and certify him as a service dog. Sherwood said that dogs like Jack and other PTSD service dogs don’t look like the typical service dog breeds that people are used to, like Labrador retrievers or German shepherds, so their legitimacy is doubted. He advocates for better education about the matter.