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Wetherspoons dog policy: Moment disabled teenager with assistance animal refused entry to pub

A 19-year-old teenager has spoken of how they felt ‘absolutely humiliated’ after being refused entry to a Wetherspoons with an assistance dog.

In a video River Cartledge can be seen pleading with the manager of The Five Swans in Newcastle to allow both him and Shih Tzu, Chico, inside the pub.

River claims that prior to the video he explained he has Autism, Fibromyalgia and Arthritis and that is why he needs an assistance dog, which has a clearly visible harness.

A woman who identifies herself as the pub manager says in the video it is the pub chain’s policy to only allow in guide dogs and asks him to leave.

River can be heard saying that under the Equality Act that the pub chain cannot refuse entry and after trying to talk to the manager leaves.

The 19-year-old then claims he subsequently had a ‘severe meltdown and panic attack’.

Wetherspoons’ policy on its website states it only allows registered assistance and guide dogs into its premises. The chain has since apologised and said it made a ‘genuine error’.

River Cartledge, 19, claims his assistance dog was refused from a Wetherspoons pub

In a video, the manager can be seen telling Ms Cartledge that he will not be allowed entry into the

In a video, the manager can be seen telling Ms Cartledge that he will not be allowed entry into the 

River claims that prior to the video he explained he has Autism, Fibromyalgia and Arthritis and that is why he needs an assistance dog (pictured Chico), which has a clearly visible harness

River claims that prior to the video he explained he has Autism, Fibromyalgia and Arthritis and that is why he needs an assistance dog (pictured Chico), which has a clearly visible harness

The 19-year-old is often accompanied by Chico – who he has had for eight years – and retrained 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.’

And on Saturday night, he claimed he faced the same discrimination yet again when out with his  boyfriend Sean Wilson, 21, and some friends at the Wetherspoons venue The Five Swans.

‘Their issue, was the fact he was an assistance dog, and not a guide dog,’ he said. ‘I was straight up told that they only allowed seeing eye dogs and they didn’t allow assistance dogs, because of their “policy”. 

After being refused they asked to see a manager who they told 'their policy doesn¿t override the law, to be told that it does, which is absurdly untrue. Pictured: Bar staff and security outside the Wetherspoons pub in the video

After being refused they asked to see a manager who they told ‘their policy doesn’t override the law, to be told that it does, which is absurdly untrue. Pictured: Bar staff and security outside the Wetherspoons pub in the video

A sign from the Five Swans in Newcastle saying it takes only assistance dogs

A sign from the Five Swans in Newcastle saying it takes only assistance dogs 

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits service providers, including taxis and restaurants, from discriminating against those who need an assistance dog with them. Pictured: River with Chico

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits service providers, including taxis and restaurants, from discriminating against those who need an assistance dog with them. Pictured: River with Chico

What does the Equality Act say?

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits service providers, including taxis and restaurants, from discriminating against those who need an assistance dog with them.

It also requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled customers. 

According to Guide Dogs UK ‘75% of all assistance dog owners surveyed [in 2015] said they had been refused access to a service at some point because they had an assistance dog with them’. 

 Source: House of Commons

After being refused they asked to see a manager who they told ‘their policy doesn’t override the law, to be told that it does, which is absurdly untrue. 

‘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.’

And he added in the video: ‘Your policy does not override the law’ and he will make a ‘complaint’.  

He told the 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.’ 

In the video, the Wetherspoons manager responds that ‘if it is not a guide dog’ then it’s ‘company policy’ not to admit someone into the pub. 

She also says ‘you’re not getting in’ and suggests that River leave the premise. 

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.’

The 19-year-old is often accompanied by Chico (pictured) - who he has had for eight years - and retrained as an assistance dog two years ago

The 19-year-old is often accompanied by Chico (pictured) – who he has had for eight years – and retrained as an assistance dog two years ago

And on Saturday night, he claimed he faced the same discrimination yet again when out with his boyfriend Sean Wilson, 21, and some friends at the Wetherspoons venue The Five Swans. Pictured: The video River shared on Tik Tok

And on Saturday night, he claimed he faced the same discrimination yet again when out with his boyfriend Sean Wilson, 21, and some friends at the Wetherspoons venue The Five Swans. Pictured: The video River shared on Tik Tok

While Assistance Dog UK, a certification body, says the animals can support Autism, physical and psychiatric disability. 

The body also says: ‘It is not a legal requirement for Assistance Dog users to provide ID or “proof” of training but all ADUK members issue the people and dog partnerships they work with this information in the form of an ADUK Identification Booklet.’ 

River had the ID with him but claims he did not have the ability to show it while talking with Wetherspoons staff.  

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: ‘It was an error not to let the [man] in with her assistance dog.

‘It was a genuine error and we apologise wholeheartedly.

‘We can understand the fact the [man] 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.

‘The [man] is more than welcome to visit the pub with her dog.’

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