A Burger King worker told an army vet that he couldn’t enter because he owned a PTSD support animal. 

Richard Mearns was 40 and had been to the fast-food restaurant in Waterloo Station, London, when he claims a member of staff told him to ‘get out’, He pointed out Ziggy’s brightly colored ‘Assistance Dog Jacket’, despite his objections.

The father-of-one, who was a combat medical technician for the British Army in Iraq, demanded to see the manager, who he claims also informed him they ‘only allow guide dogs’.

And when Mr Mearns, from Croydon, south London, explained this was incorrect, he claims he was only given a ‘grunted apology’, which left him feeling deeply upset.

According to the army vet, his dog was an emotional support and he is calling on Burger King for all staff to be trained in assistance dogs.

The army veteran was left furious after a Burger King employee at Waterloo Station told him he was 'not allowed in' because of his PTSD assistance dog

An employee of Burger King at Waterloo Station said that the veteran from the Army was ‘not permitted in’ due to his PTSD help dog.

Father-of-one, who was a combat medical technician for the British Army in Iraq, is now calling for Burger King to ensure all of their staff are fully trained on assistance dogs

 Father-of-one, who was a combat medical technician for the British Army in Iraq, is now calling for Burger King to ensure all of their staff are fully trained on assistance dogs 

A video that Mr Mearns shared online shows the following: As the employee speaks to his supervisor, he can be heard saying, “I told you that dogs were not allowed. He wants to communicate with me.”

The server is then challenged by Mr Mearns, who asks: “Excuse me. Can I clarify why dogs can’t be allowed?”   

Burger King stated that they are investigating but assured customers that assistance dogs were allowed in all their UK locations.

SSP operates the Burger King in Waterloo. They apologised and stated that one of their employees ‘didn’t realise that the customer in question needed special assistance.

Mr Mearns, who was diagnosed with PTSD in 2009, said: ‘I was waiting, and the bloke behind the counter looked at me and the dog, before saying ”you need to get out because there’s no dogs allowed in here”.

I was shocked. He was dumbfounded when I challenged him. Ziggy doesn’t seem to be cocking his legs, but he is wearing a jacket that reads ‘Assistance Dog. There is no need for more clarity.

For me, Ziggy is my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) assistance dog. I have PTSD from being a combat medic in army.

“I was questioning him why he was asking for me to leave after I paid for my meals and clarified that this was my assistance animal. His jacket and harness clearly stated ‘Assistance Dog.’

“He said that this is a restaurant, and dogs are not allowed inside.”

 ‘That’s when I said, ”You need to get your manager. It’s not ”.’.

“He said that he had told me to tell him to go to the manager. He said that dogs were not allowed in the building so I informed him. I was just trying to get rid of the attitude.

“He was so unhappy that he went to the manager to get help. The lack of compassion and implementation of training was evident, as well as a complete lack awareness.

“It is just so sickening. It makes me feel so anxious and stressed. I tweeted out the video of it because it really p***ed me off.’

Mearns says he received an inadequate apology when the manager visited.

Mr Mearns served in the British army as a combat medical technician from 2001 to 2005, and was deployed to Iraq in 2003. His experiences in Iraq led to him being diagnosed with PTSD in 2009

From 2001 to 2005, Mr Mearns was a combat medicine technician in the British Army. He served as an officer in Iraq 2003. After his experience in Iraq, Mearns was diagnosed with PTSD in 2009.

Mr Mearns said Ziggy had turned his life around and helped ground him when things get extremely stressful

Ziggy helped Mr Mearns to ground him during stressful times.

Ziggy assists Mr Mearns with his day-to-day activities and actively carries out tasks

Ziggy helps Mr Mearns in his daily activities. He also actively participates in tasks

He stated that the manager had come by, and they were speaking together. Because I was explaining that my assistance dog was part of the conversation, I was mostly outside this exchange.

“The Manager’s first words were, “We only allow guide dogs,” which was clearly wrong.

“I told him, “Look, he’s an assistance dog,” and they started talking about it like I was not there.

“I only wanted them deal with it. They should accept that a mistake was made and be able to offer an apology.

How do PTSD assistance dogs help sufferers?

Dogs are able to offer support for PTSD sufferers in many ways and can also help them recover.

Assistance dogs for PTSD are specially trained to treat panic attacks, anxiety, panic attacks and flashbacks.

The canines have been reported to make sufferers feel calmer, more confident, and less agitated. 

The dogs are trained to do work or perform tasks directly related to a psychiatric disability. For example, they can be trained to detect a veteran’s physical signs of anxiety and distress and interrupt them. 

An assistance dog is a trusted companion for thousands of people with disabilities.

They are trained to assist people who have hearing problems, epilepsy or diabetes, as well as those with mobility issues.

You can often recognize them by their jackets or harnesses.

Assistance/Guide dog owners have the same rights as everyone else to use the services supplied by shops, banks, hotels, libraries, pubs, taxis and restaurants under the 2010 Equality Act (EA).

“But, the manager was speaking to him about dogs or whatever and he was grunting. They were clearly just doing it for the show. I was ignored by them.

“I meant to say that I just wanted this guy to apologize to me. All I need is that. “I shouldn’t need to justify my existence.”

“His apology was much the same as Perry’s, very grunted.

He said, “They obviously didn’t care.” I was so upset by that disconnect. Is it OK to make a fuss in such a busy area?

“I received my food, and then left. The food was just as awful as the treatment.” This really was the best part. 

Now Mr Mearns Burger King should set an example by accepting assist dogs in their establishments, as does McDonald’s.

He added, “I don’t wish this happening to myself and I don’t think it should happen to anyone else. It is humiliating and degrading. This is a very easy problem to avoid.

Although Burger King might claim they accept all assistance dogs as part of their policy, I feel it is detrimental to my mental health if the staff members aren’t properly trained.

“Hi, can you help me?” is the first thing that you need to hear from any business. Or, ”Do your need some help right now?It’s not “No dogs allowed” that you are asking for.

“Companies are all about being kind, and then things like this happen. Surly though he may have been, he did not realize he was wrong. Because he didn’t know he was wrong, he believed that.

“It is interesting that there appears to be a lot more awareness about assistance dogs but it seems like frontline staff almost forget.

“When it comes down to corporates, I believe that they trust in ”We allow assist dogs and guide dogs because we must” without putting any apparent training. You wouldn’t forget it if they did. It’s that simple.

“It’s because of a lack in training. One person once suggested that we needed the government to modify the law. Most people don’t read legislation. We need to improve as a society, and we must challenge open discrimination.

“Big corporations such as Burger King are the most effective way to make it difficult. You should be able to stand up and tell them that we can do this together.

From 2001 to 2005, the father-of-1 served as a Combat Med Technician in British Army. He was then deployed to Iraq in 2003.

After his experiences in Iraq, he was diagnosed with PTSD in 2009. However Ziggy was granted to him in 2016.

According to Mr Mearns, “Before I got Him, I was in a downspiral. In 2009, I was diagnosed as having PTSD. I planned and prepared for my suicide attempt in 2010. It was only a matter of seconds.

“It was in an instant that I realized that I must turn back, stop, and never do that again. Eleven years later, I’m still here.

“I’d like to be able to help other people talk through that difficult time.” It knocks me down when things like these happen.

Ziggy isn’t just a dog. Someone once described Ziggy as my emotional prosthetic. He is a helper in my everyday life and allows me the freedom to do what I enjoy.

“Ziggy saved my life. My flashbacks have decreased from a large number per week to just a handful each month.

“He’s an emotional support and actively takes on tasks. He also helps me to ground myself when it gets very stressful. This bond makes life a living.

Burger King spokesperson said that they are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all guests and employees. Our official policy also states that our restaurant welcomes assistance dog owners.

“At Burger King we treat all allegations very seriously and have begun an internal investigation. This matter is being investigated by the restaurant’s management. We will continue to communicate with them and will ensure that everyone on the team receives a refresher training.

“We wish to remind our customers that all UK restaurants allow the use of assistance dogs.”

SSP operates the Burger King in Waterloo. A spokesperson said that they strive to offer a great customer experience and were disappointed to have fallen short.

It is possible to have assistance dogs in any of the units. Unfortunately, one of my colleagues didn’t realize the client in question needed extra help.

“Though both the colleague and the leader of the team apologised at the time we are also sorry on behalf the company. To understand further concerns we will contact the customer. In the meantime, all of our employees will be reminded about our assistance pet policies.