Vet educates public after he's denied service - KCTV5

Vet educates public after he's denied service at local restaurant

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A combat vet who was denied service at a local restaurant because of his service dog got that business to right the wrong. Now they are working together to educate the public about these helpful animals.

After serving his country for five years, Andrew Zemore is considered a hero.

"We used to get into anywhere from six- to 12-hour firefights," he recalled of his two tours in Afghanistan as a marine combat engineer.

He lived the stuff of nightmares.

"I've seen multiple double-amputees," he said. "I've watched a lot of my buddies die."

Zemore came back changed. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

"Major depression, anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares. Socially it was nonexistent," he said. "I did not want to leave the house."

He was changed for the better, though, when he was matched with his service dog, Teddy. The Great Dane has his vet's back. The two are inseparable.

"He takes care of me," Zemore said. "If I have a panic attack, I can reach down, pet him. A lot of it is me too mentally having to remind myself he's right here, right now, you're safe."

Last Thursday, Zemore's issues were triggered. He and his girlfriend went to Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken and of course, Teddy was with them. The former marine says the manager told him he couldn't be in the restaurant with the dog.

"When you go into a restaurant and they discriminate against you, you start feeling the physical feelings of shakiness, anger, rage," Zemore said.

Eventually, owner Henry Loving was called.

"There's no excuse," Loving lamented. "We apologize. It should've never happened."

Loving says his staff has now been educated. An electronic sign out front reads, "Service Animals Welcomed." Now, he's hoping the community will be informed as well.

"There are all different types of disabilities and we should be taking care of these folks and understand the law," Loving added.

Zemore says he'd like to figure out other ways to educate the public about these service dogs because he encounters incidents, like the one at Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken, at least once a week.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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