A Charlotte family is seeking changes after they were asked to leave a Subway restaurant by a manager because they were there with their daughter’s service dog.
According to Aimee Johnson, her husband was with their four children Sunday at the restaurant on South Kings Drive when they were asked to leave.
The family included 9-year-old Kendallyn and her 3-year-old service dog Pogo, a mix of Australian shepherd and heeler. Johnson said Pogo was wearing her service dog vest and ID at the time.
Johnson said the manager told the family they had to leave because dogs were not allowed in the restaurant. When her husband tried to explain that Pogo was a service dog, Johnson said they were treated rudely.
Kendallyn began suffering from epilepsy in August. Her first seizure happened while she was in the bathtub. Johnson’s husband found the little girl in the water and used CPR to save Kendallyn’s life.
Now Pogo, who joined the family in November, helps protect her as her seizure alert dog.
Johnson said she called the Subway store later to try to explain the situation and was treated poorly on the phone. She took the incident to social media and several people contacted area media outlets.
WBTV attempted to speak with the store’s manager, but was declined an interview. Subway’s corporate officials did respond to WBTV’s questions.
“We have a firm policy in place to always allow service animals into Subway restaurants,” officials said. “We will use this opportunity to reiterate that guide dogs and other service animals should always be allowed in Subway restaurants.”
Company representatives said the manager was told there was a dog under a table in the restaurant and told the family the dog cannot stay in the restaurant. The manager should have, according to the company, first checked to see whether Pogo was a service animal or guide dog.
To boost training on this kind of issue, Subway representatives said, they will use online courses, internal publications and field meetings to get the word out about the company’s policy on service animals.
Company representatives asked for help connecting with the Johnson family so that someone from the company could apologize for the incident.
Aimee Johnson said she has spoken with several people from Subway’s corporate leadership and their “response has been incredible.”
She said they have followed up with her several times since the incident to apologize and promise additional training for staff.
Johnson said she hopes that by speaking out about her family’s treatment, some awareness and education will come for people with service animals.
Pogo, who came from Glad Wags in Tulsa, Okla., will start going to school with Kendallyn in January.