‘My own disability wasn’t believed’: Seattle man and guide dog kicked out of restaurant

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Castle shared his experience of getting kicked out of a restaurant he entered with his guide dog. The employee didn’t believe Castle was blind and told him to leave.

SEATTLE — Guide dogs are essential for many blind people to be able to live their daily lives independently.
But recently, a blind man was kicked out of a Seattle restaurant for having his guide dog with him.

“I was speechless, I was shaking,” said Paul Castle, who lives in Seattle. “I was really upset and disappointed.”

Castle started going blind at the age of nine and now only has 10% of his vision.

“It’s sort of like looking through a straw,” said Castle. “I have no peripheral vision, the rest of my visual field is full of static.”

Castle goes everywhere with his guide dog, Mr. Maple, and said his dog has allowed him to live more independently and get out of the house more on his own. He got Mr. Maple from Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Castle runs a popular social media channel with his husband, Matthew, that spreads awareness about blindness and gives a look into their lives.

One recent video got a lot of traction where Castle shared his experience of getting kicked out of a Seattle restaurant after he entered with his guide dog, Mr. Maple. The employee did not believe that Castle was blind and said he had to leave. When Castle said he would return with paperwork, which is not required for him to show, the employee said if he came back, he would call the police.

“When I encounter a situation like this where I’m fully rejected not only for my dog, but because my own disability wasn’t believed, it makes me really sad on top of all the struggles that I already kind of deal with,” said Castle.

He believes two things led to this situation. One issue is people falsifying their dogs as service dogs, which causes difficulties for people who depend on real service dogs. He also said it is important for people to know that most legally blind people still have some vision.

“I think sharing our personal stories and finding ways to grow and learn together is the ultimate goal,” said Castle.

The Washington State Human Rights Commission said an establishment can only ask two questions of someone with a service dog under state law:

Is the animal required because of a disability?What work or task is the animal trained to do?

Under federal law, no documentation is needed, and animals do not need a vest or harness marking them as a service animal

A restaurant could face a fine if it discriminates against a person with a service dog. But it is also important to note that if someone refuses to answer the above two questions about their dog and refuses to leave, they can face a fine of up to $500.

Castle said he is not naming the restaurant because he does not want them to face backlash and that he is not pursuing legal action. He said he wants this to be about education.

When he got home and posted the video that went viral about the incident, he reached out to the restaurant about what happened. He said he ended up meeting in person with the manager, who was sincerely apologetic and said he would better train employees.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.