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Sunday May 24th, 2015 1:27PM

Athens men, guide dogs refused service, takes store to court

By Alyson Shields Reporter
ATHENS - Two blind men and their service dogs were refused service at a convenience store earlier this week.

According to CBS Atlanta, Michael Barnes, his guide dog, Doc, along with his friend, Joseph Weaver, and his guide dog went to the Quick Pantry convenience store and were abruptly asked to leave by Hiteshkumar Patel, a clerk.

"The manager rudely comes up to us and starts yelling, 'No dogs in here, no dogs near food,'" said Barnes.

Barnes showed the clerk a guide book including the Georgia service dog law, part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even so, they were told to remove the dogs from the store.

The men called the police after leaving the store.

Store manager Pete Patel told CBS Atlanta that they didn't know about the service dog law. "We didn't know it was legal, that you can let them in," he said. He also said another dog had urinated in the aisle when in their store, prompting them to refuse dogs in the future.

Patel said he has corrected his staff since the incident and welcomes Barnes and Weaver and their guide dogs back to the store.

Barnes, Weaver and Hiteshkumar Patel will all meet in a pre-warrant hearing in a magistrate court sometime in August, according to Athens-Clarke County Police. The judge will then decide whether or not to press charges.
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