Veteran with Service Dog asked to leave Gun Show

Published: Feb. 5, 2017 at 10:14 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2018 at 1:18 PM CST
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(WFIE) - U.S. Army Sergeant John Williams went to the Tri-State Gun Show on Saturday expecting to set up a booth and sell some merchandise. He didn't expect to be asked to leave.

Williams says it was because of his service dog, Winchester, who was assigned to him after a nearly two-decade tour in Iraq where he earned a Bronze Star with Valor.

Winchester helps him with joint flare-ups in his knees, that he acquired during those decades.

"I'll push off of him, he knows that whenever I call him over to me like that, he'll come over and get parallel to me," Williams says.

Williams says the man in charge of the show, is allergic to dogs and didn't want to risk getting sick.

"He said I'll let you get set up, and when I get sick, I'm gonna sue you," Williams said.

Winchester was assigned to Williams by the Soldier Dogs for Independence group. Their president, Michael Barrentine, was called to the gun show once he heard what was going on.

"There's so much irony, you have a 21 year veteran of the United States armed forces that's disabled due to his military service that's getting kicked out of the armory he spent most of his time in, because he was in the armed forces," Barrentine says.

Williams eventually left the building and stayed outside until the police came. He and his wife say this violated their ADA rights, which apply to those with service dogs.

"It doesn't apply because he's not setting up at my gun show because we don't allow dogs in my gun show," says Thomas Allman of the Tri-State gun show.

Allman says dogs haven't been allowed to sit at booths at his shows for the last 20 years

"You want to come in the gun show and sell your guns, or walk around and look and trade guns with your service dog, we have no problem with that, and I can't stand to be sick and be put in the hospital," Allman says.

In this case,  reads that "Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals."

"It's like telling someone that has a wheelchair, hey you can let someone into my facility, but leave your wheelchair out at the door, these are medical tools," Barrentine says.

Williams is still contemplating on whether he will press charges.

We will keep you updated.

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