Thanks to Diane Lederman, The Republican we have this news:
EASTHAMPTON – On Thanksgiving night, veteran Gary Houle Jr. said he went to the Pulaski Club to meet a friend but was tossed out because of his service dog Princess.
Now he and his father, Gary Houle Sr., are organizing a protest against the club Sunday, claiming the younger Houle was discriminated against in violation of federal law.
Club officials won’t comment. Scott Vishaway, club vice president, was bartending that night. He could not be reached for comment. But club manager Stanley Kuchyt contacted Vishaway and said that a lawyer would release a statement Thursday. He said until a call, no one had asked to hear the club’s side of the story.
Houle admits that he lost it after he was told he had to leave.
Houle said his father plays in a pool league at the club, so on Thanksgiving night he decided to meet his friend. He said he doesn’t drink anymore but was going to play Keno and have a soda.
He said the waitress told him dogs weren’t allowed, and he explained she was a service dog. She called to Vishaway who came over, and Houle explained to him that Princess was his service dog.
Vishaway allegedly asked him for certification, and Houle said he didn’t need to show it, but then agreed. But that wasn’t enough, Houle said and Vishaway allegedly “got more aggressive,” he said and started harassing him.
Houle said Vishaway then told him he didn’t have the appropriate harness for the dog. “I started to flip out,” Houle said.
He was wearing his camouflage pants, a combat unit sweatshirt and combat uniform bandana. His dog was wearing an Army harness. He said that Vishaway was disrespecting him as a disabled veteran.
Houle, 43, said he enlisted in 2008 because “I wanted to do my part.” He served a tour in Iraq and then was injured in Afghanistan in 2011. He was medically discharged in April of this year, he said.
His bullmastiff became certified as a service dog Nov. 1, he said.
“I have hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, PTSD,” he said. “She keeps an eye an one my surroundings. I can’t go out without her.”
He said he wants to make people aware of what happened.
“There’s a lot of soldiers coming back with animals," he said. "It’s not right. They should be treated as if they had a wheelchair or any other disabled person, not disrespected like that.”
“It’s not right,” said Gary Houle Sr., who was not there that night but has since been putting up posters and alerting veterans groups and the community bout the Sunday protest. “This guy’s been through quite a bit. They shouldn’t do that to someone who’s been there.”
He said protesters will gather on Franklin Street and walk to the club at noon.
The club meanwhile has a posting on its Facebook page for Veterans Day thanking veterans for service as well as a marking of Pearl Harbor Day Dec. 7.
The club that was started to help Polish immigrants celebrated its centennial last year.