Tom Gryder of Vienna, Va., and service dog Astro, denied entry to Virginian Inn, told by owner that dog would 'be a distraction'

8:05 PM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

VIENNA, Va. (WUSA) - Tom Gryder has a service dog because he's legally blind.

Even though the American Disabilities Act makes it illegal for businesses, including restaurants, to deny entry to people's service dogs, Gryder and his wife say it happened to them yesterday right in their own town of Vienna.

"The man came to seat us and he said he didn't want the dog in his place,"  said Tom Gryder.

They had gone to the Virginian Inn for breakfast and it was crowded.

"Initially when we walked in he said, 'I don't want they dog in here. There's too many people, it'll be a distraction. I can't have the dog in here," said Jane Gryder.

"Basically, he just told us to wait outside. I said No and said 'I'm calling police.' And he said, 'Go ahead.'' "

Tom Gryder called the Vienna Police Department, but they couldn't help the Gryders because in Virginia, it's not a criminal offense to refuse entry to a service dog.  "I was livid. I have always been told, call the police, they'll take care of it," said Tom Gryder.

The Gryders took Astro, their service dog, back to the Virginian Inn to see if they'd be turned away again on Thursday.

When the Gryders arrived, they were treated well this time. They were quickly shown a table and not one question was asked about Astro, a black Labrador retriever.


Owner, Epione Kappatos apologized to the Gryders and said she has no problem with service dogs and knows they are supposed to allow them. She said it was all a misunderstanding and that her husband had just asked them to wait outside before seating them.

Gryder accepted the apology and gave up any legal challenge, but he thinks the state should make the offense criminal.


"Apparently, some know you can call police and police won't do anything. So that needs to be worked on," said Gryder.


The owner told police that the reason the Gryders were denied entry was because they were creating a disturbance.

The Gryders do admit they refused to leave and called police, but only after they were denied entry because of their service dog.

Most Watched Videos