GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An uproar has developed on social media after a veteran who uses a service dog was kicked out of a Grand Rapids bar Friday night.
Bar management confirms the incident happened at the Holiday Bar on 5th Street NW. An apology was posted to the bar’s Facebook page promising better training for its staff.
Jerome Smith, a Marine, said he was asked to leave shortly after walking into the bar because he had the service dog with him. He uses the dog to help him manage post traumatic stress disorder brought on from time in combat, he said. Bar staff said the root concern was for the safety of the dog and all others in a busy bar on a Friday night.
“I explained to them, thats not legal. Thats not right. You can’t do that,” Smith said. “He crossed his arms and shook his head and refused to — all of the ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re saying’ behavior and it got to the point he said, ‘you can’t stay here. You’ve got to leave.'”
In a statement on Facebook, the bar acknowledged what happened:
We had a very unsettling incident late Friday evening at our establishment that we are ashamed of and very sorry for. Some of you may have heard bits and pieces and or have been made aware of this.
Although the decisions that were that night were made out of concern for all involved, it is clear that the wrong decisions were made. For this we are deeply sorry, we know we can’t change what happened but are hopeful we can learn from this. We employ men of armed services, both active and ex, and have nothing but upmost respect and admiration for them and all that serve.
On behalf of all at the holiday Bar we would like to express our deepest apologies for all the pain this has caused.
I️n light of all the pain this has caused we will be donating 100% of all of our sales today to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, we know this doesn’t change what happened, but maybe it will be a cause for reflection in our own hearts if nothing else.”
The posting was shared more than 100 times and received hundreds of reactions online.
Smith says he does not harbor bad feelings for the bar but he hopes the staff and others learn from this experience.
“There’s a lot of cool people there at that bar. It’s just one individual that kind of ruined the party for everyone,” Smith said. “As a Marine, somebody who has taken an oath, somebody who swore to protect and defend people — to defend the helpless, I feel like I’m some sort of an ambassador in this situation to where I have an obligation to stand up against this behavior and to change whats happening her.”