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FIRST ON 3: Store owner who kicked out service dog apologizes

READ MORE: FIRST ON 3: Store owner who kicked out service dog apologizes

It's been two days since we first told you about Robert Bryant, who owns a western wear shop in Castle Hayne. Monday, he kicked out a service dog that helps a 5-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy, because he said he had a strict "no pets" policy.

Today he talked with WWAY's Hailey Winslow and apologized for his decision.

"Honey, I try to treat everybody who comes through my door with respect and honor," says Western Shop Owner Robert Bryant. But the Ivancevich family didn't feel respected.

Robert Bryant kicked five-year old Amanda and her service dog "ELLIE" out of his Western Shop Monday. It was the first time Amanda had been out of the house in a year. She has cerebral palsy, and is missing the left side of her brain. She relies on "Ellie" to get her through the day.

Bryant talked with me on camera about the story, and what he did earlier this week.

"I had no intentions of offending these people, and I apologize if I have," says Bryant.

Bryant says he asked them to leave because he has a strict "no pets" policy, that "ELLIE" smelled, and he didn't want her getting dog hair on the merchandise.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a service animal is not a pet, and a business owner can only kick the dog out if it poses a threat to others.

Bryant says he didn't know about the law. "I was not aware that there was a law that required me to let an animal into my store. I've got horses that i think a lot of, I'm not going to ride my horse through the door."

President of Carolina Canines for Service Rick Hairston says this isn't the first time Bryant has kicked out a service dog. "I know of several, beyond that, how many we don't know about is probably more of an issue," says Hairston.

Bryant contends though, he treats everyone fairly. "I don't know that I've done anything wrong. But I don't treat people mean, I don't."

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.




western shop

I have been in the Western Shop many times and spent hundreds of dollars there,also i have seen Robert be very rude to people,i was in the store when a gentleman came in and complained about his western hat not being cleaned properly Robert was very rude to this man all the man was trying to tell Robert was that he didnt clean his hat properly, i felt sorry for this man Robert told him basically if he didnt like the way his hat was cleaned to leave his store he didnt need his business and yes Robert does cuss in the store because i have heard him cuss myself, Robert picks and chooses who he want in his store if he doesnt think your not going to buy anything he is very rude to you. he isnt a very out going person. To this day i wish i had of said something to Robert when he was rude to the gentleman who complained about him not cleaning his hat properly you could see the hurt in this gentlemans eyes Robert why did you treat this man with so much disrespect? I could say more but i will let it go with this comment Robert you are a very rude person!

He made his bed.

I find it very hard to believe being a business owner that he was not aware of the laws. Also so many want to pass the blame to the mother. The mother CAN NOT detect a seizure coming on where the dog can. I don't recall there being any law restricting service animals depending on the age of the person they are with. If you think about it Mom is probably with her 24/7. So why would there be a need for the service animal for those of you who think it is the mother fault. I don't believe he is sorry. "IF" just says he don't think he did anything wrong, and is just trying to save face. If his business folds it will be completely HIS fault. No one else's. With that face that this is not the FIRST time he has done this. That only tells me he thinks he is above the law. It is about time someone shows him how much he is NOT above the law.


wow........... I went back and read the reports on this issue....... ...................... I gotta say....IMO... I agree the Law is to be followed - I've worked retail for over 30years and I know customers and they have changed right along with business owners and rules need to be followed better than they seem to be now..... But................ what bothers me is the amount of anger that is being posting on these sites...... I see people posting raw hatred toward this old man and my question is.... how is that going to IMPROVE this event? Is it not just throwing more fuel on the fire?.................Our public walk in life seems to have developed into - absolutes......... I take issues with absolutes.

I agree a public apology from this man should be required and he should be trained in the law of aide animals so that in the future this issue would not be one ---- but to put a man out of business because of one mistake - God I hope none of you find yourself at the receiving end of such harsh judgement....... Lord knows I'm far from perfect - but after all.......... I'm a human being. I try hard to allow the rest of my fellow humans to be given some leeway for their mistakes too because I know none of us are perfect.......but... This whole situation went way overboard on both parties...

IMO... They should -Say- I'm sorry for the misunderstanding... and mean it! Then chalk it up to education/LEARN from it... then, try not to do it again. Easy to say....but it seems maybe more than some can do.

I don't know....this whole thing seems sad to me..... that we've come to have no ability to teach lessons that include both sides to end up BETTER than they started???

Sorry.... just my wish for a better world through better actions... I guess. Oh well, one can still hope! ;)

Peace can be obtained
when we look for balance
and avoid absolutes.

ADA and YOU: Service Dogs

Having a service dog, I have done allot of educating the public on service dogs. This man is among the millions of business owners who do not currently know the Americans with Disabilities Act and what it has to say on Service animals. Instead of making more problems, we need to educate the business owners and have them do some educating on there own. I just published a book on ADA and YOU: Service Dogs. I would recommend this business owner, those who have service animals, and those who need to know the law to get this book and read it. The more individuals know about the law, the more likely it is to be followed.

Service Dogs

Would love to know where to purchase your book, as long it is truely outlining what a service dog is and not calling comfort & therapy dogs "service dogs".

ADA and You: Service dogs

Therapy dogs are not service dogs, and neither are pets. If you read the ADA and You: Service dogs, you will see I went straight from what the ADA laws say. There is a copy of the ADA regulations in the book. You can get the book by following my homepage and then clicking on the cover of the book.

Of all the comments this one

Of all the comments this one is the most reasonable. I do know about the subject ADA law but I don't know who prosecutes when there is a violation or whether the offended person must hire a lawyer to have it prosecuted. Reminds me of something that should be handled in small claims court. Fact is, I don't think he'll ever do it again. Anyway, this is not murder and as has been said in the replies, I think the point has been made.
I only wonder how many other laws we are all ignorant of. There are so many.

Who protects the ADA

The ADA is the law, the Department of Justice is responsable for enforcing it.

Legally denying a service dog is the same as dening a person based on race/gender/etc. same department, same rules, same penalties.

When a violation occurs and is reported to the DOJ, they make their own investigation and then sue the retailer in federal court. Usually the retail takes a settlement where a fine is issued and the retailer is put on a 3 year probation. Fine are usually $10k - $50k (payable to the US Treasury), the disabled person usually gets $5k-$10k (Payable to the DOJ who gives it to the disabled in exchange for the agreeing to the settlement.

This whole process takes about one year.
Now many states, including NC have state laws, many have criminal penalties which are in addition to any charges the DOJ brings.

Almost every major chain has had an issue and taken a settlement, a complete list is here:

If you are business or service dog user, we offer a free brochure to help you.

Service animals must be clean and safe in public. If the animal was covered in mud, the business owner would have a valid excuse to exclude it.

Ken Lyons
Service Dog Trainer
Service Dogs of Florida, Inc.

So true

You, my friend, are a kindred spirit. I often ask myself why I still read the comments on many of the news segments. They are often so filled with hate and judgement and angry rhetoric and, well, absolutes. It is as if no one is capable of walking in another's shoes. I agree with everything you said. Our society as a whole is lacking in both balance and empathy. The owner was wrong and I think probably his cruelty like most was based on ignorance and selfishness. We all trudge through the tough times but we learn nothing from sitting in the negativity and dwelling on the anger. I believe in standing up to injustice but if we learn nothing in the process it is a waste so thank you for this post.


yes, we all make mistakes but its about what kind of mistake you make?????????? I do believe I heard this man say he did not care about the law, this was HIS LAW. I guess it is people like you that would keep him in business ande that is truly a sad thing. Would you also sit with the peoson that shot your family member cause they were drunk and have a drink with them, oh but I thought you said we all make mistakes?

ignorance...... mistakes

Really? You group the actions of this store owner with Murders? You think his crime is so awful that he deserves to loose everything? Wow. really? Lets hope you don't offend someone and get the same judgement called on it.

As for the remark about me sitting and having a drink with someone who killed one of my family - I won't comment on the stupidity of your statement because anyone with an ounce of integrity will see you for what your words show you to be.

Peace can be obtained
when we look for balance
and avoid absolutes.

This Family

This family has the integrity, compassion and desire to put this situation behind them and move foward. They have accepted the apology with grace and dignity. By continuing to rant about this you are doing them a disservice. I hope all who have rallied behind them and I include myself in this number, take the lessons learned from the experience and move foward. let the past be the past. Don't shop in his store but lets all let this go as the family wishes.

bowing out

I apologize if I extended this longer. I too will bow out from any more responses to an already too heated line of postings..... moving on.

Peace can be obtained
when we look for balance
and avoid absolutes.

No excuse

Robert Bryant should Google Patric LeHouillier, a Colorado Springs attorney accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities act by not allowing a disabled woman and her seeing eye dog into his office because he was afraid the dog would mess his carpet. He now has to shell out $50,000 as part of a decree approved by a federal court. Deny a service animal access to any public place and its will cost you. It is a federal offense.

Get educated Mr. Bryant, the next incident will come with a price tag. And anyone one else that tries the same stunt. Oh, and BTW, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Hey, Big Government

Hey, Big Government Advocate, why don't you google "Kitty Werthmann" and read a little about her life in Austria in 1938...

An excerpt about government controlling business:

"We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables. Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn't meet all the demands. Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control.

We had consumer protection. We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the live-stock, then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it."

I praise Susan's dignity after this unfortunate event... I believe the sincerity of Robert's apology. I WILL contribute to Robert's legal defense fund if the bureaucrats get out of hand. This is a matter between people.

you are way off on this.

you are way off on this. It's not about big government.. It's about being a human being which Bryant is not..

Western Store= Crap Store

The Western Store is a joke. Robert is a dirty old man and just got BUSTED... The only reason he is now apologizing is because he got BUSTED on TV. He and his employees are rude and if you have been in the sorry excuse for a store you probably have been treated that way too. He has nothing worth buying and if they go out of business it will be no loss. Even if they did have something I was looking for after this I would not buy it from them anyway. Shame on you.

I am a big supporter of

I am a big supporter of animals in the work place, whether it's for therapy or service purposes. I would hope, though, that the folks responsible for animals brought in to public places keep them well groomed.

Service Dog evicted from Store

I think we need to step back a moment and reflect on both sides. As I've watched this incident unfold, I felt like it would take this direction. I have some questions for the family that owns the Service Dog.
1. What specific job does this dog fulfill to be of service to this child?
2. Is this dog with this child 24/7? Including church, Dr. appts, tests, hospitizations, etc.
3. Is there ever a time when the dog isn't with the child?
4. Would it have been life threatening for the child to be in the store with the mother as her primary guardian and caretaker?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then as the parent of the handicapped child the mother should have immediately contacted the necessary groups to inform them of the violation. Representatives should have met with the owner to educate him on the laws regarding Service Dogs. I don't know that using the news media to enflame the public over this was the proper way to go.
From a bystanders perspective, if I owned the store and a very capable appearing mother with a handicapped child walked in and had their service dog I might would have requested the same thing he did. He is a small business owner, who can't be operating on a huge profit margin. The losses he accrues from lost business if clothes are tainted will impact him far greater than the Wal-marts of this world. What if I had a severe allergic reaction to the dog hair and had forgotten my epi pen, who's liable for my life-threatening reaction? The store owner? The mother? If I had allergies to animals and knew a long-haired dog had been throughout the store I wouldn't purchase clothing from there. Now we've put another small business owner out of business. Just what this Country needs.
There is more grey here than people see at first. Not all Service dogs perform their services constantly. If the handicapped or their parents, abuse the Service Dog privileges that will make things difficult for the people that TRULY need that Service Dog 24/7. I just can't see the store owner evicting a blind person walking in with a seeing-eye dog.
This wasn't a person trying to shop that needed this dog to assist with sight impairment, wheelchair manuverability or item retrieval. This child appeared to be accompanied by a very capable adult that could have met her needs and kept her safe for the short time that they were in that store. As much as Service dogs are needed and should be tolerated, we shouldn't take advantage of situations just to make a statement.

It sounds more like a pet

It sounds more like a pet than service animal. And how is a dog trained to detect seizures that the mother cannot? Does the dog have a PHD? I don't have kids but I am sure I could tell a change in behavior and know something is wrong. Maybe the dog is a babysitter so the mom can go about her daily routine without having to pay attention to her child with special needs.

to 2769

you are stupid.

guest 2769 You have got to

guest 2769 You have got to be kidding... no one can be that stupid.. or can you ....

Here are your answers.

1. It doesn't matter.
2. It doesn't matter.
3. It doesn't matter.
4. It doesn't matter.

Service dogs cannot be "banned" from businesses. The store owner broke the law. Plain and simple. If he wasn't aware of it, he sure is now. Hopefully others can learn from this as well.

Dear Dog Breeder

If you really are a dog breeder and would announce who you are along with your comments.....I bet you'd go out of business along with Mr Bryant. You obviously missed the boat on this issue.

Service Dog Evicted

Guest 27609,
Were it not for the overzealous, irrational individuals in this world that might would attempt to threaten and harass me, I would indeed reveal my identity. The boat I'm on is called the First Amendment. It is the right to speak my opinion, as you do yours. Forums are for exercising that right. I'm not just a breeder, I'm a mother of 5 boys and an owner of 10 dogs. I take my dogs to many places in Wilmington for socialization and training. I have been training my dogs for service and been rejected entry into businesses. I understand the offense this family felt. The issue that is being overlooked is that not all Service Dogs are necessary in all situations. Only this mother knows if the dog was ESSENTIAL to her child in that store. She listed commands that the dog is trained for, but didn't correlate them to the service he provides for the child.
As I said before, I don't see this man evicting a Seeing-Eye dog leading a blind person. My suspicion without knowing the family is that as much as the dog assists the child at home, the dog is a confidence building, gentle companion that didn't HAVE to accompany them into the store. While that is a wonderful thing for the child, it doesn't make it a necessity that the dog accompany her everywhere. I believe that if our society would fight the necessary battles instead of all battles, the road would be easier for the ones that really need it.
If the boat you're referring to is setting precedence for other service dogs being allowed entry, then my original suggestion of education to the business owner would still be the proper way to go. If he had evicted a seeing-eye dog that would be precedent setting and worthy of severe punishment. Service dog owners should still be responsible enough not to abuse the credentials the dog has earned and respect the fact that not everyone is totally unaffected by the presence of animals and take them only when necessary.
For some people, my youngest son for example, animal dander (cats in his case) can cause a SEVERE asthma attack that requires immediate treatment with a nebulizer. Have you considered that his right to enter that store was violated by the right of a Service dog being allowed entry? Who is more important here? The answer is neither, they are equal. THAT is why you don't take advantage of the privileges of Service Dogs.

to working dog breeder

Why were you rejected entry ?

my sentiments

my sentiments exactly....thank you guest27609

Working with service dogs

After seeing the news at 11 and being told that Bryant has kicked service dogs out of his business before. He should be made to work with service dogs and then he will see exactly how they help their owners. If he does get convicted it will be just 2o days. If he has to work with the dogs maybe he'll open his "closed" mind.

HOw many of you actually

HOw many of you actually shop in his store? you probably haven't even been in there. Let's get down to it and talk about store owners/ workers who work in 'high end' shops and turn their noses down or mistreat those that they think are not 'worthy' to shop there.
I hope none of you ever make a mistake.