Belfast Telegraph

'I was very upset... I wanted the ground to swallow me up'

James Cosgrove describes his ordeal in his own words:

My guide dog Imogen is my life. She sees for me. I can't do without her. She is everything for me when I'm out. She will walk me through obstacles on the footpath, she will stop me bumping into things, she will take me around people in crowded areas.

The incident at the Bangla Indian restaurant took place last May.

I had gone with a friend, and Imogen was with me.

We were met at the door by a member of staff who said sorry, but dogs were not allowed.

I explained that Imogen was a guide dog, and guide dogs were exempt. I was told that absolutely no dogs were allowed.

When I spoke to the management I was told the same - no dogs allowed. I said it was discrimination, they said it wasn't.

We were there for 15 minutes trying to talk them around, but without success. In the meantime people were walking past, looking at us. Cars were slowing down. It was so embarrassing. It was horrible.

The restaurant was adamant we weren't getting in with my dog. They said I could leave Imogen outside, tied up to a lamppost, or have a carry-out. I was very upset. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. Imogen is my eyes when I'm out. Without her I couldn't do half the things I do.

Having a guide dog empowers me. It gives me confidence that I can go anywhere. That's why this case was so important to me.

Belfast Telegraph

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