PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – An ex-Marine who was wounded in Iraq and suffers post-traumatic stress disorder was thrown out of a bar in Beechview Thursday night because he brought his service dog.
Tonight, the bar’s owner issued an apology to KDKA’s Paul Martino.
It happened at the huddle, just before kickoff for the Steelers game.
The bar’s owner claims he didn’t know he was kicking out a wounded Marine and didn’t realize it was a service dog.
But the Marine tells KDKA he’s embarrassed and angered.
He’s a retired Marine. Wounded in Iraq and suffering from PTSD. Last night, he was thrown out of a restaurant in Beechview because of his service dog. What the restaurant owner is saying on @KDKA at 6:30. pic.twitter.com/59CNUFkLqY
— PAUL D. MARTINO (@PMARTKDKA) November 15, 2019
Kris Jones served proudly in the Marines following 9/11. But his service ended in April of 2003 when a rocket propelled grenade hit his Jeep in Iraq.
“I was knocked unconscious for several minutes. I just remember seeing a lot of sand and heard a really loud noise,” Jones said.
Today, Jones is disabled. He suffers back, shoulder and head injuries, as well as PTSD.
“I could not breathe. I couldn’t be in public. Literally, just at a drop of a dime, out of nowhere, I would just…my body would feel like it’s shutting down, like I was absolutely dying.”
But his service dog Chopper has changed much of that.
“They force the veteran to get out of the home. I have to get out, this dog’s gonna make me get out of the house. He’s gonna make me interact with people,” said Jones.
But his trauma heightened Thursday night when he entered The Huddle in Beechview and was told he couldn’t bring in Chopper.
“I tried to show him my disabled military ID from the Marines and Chopper’s identification and what not and he put his hands up and did not even want to look at it,” said Jones.
“I made a mistake as to the evaluation as to whether he was with a service dog,” said owner Pete Wagner.
Wagner admits he made a bad judgement.
“I just made a mistake. That’s all there is to it. I should have served him and I did not,” he said.
Wagner, who is the father of Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and brother of former State Auditor General Jack Wagner, says he normally allows service dogs.
“I’m embarrassed today that I didn’t serve the fella,” said Wagner.
Jones said, “I was really upset, you know? I just wanted to cry, for a part. I haven’t slept all night. I’m just really angry.”
Wagner has extended an invitation to Jones to come back to The Huddle and have dinner on the house.
But Jones tells Paul Martino he never wants to go back there.