An argument broke out at a Delaware restaurant this week after a woman complained to a veteran that service dogs inside eateries are “nasty.”
The video shows Ciara Miller standing inside of Kathy’s Crab House arguing with a small group of people, including a man holding a leash of a Great Dane wearing a vest that read: “PTSD service dog.”
At one point a woman off camera is heard telling Miller the dog’s owner is a military veteran, the News Journal in Wilmington reported.
Miller is heard responding the point is irrelevant and having an animal in a restaurant is “nasty.”
“I’m not going to keep my opinions to myself,” Miller said in the video. “I’m going to voice it just like I did. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
She said restaurants should have an area designated for service animals.
The American with Disabilities Act requires restaurants to admit patrons with service animals. In Delaware, the law is not extended to emotional support animals.
The YouTube video has been watched more than 400,000 times.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the restaurant addressed the video, calling it “embarrassing.”
“We would like to express at this time how sorry we are over the embarrassing turn of events that occurred earlier this week in our restaurant,” the post said. “It is unfortunate that some of the public are not familiar with federal regulations regarding service animals.”
It continued: “That being said, we would like to take what may have been perceived as a negative incident and turn this into a positive opportunity, by educating and enlightening the public about the role of service animals and how they help and serve many returning veterans who have suffered serious wounds and injuries, as well as those veterans suffering from PTSD.”
According to The News Journal, Miller and the veteran in the video, retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Bill Austin have conflicting accounts of how the argument escalated.
She told the newspaper she and her family were seated at the restaurant when a man and his dog entered. She said everything was fine until the man walked over to talk to someone at an adjacent table. Miller said, at that point, the Great Dane had its rear end on the edge of her table.
It was at this point Miller allegedly asked her husband why restaurants don’t set aside a place for people with service animals.
“I can’t eat looking at a dog’s butt,” she told the newspaper in an email Wednesday.
Miller said a woman confronted her about her comments as her family went to leave. She said the woman’s comments quickly became insulting and others joined in – including some people who hurled racial slurs at her, she said.
Asked about her own profanity in the video, Miller wrote: “It didn’t come from nowhere.”
Austin disputed Miller’s account, saying his dog, JP, didn’t have his face or rear near the woman’s table, but was instead lying on the floor.
“You’re not allowed to do that,” he told the newspaper. “I know my rights and the ADA guidelines.”
The veteran said it was his wife who approached Miller to try and explain ADA guidelines and regulations. He said it was Miller who blew up.
“This girl verbally attacked my wife, and it just escalated,” Austin said, adding he didn't hear anyone use racial slurs to Miller.
Miller said since the video went viral, she's been the target of a smear campaign online.
“I am frightened to send my daughter to school with the level of verbal content [that] is being said to me and about me, my family and I based on these fake articles,” she wrote. “There’s now over 1M [million] views on FB this is ridiculous, this content needs to be removed. I have contacted these websites and asked them to remove inaccurate content and slander about me and I have not heard from anyone.”