Restaurant apologises over guide dog ejection

Christchurch restaurant Sister Kong has apologised after kicking out a guide dog, despite it being clearly labelled as a support dog.

Ed Lang and his family were fostering a guide dog – a “quiet, clean, well-trained” Golden Labrador wearing its official Blind Foundation red coat, and took it to dinner with them at Sister Kong on Wednesday evening. However, the manager approached the table and said that dogs were not allowed on the premises for health and safety reasons. Despite explanations, the manager refused to change their mind.

“We felt pretty upset and pretty angry,” Lang wrote on Sister Kong’s Facebook page. “We are not disabled so for us it was a mild inconvenience but it's pretty upsetting to think that someone who needs the dog would be turned away.”

Another customer, who witnessed the incident, described it as unacceptable.

“This is discrimination and is absolutely not okay.”

Sister Kong owner Sam Hooper published a public apology on the restaurant’s Facebook page later that night.

“We are terribly sorry about this and we're horrified at our team's response. Our manager phoned us (the owners) directly following your visit Ed, and we were disappointed and saddened to say the least,” he wrote. “We cannot apologise enough. We love all dogs (we have two) and have a huge respect for guide dogs and the incredible work they do.”

“We will take a good look at our policies and training and we will address this immediately with ongoing team training ... and have made a generous donation to the Blind Foundation Guide Dogs charity.”

Lang said he was pleased with the outcome.

“It's good to see they have taken immediate action. Mistakes happen.”