Blind man not allowed in cafe because his guide dog is ‘too large and fluffy’

·3 min read
Stephen Vallance, 44, was refused entry to the cafe with his dog Wills. (SWNS)
Stephen Vallance, 44, was refused entry to the cafe with his dog Wills. (SWNS)

A blind man was turned away from a cafe because his guide dog was “too large and fluffy”.

Stephen Vallance, 44, was refused entry to Star Café in Sidcup, south east London, because he was accompanied by Wills - an Alsatian Labrador cross.

Vallance - who suffers from learning difficulties and is registered blind - and his mum, Ann, said they were “disgusted and shocked” by the refusal on 10 April.

Charity Guide Dogs added it is “completely unacceptable and illegal” for a business or service to refuse entry to a customer with a guide dog.

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Stephen Vallance and his guidedog Wills. (SWNS)
Stephen Vallance and his guidedog Wills. (SWNS)

Stephen's mother Ann said they were not allowed to have breakfast at the cafe, despite explaining that Wills was a working dog.

A staff member said Stephen was not allowed to sit down inside because the service animal was “large and fluffy”.

A couple of days later, her son returned with a guide dog trainer and was again turned away.

Star Cafe has since doubled down on its position and did not apologise.

Ann also claimed the same cafe turned Stephen away on a previous visit when he was with his previous guide dog, called Linton, who died during the pandemic.

She said: “I told the gentleman that Wills was a working dog, and my son is blind.

“But he insisted that it’s against his policy to have the dog in the café. It’s disgusting, I'm absolutely furious.

“A staff member told us to ‘stop the dog from shaking’, which we couldn’t do, and then he barred us from the café.”

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Stephen received Wills after his old guide dog died during the pandemic. (SWNS)
Stephen received Wills after his old guide dog died during the pandemic. (SWNS)

Ann said the cafe owner offered them a seat outside, but Stephen had a kidney transplant a few years back so could not sit in the cold.

Stephen added: "What he is saying is rubbish, we've been into other cafes, pubs, shops. Wills is a normal size dog."

Star Café in Sidcup claimed there was not enough room for the mother and son as well as the 'large' dog.

A spokesman said: “You know, I've known them [Ann and Stephen] for years. The guide dog is too large and fluffy.

“The people in the coffee shop do not like it, so we lose customers. She appeared the other day with the large dog but there was no room.

“She doesn’t understand - she just thinks because there’s a guide dog, they can go anywhere they want and sit anywhere they like, but it doesn’t work that way.

“We've got tables and chairs outside, and she doesn't want that. That’s the reason why I won’t let them in again.”

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