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Outrage as diner shuns blind man over guide dog

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Outrage as diner shuns blind man over guide dog
File photo of a black labrador guide dog, of the kind refused entry to a restaurant in the north of France on March 21st. Photo: Sini Merikallio
12:30 CET+01:00
A blind man has expressed his outrage after he was refused entry to a restaurant in the north of France because his guide dog was not allowed in for "hygiene reasons", despite a law specifying the animals must be welcomed in all public places.

“It was an act of contempt, an exclusion, and a nasty piece of discrimination,” said Sylvain Syllebranque, after he, his wife and his guide dog were told they were not welcome at a ‘Flunch’ restaurant in the town of Quesnoy, northern France.

Syllebranque, a physiotherapist who is completely blind, was turned away from a branch of the chain restaurant on Thursday where he was due to meet his wife for breakfast.

The manager of the fast-food establishment refused him entry, claiming that Syllebranque’s black Labrador guide dog ‘Vox’ would flout hygiene rules inside the eatery.

“I showed her my guide dog ID card, which states that they are allowed in all public places, under pain of a €305 fine,” Syllebranque told RTL radio on Monday – evidently to no avail.

Having been turned away, Syllebranque, his wife and Vox were quickly welcomed with open arms by another nearby restaurant.

‘Flunch’, for their part, have distanced themselves from the manager at Quesnoy, labelling her actions “inexcusable, sad and deplorable.”

Though it was not clear what disciplinary action, if any, the company had taken, RTL reported that Flunch had started training their employees on how to properly accommodate disabled customers.

An estimated 1.7 million French men and women suffer from some form of visual impairment, including blindness.


Above: Sylvain Syllebranque (centre), accompanied by his guide dog Vox, and a friend (right) returns to the Flunch restaurant which denied him entry on March 21st.
Photo: Screengrab/France 3

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