Easthampton veteran planning protest after being kicked out of club for service dog

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An Easthampton veteran is outraged and planning a protest after he says he was kicked out of a bar for bringing his service dog inside.

Gary Houle served in Iraq and Afghanistan. His service dog Princess is always by his side.

But he says what was expected to be a Thanksgiving evening in Easthampton's Pulaski Club turned into controversy.

Three-year-old Princess goes everywhere with Houle. As his service dog, he's used to her constant companionship which is why he was shocked when he says he walked into Pulaski Club and was immediately questioned about the dog.

"When I got inside, I was approached by one of the waitresses and they said no dogs allowed, and I said it's a service animal," Houle said. 

Houle says a bar manager asked him to prove it was a real service animal.

"I showed him the ID then he continued to harass my service animal about her harness, saying it was the wrong harness, other dogs had been in there and it was not the correct harness. It's a tactical harness and has a service patch on it that's certified."

At that point, Houle admits to losing his cool.

"I did get irritated and angry at that point, I did say a few things."

He says after he and the employee exchanged words he was thrown out.

"I just got back from two wars and this is how I'm being thanked on Thanksgiving, I came in here and this is how I'm being treated and I walked out."

While serving in the army, Houle spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But in 2011 he was injured and now suffers from a traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, nerve damage and PTSD. That's where Princess comes in.

"Her primary job is to watch out for my surroundings and listen out for me, and help me with my PTSD so I remain calm while I'm out and about...I wouldn't get by without her, I'll tell you that much."

Houle says he's decided to take action as a veteran with a service dog and doesn't want to see those returning from war treated the same way.

"There's going to be a lot of soldiers coming home with this happening and I don't want them to be treated this way."

CBS 3 went into the club Wednesday night to get their side of the story. A bar employee told us a manager wasn't available to talk.

CBS 3 knows there are two sides to every story. We are waiting to hear back from Pulaski Club owners on their account of what happened that night.

Houle is planning a protest Sunday at noon, where he plans on marching to Pulaski Club with other veterans.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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