Dogs & Laws

Man and His Service Dog Kicked Out of Taco Bell

For the past 11 years, truck driver Pete Kleckner of Minnesota has been traveling with his loyal service dog, Snickers, a 13-year old German Shepherd/Akita mix that helps him to hear. While Pete isn’t entirely deaf, he has been wearing hearing aids since the age of 11, and Snickers is an important part of his life. When his alarm clock goes off, Snickers wakes up Pete. She also alerts Pete to strangers approaching his truck.


Under federal law, as stated in the Americans With Disabilities Act, privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

But, last Wednesday, a Taco Bell restaurant in Jessup, Maryland, Pete was approached by the manager who asked him to leave, saying they don’t allow dogs inside the restaurant. The manager threatened to call the police if Pete didn’t leave, despite seeing Snickers’ orange service dog vest.

“I said to her go for it, she’s a service dog. It’s protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,” Kleckner told ABC News.

However, when police arrived, they sided with the restaurant, forcing Pete and Snickers to leave the premises, even following them back to the industrial park where his truck sat waiting for his next load.

Taco Bell’s district manager has since apologized to Kleckner.

If you were Pete Kleckner in this story, what would you do?



  1. Bob Green

    Aug 13, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Wow. Yes… both Taco Hell and the Police were in the wrong. Yes, they should both apologize in writing, which may have already been done for all we know and people already been disciplined. But reading all these comments? Sue, sue, sue!!
    No wonder America is the laughing stock of other nations. That’s all we think about is how and when to sue. Seriously?

  2. Darla Walkin

    Aug 11, 2013 at 3:44 am

    wow, a lot of insensitivity from a few here. Why assume the dog was a ‘mutt’ or smelly? It would have been far worse to leave the service dog in the truck, and would leave him open to a fine and possible jail time for cruelty to animals if it was too hot in the truck.
    The service dog is allowed where he goes, so why should he have thought to leave the dog behind? I am not sure Taco Bell needs to be sued, nor the police… but perhaps a letter writing campaign to the corporate office and the chief of police might make them make a move to educate their staff and personnel to the law concerning service animals in public places. The service dogs I’ve met were clean, and more well behaved than most children.

  3. Mr Keith Schatz

    Aug 10, 2013 at 11:47 am

    What a bunch of morons you people are (a hearing dog, get a grip ) I’m pretty sure that old pete could get by with out the mutt for a while so he could go eat. This service animal crap has gotten way out of hand. Any normal person doesn’t want to eat with a stinking mutt sitting beside him I applaud Taco bell for the courage to use a little common sense.

  4. Cee

    Aug 10, 2013 at 11:07 am

    There is no lawsuit here. The man has not been harmed and there are no damages to collect. It’s also wrong to blame Taco Bell as a whole for the ignorance of the one manager. Mr. Kleckner’s event, while unfortunate at the time, has helped to educate many on the ADA and service dogs, and will help prevent this type of incident from occuring in the future. Mr Kleckner, however, was not injured in any manner warranting a lawsuit. I do think Taco Bell should be gracious and offer Mr. Kleckner some type of compensation, such as free food for a year, in the way of an apology.

  5. Linda Hansen

    Aug 5, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I have decided to boycott Taco Bell. My brother is blind and has a seeing eye dog. Service dogs have a right to be in everywhere the companion is as they are the eyes,ears,and sometimes a voice for them.
    The manager apologized, but weher was he when the guy was booted? This is crazy,maybe it’s because you dit have the taco bell dog.

  6. Attila the Honey

    Jul 16, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I think everyone missed the point. Why would anyone visit a Taco Bell?

  7. Sally

    Jul 5, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I grew up in Maryland and lived there for 50 years. I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that YES, the people up there, a large majority of them, ARE that dumb!! I have traveled all over the United States, and Maryland gets the award for having the largest number of dimwits per square mile in the U.S.!!

  8. Wayne

    Jul 5, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I think every service animal controller within range around Jessup, MD needs to converge on all local shops, especially Taco Bell, and see what the local Police do this time. They need a huge education, maybe a few hundred educations, if they’re truly a dumb as they have proven so far.

  9. lila

    Jun 28, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Our family raised service dogs for six years as puppy raisers. Those dogs, while in training, have the same rights as service dogs. This allows them to learn to be well behaved in public places. Several years ago we were kicked out of a Pizza Hut because of the dog. I think that this latest incident shows a lack of training in the franchise. I don’t think suing them is the answer. But demanding that the police force and the company get educated on the law would be a good start to making this right.

  10. david

    Jun 28, 2013 at 8:59 am

    really? the answer here is to sue taco bell and the police department? isn’t our society a little too litigious as it is? I realize that making him leave is illegal (and how cops didn’t know that bewilders me) and I think the company should be fined because of it, but asking for millions of dollars (probably) because he was forced to leave a taco bell? Like I said earlier, I know it was wrong to do, but come on. Really?

  11. Anton

    Jun 25, 2013 at 5:29 am

    Jeez. The hillbilly didn’t get his taco. Boo hoo. You nutz want him to make some lawyer rich and get 39 people put out of work. Tell this “trucker” to grow a pair and eat his taco in the truck for one time.

    • lila

      Jun 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

      Wow, what a lack of sensitivity! I agree that suing is a ridiculous option here, but telling a disabled person to grow a pair? Obviously you haven’t had to deal with a disability or the discrimination that can accompany it.

      • Mike

        Aug 9, 2013 at 2:42 am

        I have to agree. I am deaf and don’t see why a dog needs to go into the restaurant with him. The article said the dog helps him get up and warns him when people approach his truck. Not necessary in a Taco Bell. In my opinion. Now if a dog could hear what he people in Taco Bell were saying and could sign it to me, sign me up!

  12. ron

    Jun 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I am for the dog but how can a person be licensed to drive a big rig if he can’t hear?

  13. Joe Blough

    Jun 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

    A Taco Bell manager is expected to be dumb.

    He was actually kicked out by the Cops.

  14. Aussies

    Jun 17, 2013 at 10:55 am

    No flame throwing here…but “inconsiderate” is not the issue. My only question is how the police could back up Taco Bells decision in asking the dog and owner to leave. Service dogs, whether offensive to others or not have a legal right to be in any establishment. Bottom line is this is a no brainer, the law is the law. I would be for Taco Bell making a sizable donation to a rescue group of choice that works endlessly to save and train puppies as service dogs. Yes , not all service dogs are bred for that purpose…many are pulled from shelters. It would have been so much worse to leave that animal in a hot truck as well….that is even more of a no brainer.

  15. Airstreamer

    Jun 12, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I wasn’t there, but I have a different take on it. Before I start I have three big hairy dogs and I love them like children, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who loves dogs more than me. That said, unless you were there, you don’t know the condition of the dog… big dogs, with a lot of undercoat, can smell horrific. Again, I don’t know if this was the case but if it was, I wouldn’t appreciate sitting in a restaurant smelling the dog. The dog was in no way helping the man with his hearing handicap at a restaurant, millions of deaf people maneuver through life without a service dog, so bringing this dog into a restaurant really was rather inconsiderate to other diners. I suspect there was seating outside, which would have been a better choice. I realize it was legal to have the dog, but was it inconsiderate, I think so. My flame suit is on, so fire away.

  16. Lars

    Jun 6, 2013 at 10:41 am

    No more suits. We are way to suit happy in this country. Who pays if the police lose a lawsuit??? Us!!! The taxpayers!!! One person was ignorant and made a bad decision. Let them lose their job, let Taco Bell pay the fine for one of their employees violating a law, but do other jobs at Taco Bell need to be put at risk because of a suit? Does the management and ownership of Taco Bell need to pay because one of their employees was stupid? Does the dog owner deserve millions of dollars because someone was stupid and inconsiderate, even though he was not harmed and has not lost any money or income? Let Taco Bell and that police department take a hit in the court of public opinion, not in civil court. No organization likes bad press, and that alone is enough punishment for both Taco Bell and the police department and makes them all more aware of this particular law.

    • Airstreamer

      Jun 12, 2013 at 10:10 am

      I agree… jeez… Sue, sue sue…. everyone wants to sue someone its crazy.

  17. MO

    Jun 1, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Time for Taco Bell (in Maryland anyway) to part with some peso’s. That manager should get busted down to the taco line at a minimum.

  18. The Dudeman

    May 31, 2013 at 10:21 am

    It disgusts me how sue-crazy people are in our country….HOWEVER, in this case, he should sue the tar out of Taco Bell and the police department (shouldn’t they know the LAWS???) An actual law that most everyone should know about for the past 20+ years!!!

  19. Kathyx228

    May 31, 2013 at 9:50 am

    This is absolutely unacceptable. Taco Bell as well as the responding officer should be ashamed!!! I am just in complete shock that the officer forced him to leave.

  20. mindy

    May 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Sue. Taco Bell and the cops.

  21. dez

    May 30, 2013 at 3:54 am

    wtf? who does Taco bell think they are, its not like they are some big beverly hill chain of stores. not only should he sue, those like myself who respect and love a disabled person should protest!!!

  22. John Connolly

    May 17, 2013 at 6:56 am

    What do u expect from those commie states up there

  23. gm

    May 14, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    HE should do what HE feels is right. Just because someone is wronged, doesn’t mean he or she should sue. I love how everyone assumes that this was a malicious attack on someone with a disability. It may not have been. Just think about it a little bit.

  24. stacy

    May 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    What the staff at this Taco Bell did was wrong, wrong, wrong. Unfortunately, you can blame all of the morons that drag their pets everywhere with them. May of these idiots go so far as to order fake service dog vests for their pets. You cant go into a grocery store anymore without seeing little purse pooches. Your PETS do not belong where the public goes to eat, shop, or be entertained. The law needs to be revised back so only REAL certified service dogs are permitted. As it sits now, pets can be drug around anywhere and shop owners can do nothing, or if they are asked to leave- then the shop owner gets sued or drug through the mud. Of course, when one of these pets bites 9which I have seen) then the victim goes after not only the owner of the PET, but the shop owner as well. Talk about getting screwed! I hope this Taco Bell apologizes publicly, and this doesnt happen to this guy again.

    • Heinrich von Uebelschmecker

      Jul 20, 2013 at 11:34 am

      In Europe dogs are readily permitted in establishment.
      The difference however is that the animals are very well behaved and trained unlike here.

  25. Sherry

    May 10, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Picket taco bell with service dogs. This will get everyones attention faster than anything.

  26. mark n

    May 10, 2013 at 8:33 am

    i am not a sue happy person. id rather make it well known to try and get as many people to boycott taco bell for 1 day and that would teach them to be more considerate. then i would go after the cops that made him leave and ask for a long vacation for them without pay because they think they know everything and if they use there authority and are wrong then that is a BIG deal…they need to be rite in their decissions. 6 months no pay and no doughnuts…get them where it hurts…

  27. excuzzzeme

    May 10, 2013 at 8:02 am

    As a disabled person, I can attest to the ignorance of many business’. Police are no better, they try to follow the law but are more ignorant than the business operator. Yes, they can enforce the managers decision to vacate the premises but they are still ignorant of the laws. I need to use a cart/wheelchair since I can’t walk well – the aisles are too narrow and smaller than the 36″ mandated by the ADA. getting things off higher shelves is next to impossible and asking for help to carry heavy items is also next to impossible. Most stores are very clear they only want able bodied people and disabled entrances are in an inconvenient spot (Sometimes around back.) Out of sight from the general public (out of site, out of mind.)And often the door is locked. Worse yet, the amount of ppl that park in disabled parking is unenforceable as well. The Uber rich, fat or minorities are the worst offenders. I have handicap plates for a reason and not because I want to park close to the door. I am not able to walk as far as normal people, been that way for the last 8 years. Being disabled does not mean being stupid. Unless it is posted – No Animals, the service dog can go anywhere the person needing it can go. If it is posted it is denial of equal access.

    • Bubba

      Aug 2, 2013 at 8:23 am

      How much do you weigh?

  28. DJ

    May 10, 2013 at 6:32 am

    There needs to be a registration for service dogs. It is not apparent to a lot of people for the need. I am aware of abuse of the ‘orange vest.’ Similar abuse is taken with handicap placards even though they are supposed to be prescribed by a physician and many times only for a short duration.

  29. Michelle

    May 10, 2013 at 2:22 am

    I have a service dog too, and I have been asked to leave a few places. But I quietly advised the manager or employee that she is my service animal, and therefore is allowed by federal law, anywhere that I am. Although I know they would have preferred if I left, I have never gotten kicked out of anywhere. It IS the law. If I were that man, I would have refused to leave, and let the stupid cops arrest me, THEN make a big stink about it, sue the pants off Taco Bell for being so IGNORANT. Shame on them! This type of stuff needs to bee heard about. An arrest of a disabled person and his service animal would have made the story super viral, thereby enlightening stragglers to the laws that protect the disabled.

  30. Erin

    May 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I would sue Taco Bell, and the Police Department of that town.

  31. Carla Sorensen

    May 9, 2013 at 8:22 am

    I live near Jessup, Md and I will not be eating at that Taco Bell!

  32. bill

    May 9, 2013 at 6:22 am


  33. Donna Fischer

    May 9, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Are Taco Bell corporate owned or Franchises
    If corporate everyone should start a boycott at all locations. (if even for a week) Hit them where it hurts.

  34. Donna Fischer

    May 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Sue Taco Bell and boycott them as well.

  35. Kalani

    May 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I HAVE been in the same situation. I stopped at a lonely gas station in Yermo,CA., and the cashier refused to let me in to use the bathroom with my service dog … despite having ALL the legal documentation, ID card, and a service vest on my dog. I should have sued as well, but I just reported them. I will never stop there again, and I have warned other people about the attitude there.

  36. beth powers

    May 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I am so sorry that we have failed to educated people of the rights of the disabled. Taco Bell and companies everywhere have a duty to educate their employees on the laws we have in place. But most of all the police totally failed to protect your rights in this united state of America. Shame on them and I hope that they were big enough to admit to their error and was truly sorry and will re-educate their police force on the laws in place as well.

  37. Mary DiBlasi

    May 7, 2013 at 10:46 am

    It is ridiculous that business owners are unaware of this law and it is the height of ridiculousness that police officers are unaware of this law. They should be ashamed of themselves for embarassing this man when he was in the right all along. Come on people – service dogs are not a new thing – get with the program. Open up your minds and your hearts. Is it that hard to see what a unique bond and service they perform. You’re the one with the disability if you can’t see that.

  38. Lori

    May 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Police cannot force people to follow civil law (such as the ADA). It is private property and Taco Bell can make anyone leave – however, the law they broke was a civil one, therefore they should be sued without a doubt. Anyone who says the police should be sued doesn’t understand the law.

    • jeff

      May 26, 2013 at 1:59 am

      (e)(1)(i) A person may not deny or interfere with the admittance of a service animal that accompanies a blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or mobility impaired individual in violation of this section.

      (ii) A person who violates subparagraph (i) of this paragraph is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500 for each offense.

  39. Candy

    May 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks Taco Bell. You’ve just been added to my list of businesses NOT to go to anymore! Which of course includes your KFC & Pizza Hut franchises as well.

  40. Miriam Newman

    May 6, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I’m not sue-happy and think it’s overdone, but in this case I think it’s appropriate to keep them from doing it to others.

  41. ruby barry

    May 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I thought a service dog had to be with his owner shame on taco bell

  42. denise

    May 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    sue them both,
    they need to get this right

  43. Kelly Sue

    May 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    He should sue both the police dept. and the Taco bell. He wouldn’t even have to pay attorneys fees all he has to do is contact Americans with Disabilities and they can hook him up. These uneducated people need to be educated on the LAW! They represented my brother in law against his HOA and won!

  44. Bonnie Beck

    May 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    It’s a shame you don’t live in So. California, I have a PitBull of an ADA lawyer I would recommend you to.

  45. Robin

    May 6, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I live walking distance from this taco bell. I will NEVER eat there again. Also, I will make sure I pass the word to everyone in my area. What is wrong with people anymore!

    • S

      Jun 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      Way to go Robin, if I lived in that area I wouldn’t eat there again either!

  46. Sara

    May 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I would make it a point to go back in there to see if the apology was really sincere. I would also bring an attorney who is up on the disability law come along with me.
    And, if they do it again have a tape recorder there, get names of witness and get the badges of the police. Let them know you are recording their conversation and see how they back peddle.

  47. Birgit Worman

    May 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm


  48. Judy

    May 6, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I agree sue both Taco Bell Corp. and franchisee also the stupid local cops.
    Probably a lot of Barney Fife’s, lol. I loved him.

  49. bob soltys

    May 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Yup – go after ’em. Don’t take “stuff” from dog haters

  50. michael n. compton

    May 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    sue them (both the taco bell and the police department)…and for such a large amount that it makes their eyes water just even to look at the number.

  51. ed lorenz

    May 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    and rip the cops a new one too …

  52. Claire Grant

    May 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    An apology is simply not enough. The Taco Bell should be sued-ed for braking the law the police also should be made to pay for not following Federal Law

    • S

      Jun 28, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Ditto Claire!! This is unacceptable!!

  53. kim hall

    May 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Sue them. THey cant do that. And sue the cops too.

  54. Tee Bowen

    May 6, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Lawsuit he and his dog are a protected class there is no excuse!

  55. Lola

    May 6, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Yup, agree, sue the eyeballs out of them. They can take their apology elsewhere, they only did so to look like they care. Take them to court.

  56. Jonette Dangerfield

    May 6, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    sue … with a capital S … things like this don’t change until you hit them in the wallet. Sorry but an apology doesn’t cover stepping on the law.

    • Logan

      May 6, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      I agree with you.. but he should Sue both the taco bell owner and the police… for not following the federal laws…

      • Molly

        May 8, 2013 at 2:25 am

        Absolutely agree with Logan!
        Just wish I’d have been there at the Taco Bell with Pete and Snickers! I’m a huge supporter of service dogs and the organizations that help make that happen.
        Not familiar with the way things go in that area, but the violations perpetrated by the Taco Bell employee and the Police Department as well, would have caused an absolute RIOT here in Portland, OR!!!

        Would appreciate anyone keeping me posted on what justice has been served, or still in process of being served. Thank you!


        • Linda

          Jul 16, 2013 at 9:30 am

          I agree!!! How low down & dirty can you get???? SCREW you Taco H*ll, I will NEVER eat another one ever!!!

      • char

        May 12, 2013 at 11:36 am

        the dog owner should sue both taco bell and the police dept. ignorance..

    • Janet

      Jul 7, 2013 at 3:22 am

      I also have a service dog, Diamond, and have had the police called on me because of her being in a store with me. I would suggest keeping a copy of the ADA laws concerning Service Dogs with me at ALL TIMES, in both English AND Spanish and calling the Department of Justice(1-800-514-0301)and filing discrimination charges against those idiots that think that they are above the law. I’d also picket in front of the store if I can and let the world know that that particular locale is an establishment that is discrimimnatory toward the disabled. Get enough people together and it will wind up hitting them in the place it needs to, their profit margin.

    • Ashly

      Jul 16, 2013 at 9:55 am

      What ignorance. Please express your outrage to Taco Bell Corp. Here is their Public Relations phone number listed on their website. Please call 949-863-3915!!

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