Manhattan Restaurant Owner Faces Massive Fines For Refusing To Allow Service Animals
@besim.kukajka/Instagram

Who doesn't love dogs?

Apparently, a restaurateur in Manhattan.


Eateries owned by Besim Kukaj in New York City have allegedly refused to follow the law for people with service animals. This has led to legal action.

July 2017, at Kukaj's Limon Jungle, diner Henry Goldstein entered the establishment for lunch with his service dog, Cookie. Goldstein had cookie registered with the city to help with his severe anxiety.

The manager allegedly asked to see the dog's papers, and when provided, still kicked Goldstein out.







After this, Goldstein registered a complaint with New York City's Commission on Human Rights. They had a tester call another Kukaj owned establishment, and see if they would allow someone with a service animal.

The employee who answered said they weren't allowed any animals due to health laws.

This case highlights an ongoing problem with the way some people treat their pets. More importantly, it brings up the way people use so called "emotional support" animals.

On one hand, places like restaurants ban non-service animals for a reason. Different animals can set off allergic reactions for people, or even contaminate food.

On the other side of things, people with disabilities need their service animals. Places that take too strong a stance against animals, risk alienating and discriminating against those with genuine need for their animal.

Despite this, some online chose to side with the restaurant owner.






The ADA and often times, specific city laws have definitions of what constitutes a service animal. In New York City, the law specifically says that whatever requirements between the two sets of description provides the most protection for the person with the service animal is what applies.

The ADA also lists what staff are allowed to do and ask about the service animal. They can ask if the animal is required because of a disability, and they can ask what task it is trained to perform.

They are not allowed to ask for documentation, to see the dog demonstrate its task, or what the nature of the person's disability might be.

And of course, outright denying someone with a service animal from your restaurant isn't a good look either.

Kukaj never showed up for the case, leading to Judge John B. Spooner to recommend $14,000 in damages awarded to Goldstein and $28,000 in city fines against the restaurant owner and his restaurant group.

The final ruling has not been given at this time.

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