A FATHER has said people need more awareness of invisible disabilities after his son’s assistance dog was refused entry into a shop.

Karsten Bulner, his son Leon, who is three and suffers from moderate to severe autism, and his two-year-old assistance dog Fern tried to go into the Londis store at the Texaco petrol station in Weyhill on Sunday when they were told Fern was not allowed in

When Karsten explained that she was an assistant dog, the cashier said: “No dogs, end of.”

He went back the following morning to try and explain to the manager, but Karsten says that he “basically threw me out”.

He was told that assistance dogs were only allowed in for blind and deaf people, and when Karsten said that wasn’t the law, the manager replied that it was “Londis law” and that he “didn’t care” about a potential fine.

“It’s quite humiliating and embarrassing, it’s disgusting,” Karsten told the Advertiser.

“I’m trying to keep my cool and bite my tongue, but to be treated like that is unbelievable.

“It’s disability discrimination. You’re basically saying ‘if you’re not blind then you can’t bring any assistance dog in here’.

“The dogs gets him out of this stage where he goes into a meltdown, and nobody can do it better than the dog.

“So his dog is always with him.”

Karsten explained that they’ve often been challenged when going out, but as soon as the relevant person realised that Fern was an assistance dog, they were allowed to go about their business.

“That’s how it should be,” he added.

Karsten said that he wants people to be aware of the issues facing those with invisible disabilities.

This follows another incident in recent weeks, where Leon and his mother were confronted after parking in a disabled parking space, despite having a blue badge.

The gentleman tried to park in the space that Leon’s mother was, saying: “Well your needs aren’t as great as mine.”

“We all know that disabilities all vary and some are not visible.

“You look at him and you think he’s a normal three-year-old, but when you see him have a meltdown and that dog come into play, it’s just an amazing thing to see.

“Since having that dog it’s changed his life completely.”

Vas Mohanathas, Area Manager for JP&S Services, the company who runs the store, said: “I am appalled at the way this was handled by the staff on site.

“I have forwarded the videos to the Director as well and discussed my concerns with him.

“Please take assurance in knowing that he feels the same way about this as you and I and has asked me to action the investigation and staff training immediately.

“A new sign has been ordered for the site that says ‘Assistance dogs allowed’, to clarify the message that all dogs that assist their owners are welcome into the shop.

“The staff at the Weyhill garage have been informed and the sign will go up as soon as it arrives.”

The statement also went on to say that JP&S Services will add a guide dog trust in the area to their list of local charities they donate to.

They are also planning on giving free dog treats to guide and assistance dogs that visit their store.