PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A diabetic blind man says a pawnshop owner beat him up because he refused to leave his guide dog outside. The blind man, who was wearing dark glasses, claims the pawnshop owner head-butted him in the face and then “shoved him across the room into a display counter.”
In his federal complaint, Matthew Compton says he walked into Canyon Exchange in Beaverton in May, wearing dark glasses and being led by Enzo, his 6-year-old Italian Greyhound guide dog. Enzo wore a bright blue harness that clearly identified him as a guard dog. Enzo also can sense when Compton is about to have a diabetic seizure, and will seek help if Compton becomes unresponsive.
Compton says Michael Vaden, who owns and operates the pawnshop with Jane Vaden, stopped him from entering. Vaden demanded that Compton and his girlfriend “get rid of the dog” because Vaden “did not allow dogs” in his store, according to the complaint.
Compton says he and his girlfriend told Vaden that Enzo is a service animal, but “Mr. Vaden demanded that they leave the store and forcibly grabbed Mr. Compton’s arm and pulled him toward the door.”
The complaint continues: “When Mr. Compton resisted, Mr. Vaden slammed his forehead into Mr. Compton’s face and violently shoved him across the room into a display counter.
“Mr. Compton and Ms. DeMartelaere were then forced to leave Canyon Exchange without having completed their business there.”
They were looking for a steam cleaner.
Compton has been legally blind since both his retinas detached during a 2004 accident. He has had more than 15 operations, but still is legally blind. He and Enzo went through 2 years of training at the All is Pawsible Service Dog School.
Compton demands punitive damages for assault and battery and wants the Vadens and their business enjoined to accommodate disabled people and their service animals.
Compton and his girlfriend are represented by Jon Egan of Lake Oswego.