Local News

Woman Ordered To Write Book Report After Refusing To Allow Guide Dog Into Restaurant

Posted March 4, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— A Chapel Hill restaurant owner's wife received a homework assignment from a judge after refusing to let a guide dog into her place of business.

Cooper, a black labrador, never leaves David Oberhart's side. The pair were almost separated last fall when Oberhart tried to eat at Zorba's, a Greek restaurant in Chapel Hill. The owner's wife, Iris Andros, would not let the dog inside.

"She saw the dog and didn't care. She saw the dog and reacted to the dog, rather than wanting to hear any explanation," Oberhart says.

The case ended up in court when the two sides could not come to an agreement. Even though Andros pleaded that she did not know Oberhart was blind, Judge Lorenzo Coleman found Andros guilty of refusing to allow a guide dog in a public place.

"I do understand that maybe I made a mistake maybe I should have asked, 'Are you blind?" she says. "Honest to God, if I know that such a law existed, I would have asked him."

Andros is about to learn a lesson about the law. Judge Coleman sentenced her to read about the blind and Seeing Eye dogs and write a 10-page book report.

"I think she's probably learned her lesson, or she's in the process of learning her lesson," Oberhart says.

Oberhart's civil attorney is concerned Andros still thinks she did nothing wrong. She plans to pursue her client's case to the fullest extent of the law.

Oberhart will file a civil suit against Andros on both the county and federal level. He wants her to pay $20,000. The money would be used to train a guide dog for somebody who cannot afford it.