A Missouri man may have been exploiting the Americans with Disabilities Act when he ate lunch at a restaurant with his “service snake,” KY3 reports.
Lisa Loeffelholz was enjoying a meal at El Puente Mexican Restaurant in the town of Nixa when a couple walked in carrying a boa constrictor. The woman had the snake around her neck when they walked in, but, “It started to slither… into the booth behind her.”
Loeffelholz complained to restaurant staff, who told her the man, woman and snake trio must be allowed to stay because the snake was a service animal. She didn’t buy it, so Loeffelholz confronted the couple herself, saying “a snake in a restaurant is not the best thing.”
“He said, ‘It’s my service animal. And I’m allowed to have it because it helps me with my depression,'” she told the station, adding that it was “no different than a dog.”
But Nixa city spokeswoman Jill Finney called the bluff. Service animals, per the ADA, can only be dogs, she said.
“So if somebody says they have a service monkey, a service cat or a service snake, ADA only defines it as dogs,” she said.
Startled restaurant patrons could have called authorities, she said. Loeffelholz and her group chose to leave instead.