Snoozing ‘service dog’ sleeps through owner’s Tasering, arrest

The Capital Times 5/27/2009 12:42 pm

A Madison man was Tasered, pepper sprayed and subdued by three police officers at a McDonald’s restaurant after refusing to leave when a manager questioned him about his sleeping dog, which he said was a service dog.

Stephen Bottila, 37, was tentatively charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct following his arrest Tuesday night at about 8 p.m. in McDonald’s, 2402 S. Park St.

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“The patron (Bottila) said it was a service dog but didn’t say anything else,” said police spokesman Joel DeSpain. “The manager let the man eat his meal while the dog slept under the table.”

DeSpain said the Americans With Disabilities act allows business owners or managers to ask customers if an animal brought into a business is a service animal, or what kind of tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but can’t ask about any special identification cards for the animal, or about the person’s disability.

Bottila apparently felt his rights were violated when the manager asked about the dog.

“He wanted to press charges, but an officer explained the manager didn’t do anything wrong and the dog had nothing readily identifiable on him to indicate it was a service dog,” DeSpain said. “The manager just wanted to make sure people weren’t bringing non-service dogs into the restaurant.”

Bottila refused to leave the restaurant and a scuffle ensued.

“He fought with three officers while being arrested,” DeSpain said. “Pepper spray and an electronic control device were used to get him under control.”

While Bottila was hauled off to jail, the dog was taken to the Dane County Humane Society.

DeSpain said the dog slept through the whole thing.

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