A woman is calling for a boycott on a Rotherham garden centre after being made to sit behind a screen at a restaurant with her dog, something she had done numerous times with no issue.
Kat Trinder, aged 32, of Wombwell, had been enjoying a walk with husband Garry and six-year-old Lhasa Apso Paulo in Wentworth on Sunday, when they decided to stop for a quick bite to eat.
Having previously visited the Walled Garden Coffee Shop and Restaurant at Wentworth Garden Centre numerous times with Paulo, the couple headed there to shelter from the wind, sitting in the conservatory area out of the way of others who were dining.
Kat said: “Wentworth Garden Centre is about five minutes from where we live so we go there quite a bit with the dog. Wherever we go we always double check if they're dog friendly.
“They’ve always said you can come in if you sit out the way, as long as your dog is well behaved.”
After reaching the garden centre cafe, the pair ordered food, and sat down leaving Paulo on the floor.
“It had been windy outside, and I saw that Paulo was shaking,” Kat added. “He wasn’t crying or anything but I decided to put him on my knee.”
Kat says the next thing she knew the general manager came over, saying that dogs were not allowed on the premises.
“She said that you can’t bring dogs in because there were other people in there, but there were only three tables and mainly families with children who had cooed over Paolo.
“When we challenged her saying that we had taken Paolo in before when other people had taken in dogs, she said in a condescending manner that she had been there 15 years and they had never allowed dogs on the premises.
“But, two minutes before that she said that they exercise discretion in letting dogs in when there aren’t many people around!”
Following the confrontation, the manager told the couple they would have to sit behind a screen.
Kat said: “We were so embarrassed, the people sat around just kept looking and it was causing a scene. I would have understood if they had offered us a refund on the food and told us to leave, or if there had been a complaint that one of the children didn’t like dogs.
“But she just brought the screen across and placed it in front of us. We were treated like second class citizens, I didn’t want to eat my food I was so upset and angry.”
After the ordeal, Kat says she will not return to the garden centre, instead choosing to spend money on other dog friendly venues.
“We don’t have any children. Paolo is like our child he’s part of the family.
“I would advise anyone with a dog visiting Wentworth to visit the actual dog friendly establishments such as George and Dragon, Wentworth or The Rockingham Arms and boycott Wentworth Garden Centre unless you want to end up sat behind a screen like some sort of outcast!”
Rob Monk, of Wentworth Garden Centre, said: “We are sorry that the use of a screen has caused her so much upset and this was not our intention.
“However, we do have a no dogs policy within our restaurant and this has always been the case. In certain circumstances (poor weather) and in less busy times, we do 'bend the rules' and are able to accommodate dog owners within the marquee area of our restaurant.
“We don't believe we are any different to the vast majority of eateries/restaurants where dogs are not permitted inside.
“The majority of our customers would not appreciate dining alongside dogs for many reasons so this is why we have taken this approach (as have virtually all other restaurants we are aware of).
“Dogs are most welcome at the garden centre and we have always been a dog friendly garden centre. Dogs are welcome in all areas apart from the gift shop, restaurant and family farm but are welcome on our restaurant patio and all other outdoor areas.
“There hasn't been any change of policy from our end and this has always been the case.”