A DISABLED teenager who was turned away from a Wetherspoon pub in the North East for having her assistance dog has spoken out about her disgust and disappointment that she was treated “abhorrently” by the management at the venue.

River Cartledge, 19, who suffers with PTSD, chronic arthritis, and fibromyalgia among other things, headed into the centre of Newcastle on Friday (May 6) to visit local pub The Five Swans with her partner Sean and some of their friends.

Despite entering other Wetherspoon venues with her assistance dog, Chico, in the past – the 19-year-old was shocked to see managers at The Five Swans blocking her entry – while talking “condescendingly” and “rudely” to her.

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According to the manager at the pub, shih tzu Chico, who helps monitor River’s heart rate and can pull emergency cords in bathrooms if she passes out, “wasn’t a guide dog,” and couldn’t enter the pub.

After her “awful” and “discriminatory” treatment at Wetherspoons, the teenager took to social media to highlight her experience, which included sharing a video of the exchange between herself and the pub’s management.

In the footage, the manager can be heard saying that it was “policy” that the assistance dog couldn’t enter the premises, while adding that River and her party were “not getting in so I suggest you move along".

The Northern Echo: River, 19, and Chico the shih tzu. Picture: RIVER CARTLEDGE.River, 19, and Chico the shih tzu. Picture: RIVER CARTLEDGE.

Since it was first shared on Friday evening, it has garnered thousands of supportive messages, numerous views, with the 19-year-old now keen to spread awareness that assistance dogs should be able to venues.

The Equality Act 2010 bans service providers - including taxis, pubs, and restaurants - from discriminating against those who need an assistance dog with them.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, she said: “A few days on from it, I feel a little better, but I’m still upset about the incident. I’m happy that I could use my platform as a disabled person, but I’m sad that I had to go through this to be able to speak out.

The Northern Echo: The pair were banned from The Five Swans pub in Newcastle on Friday (May 6). Picture: RIVER CARTLEDGE.The pair were banned from The Five Swans pub in Newcastle on Friday (May 6). Picture: RIVER CARTLEDGE.

“What upset me the most is that it wasn’t company policy because Chico has accompanied me to other Wetherspoons pubs in Newcastle. It was just one manager who had a problem with the whole thing and banned me from the venue.”

“I want people with disability to feel confident that they can get in any venue, just like anyone else can – I want this to be a turning point and I’m hoping that this manager who had an issue sorts herself out.”

Following the incident, Wetherspoon responded to the incident by issuing an apology to the disabled teenager and making it clear that she would be welcome if she chose to return to The Five Swans.

The Northern Echo: Chico helps monitor River's heart rate. Picture: RIVER CARTLEDGE.Chico helps monitor River's heart rate. Picture: RIVER CARTLEDGE.

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "It was a genuine error and we apologise wholeheartedly.

"We can understand the fact the customer would have been upset and frustrated by the situation.

"Assistance dogs are allowed into Wetherspoon pubs, and we will reiterate this to staff at the pub and the company's pubs in general."

The Northern Echo: The Five Swans in Newcastle. Picture: GOOGLE.The Five Swans in Newcastle. Picture: GOOGLE.

Despite the apology from the pub chain, River believes it is a move to “cover the back” of the company, and wants a direct apology, which she hasn’t yet received.

She added: “To be discriminated in this way makes me feel targeted, and at a low point. Yes, they’ve issued a statement to media outlets, but they haven’t given me a genuine apology.

“Things must change, people need to be educated and tolerant of other people’s needs.”

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