Man causes scare with ‘service snake’ at Missouri restaurant

WATCH ABOVE: A man who brought a snake into a Missouri restaurant last week claims the reptile is his service animal. Linda Russell has the story.

A man caused an uproar at a restaurant in Missouri last week after claiming a snake he brought in with him was a service animal.

Lisa Loeffelholz and her mother, Terri Pitts, were at El Puente’s, in Nixa, Mo., on Aug. 13 when they noticed a couple come into the diner with a snake.

“We had just gotten our meal and in walks this lady and man, and the lady had the snake around her neck at first, and it started to slither off of her neck down into the booth behind her,” said Lisa Loeffelholz to KY3 news.

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The customers began to feel nervous about the animal in the booth near them so they expressed their concerns to their server.

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Loeffelholz said the manager of the restaurant was going to let the couple keep the reptile in the diner because one of the pet’s owners said it was his “service snake.”

That didn’t ease Loeffelholz and Pitts’ anxiety, so the two decided to leave, but not before approaching the man and asking if the snake was in fact a service animal.

“He said, ‘No, it’s my service animal.  And I’m allowed to have it because it helps me with my depression.’”

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Loeffelholz said she was sorry to hear about the man’s depression but bringing a snake into a restaurant “probably is not the best thing.”

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To which the man replied: “It’s no different than having a dog service animal sitting here.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The rule states that other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals.”

Man causes scare with ‘service snake’ at Missouri restaurant - image

Jill Finney, the city’s communications director, told KY3 news the restaurant owner didn’t know what to do because he didn’t want to violate anyone’s rights, therefore he took the man’s word that his snake was a service animal.

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