Blind World Magazine

South Africa.
Casino denies entry to guide dog.

January 16 2006.
Independent Online - Cape Town, South Africa.

Pam is Lisa Bensch's eyes. The golden retriever has been at Bensch's side throughout the length and breadth of the country. She has flown in planes, been to posh restaurants and attended lectures with her.

But on Sunday night, Bensch claimed that "her eyes" were barred entry into Carnival City by the casino's security manager.

Bensch, who is almost totally blind, had never been to a casino before, and on Sunday night her boyfriend, Quintin Teixeira, decided to take her to Carnival City for a first-time flutter.

"The idea was to go onto the floor and gamble R20 or R30 so that Lisa could experience it," said Teixeira, who is also blind.

Bensch, a psychology student at the University of Cape Town, was visiting Teixeira during her varsity break. The two have been involved for seven years, having met in matric, while they were both sighted.

Bensch got to the entrance of the casino and was told that no animals were allowed. She began to explain to the security guard that the golden retriever was her guide dog.

Teixeira said: "The security manager came and he also told us we couldn't go in. He said it was a gambling board ruling, which I don't believe because I have been into Montecasino with Admiral, my guide dog."

An angry crowd gathered and began demanding that Pam be allowed in.

"It got really ugly," said Teixeira.

"People were shouting and swearing. We asked the security manager for his name but he refused to tell us, and, according to some in the crowd, he wasn't wearing a name tag."

The manager apparently insisted that the casino had previously refused entry to a blind person who had tried to gain entry with a guide dog.

Annoyed by their experience, the couple decided to leave, with Teixeira vowing never to step inside Carnival City again.

No one from the casino was available for comment on Sunday night.

There was, however, one winner in all of this.

"I think Pam enjoyed all the attention," said Bensch.

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