CAFE bosses have apologised for turning away a partially blind customer because she had her guide dog with her.

Maureen McKenzie, 58, of Colchester Road, Southend - who was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2011 - visited the Ruby Cafe, in Elmsleigh Drive, Leigh, for lunch with a friend.

She told how she felt embarrassed and upset when bosses told her she could not bring guide dog Polly inside - which is against the law. They have since told the Echo they were unaware of their obligation.

Ms McKenzie, who has only had Polly for a few months, said: “I had just been to my visually impaired class and my friend offered to take me to lunch after.

“We went in the door and my friend introduced me to the owner because she goes there a lot.

“He told me I was not allowed to bring my dog in. I was very taken aback and didn’t really know what to say.

“But he was adamant I couldn’t bring Polly in even after I told him he was legally bound to allow the dog in.

“After I showed him the card that explained the law, he apologised and offered me a seat outside or a seat right by the door.

“I didn’t feel welcome because you should be allowed to sit where you chose, so I told him we would leave.”

A spokesman for the business, who would only give his name as Mr Tak, said Ms McKenzie has been offered a free meal as an apology.

He said: “I genuinely did not know it was a rule with guide dogs and when she told me I offered her a table where there was space.

“It was an genuine, uneducated mistake that we will not make again.

“As we have only been here two years, we’re relatively new to the business and haven’t learnt everything yet but we do not discriminate against anybody.”

Louise Jenkins, from the Guide Dogs charity, said: “Under the Equality Act, guide dog owners have the right to enter the majority of services and premises with their dog. We will be contacting the business owner to increase education and awareness of their legal obligations, and to put a stop to this discrimination.”

Ms McKenzie added: “It’s bad enough losing my sight without being rejected. Polly is well-trained and would never cause trouble for anyone. She always sits right under the table out of the way. It was quite upsetting.”