Cab Drivers Refuse Rides to Blind Dog-Guide Users
Dog guide users have been denied cab rides with increased frequency over the past several months at our Twin Cities International Airport. I’ve experienced it myself. A year and a half ago, my wife and I—and my dog guide—were returning from Biloxi, Mississippi. The cabs were lined up at the airport, yet it took us three tries to finally find a driver who’d take us home. In another incident, to and from the home of my wife’s father, our ride was rejected by each driver, and we had to encourage both drivers to get back into the cab and take us to where we wanted to go. In each of these incidents, I merely wanted to get to my destination, without having to educate a cab driver about how illegal it is to deny me that ride because I use a service animal.
What am I missing? Illegality aside, I cannot figure out why somebody would prefer to make a bad business choice—to not make money—only because of fear and prejudice against those of us who use a dog guide.
In both situations, I explained that these dogs are well trained and they will not touch the driver. But this line of negotiation was not received as successfully as when I threatened them with legal action or that I’d complain to the management of their cab company, either of which may result in that driver paying a fine or temporarily losing their license. I do not want a driver to be denied the ability to work; I just want a ride—which is my legal right. Interestingly, the cab drivers seemed to have no trouble serving us after I made them aware of the penalties involved in not doing so.
Service animals undergo a significant amount of training. Dog guides are trained to sit quietly on the floor, at our feet, as we take our seats in taxi cabs or on buses. The dogs are well groomed to reduce the chance for their fur to cling to the upholstery of the car. The dogs have a single-minded focus; to guide us from place to place. Dog guides do not pose any problem for taxi cab drivers.
Most cab drivers don’t deny rides to those of us who use these well-trained animals, so you may well wonder what’s the problem. Perhaps it’s the unpredictability that is the most difficult for me. Unlike most people, I cannot assume I’ll have a ride when I flag down a taxi cab. It is rather baffling to me why some taxi cab drivers choose, in the face of severe penalties, to make life difficult for those of us who use a service animal. In my experience, however, these are the people who don’t understand the laws and penalties. And once they do, well, we’re on our way.
Notify Rebecca Kragnes, at MN Guide Dog Users, if you have been denied a ride by a taxi [email protected].