In order to ride in a Denver (Colorado) Union Taxi Cooperative Cab, the driver told Judy Brown she had to put her dog guide Alberto in the trunk of his car.
Denver media picked up on the story.. Said Brown, “I never hear my dog whine or crying. Ever. Ever. I knew it was terribly wrong.”
Brown told Denver Connection that she didn’t challenge the driver because she was late for an appointment. Brown could have climbed into the cab with Alberto. She could have then educated the driver or contacted the cab company manager and any state department that advocates for the rights of assistance dogs and handlers. Colorado law allows for use of guide, service and hearing dogs on “airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, streetcars, boats, or taxis.”
The law also states that nobody can interfere with “any assistance dog accompanying a person when that dog is being controlled by or wearing a harness normally used for dogs accompanying or leading persons with disabilities.” Interference can include a person, firm or corporation that tries to deny or deprive a person with disabilities of his or her rights.
Did the cab driver interfere with the handler’s use of a dog guide?
To put any dog in the trunk of a vehicle is unsafe for the dog as well as handler, with the restricted air flow and risk of suffocation. Denver Connection writer Mark Stewart said the trunk was a closed trunk. Were there air holes in the trunk of that cab? How long of a cab ride was it? To put a dog in the trunk of a cab and drive across town is a life-threatening situation.
Is Brown at fault for agreeing to put her dog guide in the trunk? Is the driver at fault? Are both equally at fault?
The company website stated, “Union Taxi Cooperative is available when you need us to make sure that you get where you need to go. Our drivers know the area inside and out, and will always give you prompt, polite, friendly service. We value our customers and do everything in our power to make sure that your ride with us is as comfortable as it is timely and safe.”
Was the UTC cab driver “polite”? Did that driver make Brown’s ride with him “comfortable”, “timely” and “safe”?
Colorado’s Attorney General’s Office and Public Utilities Commission (PUC) can fine cab drivers. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaints go to the Attorney General’s office. the cab driver was suspended and fined, but not fire because he is a partial owner of the cab company.
If a cab driver requested a dog guide handler to put his/her dog in the trunk of a cab, would you do it? That has never happened to me, but I’ve had my share of problems with cab drivers in the plus-12 years I have used dog guides. One incident happened a few years ago. A cab driver pulled up in front of the grocery store where I was waiting. When he saw my dog, he began to pull away as I walked toward his vehicle. A bus buddy saw the drama unfold and he and two other Good Samaritans blocked the cab. We educated the driver on the spot. He got back in the cab and drove my dog guide and me to my home.
The Colorado driver was fined by the state. That makes this case a public matter. As a public matter, the name of the driver can be released but that hasn’t happened. Should the name be published? What should happen to Brown and her dog guide Alberto?
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments here, as this is a public matter that should be discussed. What should happen in regard to Brown and her guide dog?
Clarence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org