In September, 2016, an Uber driver in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, refused to give a ride to a man with a service dog. Thomas Jones, with guide dog Blake, needed a lift home from the grocery store.
Jones has retinitis pigmentosa, and has completely lost sight in one eye. Blake helps him with everyday chores and around campus when he goes to classes.
No Dogs in Her Car
When the Uber driver arrived at the grocery store, Jones started to get in. But then the driver asked if wasn’t going to put his dog in a cage. He explained that Blake was his service dog.
The driver said she couldn’t have dogs in her car, cancelled the ride and drove off. Said Jones, “You have a buggy full of groceries and, you know, you are trying to hurry up and get home. I was really hurt.”
Uber Allows Service Dogs
Jones called the police to file a report. They drove him home and he let Uber know what had happened. The company immediately took action. They have suspended the driver for the time being, while they consider deactivating her account on a permanent basis.
Uber says that all drivers go through training that makes it clear that service dogs are allowed in vehicles. The videos they must watch explain that drivers must let service animals ride on the floor of the vehicle’s backseat, close to the passenger.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, any business that serves the public is required to accommodate service animals.
Jones said he hopes his story serves as a lesson to other Uber drivers and anyone who comes in contact with a service dog. He wants to the word to get out to educate people dealing with the public.
Register Your Service Dog
One way to reduce the chance of potential problems is for service dog and emotional support animal owners to register their pets and have a service dog vest on dog when in public, according to the experts at USA Service Dog Registration. It is free and quick, a simple three-step process.
Three types of registration are available:
Service dogs: Service animals help people with disabilities, including pulling a wheelchair, PTSD, seizure alert, medical alert and more. By law these animals are allowed full access in public places.
Emotional support animal: An emotional support animal is any pet that provides therapeutic benefit to those with anxiety or psychiatric disability. These animals have limited public access rights, including housing and flying in-cabin with no additional fees. These animals are covered by the Fair Housing Act, Air Carriers Act and other federal laws.
Therapy dogs: these dogs provide comfort and affection to people in nursing homes, hospitals and schools. These animals do not have the rights accorded to service dogs or emotional support animals.
The registration is free. You can also purchase service and emotional support animal certificates, ID cards, tags and dog vests at the online store.
The company offers an official emotional support animal letter, either for housing or travel or both, from a doctor on staff. Purchase includes a telephone interview with the doctor to discuss your condition.
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