Blind man files human rights complaint, says service dog not allowed to enter taxi
Mike Simmonds has had enough of being mistreated just because he has a service dog.
Simmonds, who is legally blind, recently launched a human rights complaint against Comfort Cabs in Saskatoon. He said several drivers have told him over the last month his dog cannot enter their taxis.
“Over a period of time I was told I wasn’t able to get taxi service from a number of drivers because of religious beliefs,” he said.
Simmonds claimed he was told by a few drivers that some cabs aren’t pet-friendly. He said he spoke with the company’s manager about the issue, but the problem still persisted.
"He was assuring me there would not be a problem, but next time I would contact a cab there was the problem again,” he said.
The operations manager for Comfort Cabs said he spoke with Simmonds, apologized for the incidents and sent several memos to drivers explaining they must pick up fares with service animals.
A spokesman with the human rights commission said cab companies “must accommodate a patron with a service animal.”
The incidents aren’t the first time he’s been given trouble because of his dog. Simmonds said he had a problem bringing his dog on a city bus earlier this year.
“I would like to know that I don’t have to explain myself when I try and get into a taxi, a restaurant or a bus.”
Danae Mack with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind said service dogs are extremely well trained to remain quiet, focused and unthreatening.
“They are not trained to attack. They will not attack anyone,” Mack said. “It’s trained to ignore cats or squirrels running in front of it. It’s trained to ignore people jumping up and down getting its attention. It’s trained to ignore food on the ground in front of it.”
According to Simmonds, the human rights commission contacted him to say Comfort Cabs is sympathetic to his complaint and wants to amicably work out the problem.