International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners
How New Zealand Handles
Taxi Driver Access Denial
This story is reprinted with the permission of Guide Dog Services - Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind. Next to the article in their newsletter, they reprinted a humorous cartoon that appeared in a leading newspaper with a story about an access denial incident.
The cartoon by Peter Bromhead shows a lady holding up a newspaper with its headline reading: "Taxi Driver Refuses Fare With Guide Dog", while a passerby comments "He was probably concerned that the guide dog would point out the shortest route....!"
Guide Dogs Rights of Passage
A taxi driver who recently refused to carry a Foundation member and her guide dog soon learned he didn't have a leg to stand on.
While Bromhead captured the funny side as the accompannying cartoon illustrates, it was a frustrating, embarassing and unnecessary situation for the woman to have been placed in.
Unfortunately, the Wellington cabbie wasn't alone in his ignorance of the law. Several other cases have since been reported to the Foundation by members.
When a guide dog is denied access to public transport or a public place, then so is his owner. That is a serious human rights infringement, which is why the law makes a special case for guide dogs and states very clearly where they are able to go.
The Dog Control and Hydatids Act 1982 spells out that a guide dog (either working or in training) has the right to go anywhere his or her owner can go either free or for a charge.
This includes aircraft, hovercraft, ferries or other vessels, and trains and vehicles carrying passengers for reward - like taxis or buses.
Anyone who breaches the law could face a jail sentence of up to a year. In the recent Wellington taxi driver's case it was a $150 dollar fine from the Land Transport Safety Authority and an embarassing few minutes on the Holmes Show.
It is quite easy to tell the difference between a guide dog and a pet - all Guide Dog Services dogs were distinctive white (once graduated) or brown (in training) harnesses. Young adult dogs being socialized wear the unmistakable bright red Champ coats and all breeding stock wear bright blue coats.
Next time you see a guide dog at a restaurant or a park or bus, remember, it has the same right as you do to be there!