Driver de­nies dog

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

BLIND man Bill Pike is urg­ing cab­bies to lift their game af­ter strug­gling to get a ride with his guide dog Eden.

Mr Pike and a friend de­cided to catch a taxi to St Luke’s Mall af­ter spend­ing some time at a Mt Al­bert cafe on June 15.

The cafe owner, Parhakar Rao, called a taxi firm and told the op­er­a­tor that a guide dog would be join­ing the pair.

No cab ever ar­rived so Mr Rao ap­proached a driver parked in a nearby taxi rank on New North Rd and asked him to take the fare.

‘‘He was about to do that, then I told him they had a guide dog. He went bal­lis­tic and he said ‘no dogs al­lowed in my taxi’,’’ Mr Rao says.

‘‘I couldn’t be­lieve some­one would show such a lack of com­pas­sion for an old blind man.’’

Mr Rao ap­proached the driver of an­other car who even­tu­ally gave the two friends and labrador a ride.

But Mr Pike says even that driver was re­luc­tant to let the dog in the front where it has been taught to sit be­tween its owner’s legs.

‘‘This is a pro­ce­dure to keep the dogs and pas­sen­gers safe, be­cause a dog in the back will be­come a fly­ing mis­sile if the driver brakes hard,’’ he says.

The San­dring­ham res­i­dent says he’s had sim­i­lar dif­fi­cul­ties twice be­fore.

‘‘I feel a bit an­noyed, but mostly I feel sorry for the taxi driv­ers be­cause there is some­thing wrong with their train­ing pro­gramme.’’

Mr Pike says some driv­ers are put off by an­i­mal hair but need to be aware of wider is­sues.

‘‘Th­ese dogs are al­lowed to go any­where hu­mans can go, they have the same rights,’’ he says.

‘‘Th­ese dogs are absolutely essen- tial to our mo­bil­ity.

‘‘With­out this dog I can’t move,’’ he says.

The rights of guide dogs are out­lined un­der the Hu­man Rights Act 1993 and the Dog Con­trol Act 1996.

It is il­le­gal to refuse pas­sage to peo­ple with guide dogs with­out good rea­son.

Driv­ers have grounds to say no if they be­lieve peo­ple are drunk or on drugs or if they fear for their safety.

Taxis and shut­tles are gov­erned by the New Zealand Trans­port Au­thor­ity.

Spokesman Ewart Barns­ley says there have been cases where driv­ers have sought spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion to turn down fares like Mr Pike be­cause they are al­ler­gic to an­i­mals.

‘‘Other taxi com­pa­nies should adopt such an ap­proach, but they must bear in mind that they still need to pro­vide a taxi for the dis­abled per­son,’’ Mr Barns­ley says.

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