Driver denies dog
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.