“Can you get your dog to sit down please”, the minicab (private hire) taxi driver says. I am sitting in the back of the car my guide dog, Trigger seated quietly at my feet. I therefore assume that the driver wishes Trigger to lie down which, on my command he does.
“Did you tell the company you had a guard dog?” the cabbie asks.
“Yes I told them that I have a guide dog”, (me emphasising the word guide), “drivers have to take guide dogs under the law unless they have a medical exemption certificate stating that they are allergic to dogs”.
“I know. This is the only dog I take”. Why then I ponder inwardly are you asking me whether I told the company as you have taken me previously and, in any case the law obliges you to convey guide and other assistance dogs when accompanied by their owners? I don’t pursue the matter and the vehicle arrives at my destination.
“How much do the company charge for the dog?” the driver asks.
“£5” I answer. In fact the cost of the journey from my home to my destination is £5 irrespective of whether the person being conveyed is accompanied by a guide or other assistance dog and it is illegal to charge extra for carrying assistance animals. I am tired having arisen early so fail to explain this to the driver (he should already be aware of the legislation which came into effect in 2002 and can be found here, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/37/enacted). I give him £5 plus a tip and he goes on his merry way.
Had the company informed my driver that there was a visually impaired person with a guide dog requiring a cab would he, I wonder have picked me up? As it was he was (apparently) unaware of the presence of Trigger and having arrived decided to take Trigger and I to our destination. The law is a blunt, though a very necessary instrument and so far as the rights of assistance dog owners are concerned the legislation has greatly reduced the number of refusals to convey owners accompanied by their assistance animals. It is, however always in the back of my mind when calling a taxi, “will the driver and/or the company make an excuse that there are no drivers available when, in fact there are or will they (despite the law) refuse to convey Trigger and I”.