Blind women told to put guide dogs in taxi boot
A VISION impaired woman was reportedly denied a taxi ride unless she put her guide dog Daisy in the boot.
Cindy Barrett has only two per cent sight in her right eye and relies on public transport to get her from A to B on a daily basis, and up until yesterday said she's never been refused service in Townsville.
"It was very confronting," Ms Barrett said. "It's hard enough for us to get around as it is; our dogs are our sight and then to be discriminated against."
Ms Barrett was leaving the Townsville Hospital where she visited family when she was told the only way she'd be getting in the car was if her guide dog Daisy went in the boot.
"It's like putting your child in your boot; you just wouldn't do it," Ms Barrett said. "It's dangerous; the dog is not secured in the boot.
"They're trained to sit at your feet between your legs."
Only a day earlier Miss Barrett responded to a social media post on a national guide dog support forum by another woman who was refused service in Townsville for the same reason.
"I replied and said 'you must be so unlucky' then the next day the very same thing happened to me," Ms Barrett said.
Jenny Dahl was responsible for the initial post after she says she was refused a taxi from a hotel near the city to the ferry terminal with her husband and guide dog Ilka.
"As soon as he saw me he just said 'is it all right if she goes in the boot?'," Mrs Dahl said. "I said 'no, she can't be separated and besides you're breaking the law if you refuse to take me'."
Mrs Dahl said a disagreement ensued before the driver drove off with an empty car and left her feeling annoyed and frustrated.
"I avoid taxis because I know this happens," Mrs Dahl said.
"It just reinforces my feelings against using a taxi to start with."
Mrs Dahl was then taken to the terminal by another taxi driver without issue and avoided missing her ferry to Magnetic Island, but says she was so disappointed by the experience she made an official complaint to the company. In Queensland it is illegal for a taxi service to refuse a guide dog unless the driver is allergic, which requires a certificate.
Townsville Taxis fleet compliance officer Brett Hoban confirmed he was investigating a complaint made by Mrs Dahl.
"It is a very serious allegation but we need to take the appropriate steps," Mr Hoban said.
"Our drivers know their obligations and the legislative requirements."
Checker Cabs, the taxi company who Ms Barrett attempted to get a ride through, told the Bulletin they had not received a complaint of any kind regarding the incident.
The maximum penalty for refusing a person with a guide dog in Queensland is $11,000.