Travelling with assistance dogs – know your rights

Following cases that have happened nationally and more locally over the past year, Barnsley Council is highlighting the fact that refusing to transport a guide dog or any assistance dog will not be tolerated in the borough.

Under the Equality Act 2010, private hire operators and taxi drivers cannot refuse a booking from a disabled person because they are travelling with an assistance dog, or charge more money for the journey. A driver must have a valid exemption certificate if they are unable to take an assistance dog for medical reasons.

However, according to national research from the organisation Guide Dogs UK, over a one year period:

  • 42 per cent of assistance dog owners were refused entry to a taxi or minicab because of their dog.
  • 33 per cent of assistance dog owners surveyed were refused entry to a minicab or taxi because the driver said they had an allergy, but didn't hold a valid medical exemption certificate as legally required.
  • 20 per cent of assistance dog owners surveyed said that a minicab or taxi arrived but the driver drove off without even speaking to them.

Guide dogs are a vital mobility aid for their users, and being turned away can leave people unable to do everyday activities, and undermine their independence, as well as causing deep hurt to the person involved.

Cllr Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: “Refusing to carry a guide dog or any assistance dog in a licensed vehicle will not be tolerated, and any taxi driver who is found to refuse service in this way faces losing their licence.

There has been a case in in the last year, where a Barnsley taxi driver’s Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Drivers Licence was revoked by the council’s General Licensing Regulatory Board, after he breached his licence conditions by refusing to transport four visually impaired passengers and their guide dog.

“I want to reassure anyone who travels with an assistance dog in Barnsley that should they encounter any difficulty then reporting a particular incident to Licensing will result in positive and supportive action being taken.”

Barnsley Council’s Licensing section can be contacted by email: licensing@barnsley.gov.uk or by calling 01226 773555.

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