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Discrimination against assistance dogs

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The Equality Act of 2010 does its best to allay the fears of people with assistance dogs entering shops and restaurants, and using taxis. But today 3 out of 4 such people are still discriminated against. 

By Nick Whittle, 8 Feb 2019

When BBC journalist Damon Rose ordered a taxi he had already been refused carriage on numerous occasions because he was accompanied by an assistance dog. In May 2018, expecting once more to be faced with a refusal, Rose decided to record his trip using his mobile phone. 

The changing face of discrimination?

Rose opted to travel with Uber. The taxi driver arrived at the journalist’s home and was friendly enough, but when he saw Rose’s dog Deebee his demeanour changed. True to form, the driver refused to accept Rose’s fare on the grounds of an allergy to dogs. 

‘I'm getting sneezy because I'm staying near the dog,’ the driver said. ‘This is going to put me in danger of my health, and surely you don't really want that do you?’

In the UK, any taxi driver who refuses to carry dogs in his cab must have a written declaration from his GP to prove his allergy is real. Although the taxi driver in Rose’s case declared he had such a thing, the video shows otherwise. 

The Uber driver searches through paperwork to reveal nothing. He then tells Rose: ‘You can check with my GP.

This year Transport for London, the company that governs the workings of Uber in London took the taxi driver to court; Rose stood as a witness.  While being cross-examined, the driver maintained he had an allergy despite being unable to prove it still. 

In the end the taxi driver was found guilty of a discriminatory act. He received a fine of almost £1,500. 

A 2015 Guide Dogs survey of over 1,000 owners of assistance dogs revealed that 75% of them had been in some way discriminated against by either shop or restaurant staff or taxi drivers on account of their being accompanied by their dog.