A Colorado cab driver has been suspended after forcing a blind woman to put her seeing-eye dog in the trunk because of his pet allergies.
The woman, who was late for an appointment, reluctantly agreed. The black lab, Alberto, who has been Brown’s service dog for four years, whined during the entire ride in the trunk.
Colorado state law protects service dogs and their owners, allowing them to ride together in taxis and public transport.
The situation embodies a common conflict between those with dog allergies and those requiring service dogs for a disability. Disability laws protect those with service dogs, but do not usually protect those with allergies.
Even for those with merely annoying symptoms, one ride with a dog could leave dander in the car for several weeks unless cleaned thoroughly, Sublett says.
Given the laws that protect service dogs, what’s an allergic cabbie to do?
“The driver has a reasonable right to avoid contamination of his cab with dog dander,” says Miles Weinberger, director of the Pediatric Allergy and Pulmonary Division at the University of Iowa.
However, he adds, the driver also has an “obligation to ensure that an alternative taxi is promptly available. Putting the dog in the trunk is not an acceptable alternative.”