The case of a blind woman who says a cab driver refused to pick her up is leading to more visually-impaired people speaking out about taxi service in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Linda Sheppard is legally blind. She has filed a human rights complaint after a taxi driver allegedly left her and her guide dog stranded outside of a Cole Harbour grocery store in the fall. Her case that was scheduled for Wednesday was postponed due to weather.
Barry Abbott, who is also blind, said most times he calls a cab, he doesn't have a problem.
But Abbott said he has also heard just about every excuse possible from drivers who don't want to take his dog.
"We had a gentleman downtown who refused to take our dogs. My wife is blind as well and we have two guide dogs and his excuse was that the dogs would fight," he said.
Abbott said he's even had some Muslim drivers refuse his animal, saying dogs are dirty and against their religion.
"I just think it's a very personal thing. I don't think it has anything to do with the religion as much as just the person using it to their own advantage," he said.
Jamal Badawi, a Halifax Imam and religious studies professor emeritus at St. Mary’s University, said there is nothing in the Qur'an or Muslim teachings that says dogs are to be avoided.
"This is not a universal interpretation of this so I think what is needed here and that's what I'm proposing is perhaps proper education," said Badawi.
Abbott said sometimes he has worked out a disagreement with a cab driver on the spot and that's the end of it.
According to the HRM, three visually impaired people officially complained to the city last year — two of those complaints had to do with service dogs.
Known allergies are one of the few reasons a driver can refuse a fare, but there's a catch.
"That medical condition would have to be backed-up by documentation from a doctor in support of that and it would be placed on file," said Kevin Hindle, HRM's regional coordinator for licensing standards and taxi and limousine services.
Shelley Adams, with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, said people with service animals have rights.
"The rights of somebody who has a service animal is that the service animal is allowed with them in any public space, whether it’s a hotel, a mall, an airplane — my dog sits at my feet … a bus, a cab — anything. They’re allowed to be there," she said.