Regina man with seeing-eye dog says taxis refused service

A Regina man says is hoping for tolerance, after he says he and his service dog were denied taxi rides on Saturday.

John Bishop says he and his service dog Telly were denied service on Saturday

John Bishop, who is visually impaired, uses his service dog Telly to help him get around. (CBC)

A Regina man is asking for more tolerance for seeing-eye dogs after he says he was refused service by multiple taxis on Saturday. 

John Bishop, who is visually impaired and travels with his service dog, Telly, was at a restaurant on Broadway Avenue Saturday evening.

Bishop went outside to hail a cab, but said he couldn't find one that would take him and his dog.  

"I guess because I had the dog with me. I guess they don't like dogs," Bishop said. 

John Bishop says he and his dog Telly were denied service by taxis in Regina on Saturday. (CBC)

Bishop said one driver told him Telly would have to ride in the back. When he expressed concern about this, he said the driver took off.

Two witnesses, Robert Puff and Matt Vandeven, said they saw both Regina Cabs and Capital Cabs show up and refuse Bishop and Telly. 

"The look on his face when he was denied access. To see a grown man feel ashamed it was just heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking," Vandeven said.

The two witnesses ended up waiting outside with Bishop. When no cab took him, Puff opted to drive the man and his dog home himself.   

Right to a service animal 

According to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Act, people with service animals are offered protection to be in public with that animal.    

Christall Beaudry, provincial director of the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, says that gives anyone with a service animal the right to access public services.

It actually happens in a lot more places than people think.- Christall Beaudry, CNIB

"Whether that's in a restaurant or a cab or on public transportation, they're allowed full accessibility with that animal," Beaudry said. 

Violating these rules can come with fines of up to $1,000. 

Despite that, Beaudry said it's not uncommon for people with service animals to be turned away from cabs or restaurants.

"It actually happens in a lot more places than people think," she said. 

Neither cab company would agree to an on-camera interview with CBC, but Capital Cabs said it has since found the driver responsible and fired him. 

Bishop said he hopes people learn to be a bit more understanding. 

"It's not a pet. It's a service dog," Bishop said. "It would be nice to see them be more tolerable."

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