Nova Scotia

Blind woman says taxi refused to take her guide dog

A Dartmouth woman who is legally blind has filed a human rights complaint after a taxi driver left her and her guide dog stranded.

Linda Sheppard has filed a human rights complaint

A Dartmouth woman who is legally blind has filed a human rights complaint after a taxi driver left her and her guide dog stranded outside of a grocery store in the fall.

Linda Sheppard says four years ago she didn't even wear glasses and now she feels discriminated against. (CBC)

Linda Sheppard said the driver didn't want to make room for her guide dog, a yellow Labrador retriever named Torren.

"It was getting dark and I just cried," said Sheppard, remembering the Sept. 5 incident.

Sheppard decided to do something about it and filed a complaint before the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission against the city's taxi and limousine services committee and Bob's Bluebell Taxi company.

The case was scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed due to inclement weather.

Sheppard said it all happened when she was leaving a Sobeys in Cole Harbour with Torren and a cart full of groceries last fall.

An employee from the store called her a taxi.

"The woman at customer service at Sobeys specified it was Linda with her guide dog," Sheppard said.

According to Sheppard when the taxi arrived the driver placed her groceries into the trunk of his car.

She sat her dog in the backseat of taxi where he usually rides, but one of the front seats was pushed back too far, leaving no room for her guide dog.

"So I said to the cab driver, ‘Could you please push the passenger seat ahead?’ and he said, 'No. I am not taking you and he proceeded to take my groceries out of the trunk and left both of us on the curb," Sheppard said.

Sheppard not satisfied with response

After filing a complaint with the city's taxi and limousine services, Sheppard said she wasn't satisfied with the response she received.

Torren, a guide dog, is trained to lie or stand in the back of a cab and not sit on the seats. (CBC)

"[Taxis] need to be held accountable. Right now they are driving around the HRM like free-range chickens," she said.

"They can do what they want, to who they want and there doesn't seem to be any repercussions. That's not right."

Bob's Bluebell Taxi declined to comment on Sheppard's allegations.

Staff at the Halifax Regional Municipality said they couldn't comment on this case because it hasn't yet been called before the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

Tiffany Chase said the city investigates complaints and penalizes taxi drivers who violate city by-laws.

"It could include a ticket to the taxi driver. It could also include additional training or even suspension of a licence or even removal," she said.

Sheppard's case was postponed until April.