Nova Scotia

Woman and seeing-eye dog refused entry into cab

A woman was refused service from a taxi driver at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on the weekend because of her seeing-eye dog. She is reminding drivers it is illegal without a doctor's note.

Shelley Adams and her guide dog, Pogo, just wanted to get home after business trip

Pogo has been a part of Shelley Adams's life for more than five years. (Eileen McInnis/CBC)

Shelley Adams had just returned from a business trip with her seeing-eye dog, Pogo. Her flight was two hours late and she just wanted to get home. 

Adams, who works for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and is legally blind, joined the long line of people waiting for a cab. 

When it was her turn, Adams went to get into a cab but the driver told her he had allergies and the dog couldn't get in.

"I do hear that quite often and I said unless you have a note on file from your doctor saying you have allergies — severe allergies to dogs — you're not allowed to refuse me. It is illegal," she told CBC's Information Morning

"I want to get home like everyone else."

Normally, Adams said she is not shy about arguing this point when she encounters it from time to time. But, too tired to fight, she took the driver's card to pursue the matter later and got into another cab.

"We don't choose to have these dogs in our lives, I mean we love them but if I wasn't blind I would not have a dog," she said. 

"And he has given me independence and freedom I never knew before and service dogs do that for so many other people."

Shelley Adams just wanted to get home after her flight was delayed but a Halifax cab driver refused to drive her seeing-eye dog, Pogo. (Eileen McInnis/CBC)

Pogo has been a part of Adams's life for more than five years. She said Pogo is "an extension of me." 

"He's my eyes, he keeps me safe. We're together all the time and I can't imagine not having him. I've had a guide dog in my life for 12 years now and I never want to go without." 

Illegal to refuse service animals 

Since it's illegal to refuse working service dogs entry into businesses or cabs under the province's Service Dog Act, Adams made a complaint to Halifax Regional Police. They told her she would have to pursue the matter with the Halifax International Airport Authority.

Nicole Scaplen, speaking for the airport, said there were two complaints this weekend about taxi drivers refusing service dogs.

Scaplen said after an investigatiion, the airport authority confirmed one of the drivers had a medical letter on file, though she couldn't say whether that was the driver who refused Pogo.

"If there is no medical reason for him not to provide that service, he or she would be subject to disciplinary action," said Scaplan.

The maximum fine for refuses a service dog is $3,000. 

Adams also contacted the taxi licensing board, which spoke to the driver who refused her. She was told the driver said he has allergies but said he didn't know he needed a note. It's not clear if the driver will be fined. 

Pogo 'cleaner than most passengers'

In terms of mitigating allergies, Adams said part of having a guide dog is ensuring Pogo is clean. 

"I'm a professional person and my dog needs to be professional and clean as well so he has the proper grooming all the time," she said. "He doesn't smell.

"I mean if he's wet and out in the rain, then obviously dogs do have a scent after they're wet but he's a very clean dog and most drivers that I have conversations with about these things say he's cleaner than most passengers that get in his car."

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia

With files from Information Morning