Thursday, June 09, 2011

Denver cabby license revoked for service-animal cruelty


A Colorado cab driver has been suspended from his job after forcing a blind woman to stow her seeing-eye dog in the trunk because of his pet allergies.

Denver resident Judie Brown was confused when the cabbie told her that the dog had to ride "in the back" of the cab because of he was allergic. When she asked, "Where in the back?" the driver responded "In the trunk," Brown told ABC News affiliate in Denver KMGH 7.

Late for an appointment, Brown reluctantly agreed. The black lab, Alberto, who has been Brown's service dog for four years, whined during the entire ride in the trunk. "It was terribly wrong," Brown said of the situation, and the law is on her side: Colorado state law protects service dogs and their owners, allowing them to ride together in taxis and public transport.

The driver, whose name hasn't been provided by Union Taxi, has since been suspended and fined by the state for violating this law, according to KMGH 7. The cab company declined to comment to ABC News.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. Taxi cabs and restaurants commonly pose a problem for those with service dogs, says Marion Gwizdala, president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users."Most states have criminal penalties for refusing access to service dogs, but one of the major issues is that generally there's ignorance of this law. The Department of Justice clearly states that allergies and fear of animals are not reasons to deny service animals -- unless the allergy rises to the level of disability," he says.If a cab driver can prove that his/her allergy to dogs constitutes a disability, then there would be a conflict as to whose rights are superior, Gwindzala says. But how often is a dog allergy severe enough to qualify as a disability?

Someone with asthma could have a severe asthma attack triggered by having a dog in the car, which could be threatening to his/her health, according to James Sublett, chair of the Indoor Environments Committee at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. While most dog allergy reactions trigger milder symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, and skin rashes, in severe cases, the eyes can swell shut with inflammation -- a reaction that would certainly affect one's ability to drive a cab, he says.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."

AA Comments:
If this happens to you, and you have time to do so, request another cab driver, or call the driver's manager.  Most managers will know your rights, but if they don't, always report it.

Often when we're traveling, we save the names and numbers of cab companies and drivers that have been helpful to us (or at least, not UNhelpful) so we'd recommend also doing this to areas where you frequently travel.  Keeping the personal card of a cab driver is good practice - often they will go out of their way to pick up repeating patrons, and always appreciate the reliable business. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


For many years now we've been following a group in Denver led by adaptive sporter John Vcelka, a longtime supporter of Access Anything's camps and travel guides.  John's dedicated a ton of his time and energy into sharing Colorado adaptive events through an emailed calendar, and he's finally turned this extensive list into a website we're super proud to share!!  John's expanded this list throughout the nation to make it as complete as it can me, an extremely impressive resource that you should all check out!   It includes events about sports, fundraisers, social events, news, equipment for sale, camps, etc specifically for people with disabilities.

While the site is still in progress, John's got over 800 events in 32 states from over 100 groups and foundations.  He is still entering more events every day, and will continue to send out emails about key events and reminders in addition to posting them here:

If you have an event that you would like posted, know of a group that puts on events that are not represented, or would like to give constructive feedback, please email John at

Please note:  This is a completely free website for foundations to post events and for participants to see them.  It is John's intention to provide one place for people with disabilities (any disability) to go to find activities to get them out of the house and active.

John's motto is "the more active you are, the more healthy you are and the happier you will be." 

This has been a major undertaking and we are very excited about what John has been completed so far.  Please show share this site far and wide!!