Driving down the 'ruff' treatment of assistance dogs | Sevenoaks District Council

Driving down the 'ruff' treatment of assistance dogs

Published: Thursday, 18th July 2019

To help people with assistance dogs have the ‘pawfect’ taxi journey, Sevenoaks District Council is making sure everyone is aware of the law around carrying canine companions.

It’s against the law for any taxi driver to refuse or charge extra for an assistance dog, such as a guide dog or a hearing dog.

A taxi driver can only refuse to carry an assistance dog if they have a medical condition that’s aggravated by exposure to dogs and they have an exemption from the Council. If this is the case, the driver would have to display a special badge showing they are exempt from carrying assistance dogs.

The Council’s Cabinet member for Cleaner and Greener, Cllr Margot McArthur, says: “Assistance dogs allow those who require them to have freedom, so being refused or charged extra for a taxi journey can really impact their confidence and ability to go about their everyday lives. Although reported cases are rare in this District, it’s something we take seriously as we care deeply about our residents’ wellbeing.”

Guide Dogs Engagement Officer, Siobhan Meade, adds: “Often, refusals happen because drivers do not understand that their actions can impact the independence of people like me who are blind or visually impaired. Most drivers are helpful and kind, but to those who would consider refusing to take someone because they have a guide dog I ask them to imagine they couldn’t see.”

Residents who have been refused a taxi ride or charged extra because of an assistance dog, should contact the Council right away so it can look into the complaint.

To help with the investigation, the Council is asking for as much information as possible. This could include the name and telephone number of the taxi company, when the booking was made, the beginning and the end of the journey, the taxi plate number (fixed to the back of taxi), a description of the driver and a summary of the conversation.

Please email the details to licensing@sevenoaks.gov.uk or call 01732 227004.