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Seeing Eye Guide Dog User Denied Access to Cab Services

Woman says cab driver refused her a ride because of seeing-eye dog
By Bob Heye KATU News and KATU.com Staff Published: Aug 2, 2013 at 12:40 AM PDT Last Updated: Aug 2, 2013 at 2:04 PM PDT

Deb Marinos says a Broadway Cab driver refused to give her a ride because she had a seeing-eye dog.
PORTLAND, Ore. – A woman who is blind says a Broadway Cab driver refused her service because she had a seeing-eye dog with her.

It all unfolded at Union Station, and an Amtrak worker confirmed what happened to Deb Marinos.

Marinos had gotten off the train and was trying to get to OHSU for a scheduled checkup but a Broadway Cab driver, and then a second cab driver both refused to give her a ride.

“I have a little tiny bit of vision,” she said. “I’m what’s called legally blind, but I have no peripheral vision. So the dog provides me the ability to cross streets and find curbs and doors.”

Marinos rides Amtrak all the time – commuting to work in Salem and Portland and also traveling the country to conferences and legislative assemblies in her job as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Oregon Council of the Blind.

She was stunned when she went to get into a Broadway Cab and the driver refused to let her in.

“And he says, ‘No, she has a dog. I’m not takin’ her. No dogs. Dogs aren’t allowed by the company.'”

A second Broadway driver said he’d take her, but he already had a fare. The next cab back was a Sassy Cab, a subsidiary of Broadway Cab.

“The cab behind him, Sassy Cab, says ‘No, I don’t do dogs either,'” Marinos said. “And then the fourth cab got out to see what all the fun was about and they said, ‘OK, we’ll take you.'”

An Amtrak helper known as Red Cap argued with the cab drivers’ refusals.

“Amtrak is so incredibly good at taking care of us, and the Red Cap today was just absolutely. He was just like all over them and could not believe it – that they’d never had that before where they’ve had someone turned down,” Marinos said.

And if you think allergies to dogs is behind all this, Marinos said that’s not a factor. She’s allergic to dogs. Her service dog breed is hypoallergenic.

KATU didn’t get a response from Broadway Cab Thursday night. City regulations say “No driver shall … refuse to transport to his requested destination any passenger of proper demeanor who is able to demonstrate the ability to pay the fare.”

Marinos met both of those requirements.

A city spokesperson said the city is starting a formal investigation into the incident and that Broadway Cab is cooperating with investigators.