Blind Nanaimo woman says she was kicked off bus due to her guide dog


A blind Nanaimo woman is upset after running into problems accessing BC Transit with her guide dog.

Donna Hudon says it happened twice, and she believes drivers have also passed her by because of her dog.

More than a month ago, Hudon, a long-time transit user, was on her way to work and tried to get on a bus when the driver asked for guide dog certification papers.

She showed the driver her service dog card and ID, which show she’s blind.

“I said this is all I have, and he kicked me off the bus,” Hudon told CHEK News in an interview.

She got off, called her daughter and ended up arriving at work late.

“And very upset,” said Hudon.

She complained to the Regional District’s transit manager, who “up and down apologized,” recalled Hudon.

“We are so sorry, Donna. That’s not what should’ve happened.”

Hudon was satisfied with the apology until it happened again. She got on a bus recently when a driver questioned why her dog wasn’t wearing a red vest, something guide dogs don’t have to wear.

She wasn’t kicked off this time, though the driver gave her a hard time, adding to her anxiety about riding a bus.

“This is how I am,” said Hudon. “Is this the bus stop because they all look different? Is this the bus stop? Am I at the bus stop? Did I miss the bus stop or the bus? Is it the right time?”

In a statement, BC Transit says it’s taking this matter very seriously.

“We are investigating this matter with our partners at the Regional District of Nanaimo,” reads the statement to CHEK News.

It says certified guide and service dogs are always allowed on public transit, but it doesn’t include emotional support or therapy dogs.

It also says, “a customer may be asked to produce their Guide Dog and Service Dog Certificate.”

The B.C. & Alberta Guide Dog Association says cases like this one are rare though he understands how some confusion might arise.

“Every organization that’s legitimate in British Columbia has different coloured jackets so we can identify our own people and our own logos on those jackets as well, so that’s what’s misled some of them, but still, I think the behaviour of this particular driver is somewhat dissapointing,” said Bill Thornton, the association’s CEO.

Thornton says his organization will offer its assistance in training Nanaimo bus drivers about those who are blind and their guide dogs.

“When you are stopped like this, it’s a real shocker and very embarrassing, very offputting, and it’s really unnecessary,” said Thornton.

Hudon agrees.

“Your best way of identifying whether that individual has a guide dog is by watching them,” she said.

“I want them to start realizing what a guide dog looks like and not to be harassing us for identification.”

Hudon hopes bus drivers will start seeing situations from the perspective of those who are blind.

In the past, the Canadian Federation of the Blind has called on the taxi industry not to discriminate against riders with guide dogs.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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