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Cabs turning away guide dogs a rampant problem in Toronto: Advocate

"It’s like saying, ‘Sorry I don’t take blacks or women.'"

Kaye Leslie and her service dog, Jordan. By law, taxi drivers cannot refuse access to service dogs trained to help people with disabilities.

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Kaye Leslie and her service dog, Jordan. By law, taxi drivers cannot refuse access to service dogs trained to help people with disabilities.

Kaye Leslie can’t count the number of times she’s hailed a Toronto cab and been turned away.

“I once had a guy drive off quickly as I was getting into the car,” she said. “It’s very upsetting and quite dangerous.”

Leslie, an advocate with The Seeing Eye who has limited vision, said cabbies refusing to pick up people with guide dogs are a problem running rampant in the city.

“It’s like saying, ‘Sorry I don’t take blacks or women,’” she said. “If you can’t accommodate people you shouldn’t be driving a cab.”

A leader at one cab company is promising to hit the streets for a solution.

Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck Taxi, has promised to team up and test the waters first-hand with a woman who says she was turned away multiple times.

The pair intends to carry out a sting the next time Ann Gallery visits the city.

Gallery complained to Beck — along with Uber and Diamond Taxi — after being turned away by cabs because she was accompanied by her guide dog in training, Maddie.

Gallery, who’s from B.C., said she’s had no response from Diamond, and Beck has been able to track down the driver who gave her the snub.

Uber, meanwhile, has fired the person responsible.

For Hubbard, testing the waters is the only way to know what’s really happening.

“For us, to refuse service to someone with a dog, any dog at all, is a problem,” she said. “But to refuse service to someone with an actual guide dog is absolutely unacceptable."

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