Many people with disabilities use service animals to help them cope with everyday life.
While many are familiar with guide dogs (known as guide dogs), numerous other disabilities can be helped with the help of a trained service animal.
According to service dog certifications, multiple sclerosis, sensory disabilities, ALS, cerebral palsy, various intellectual disabilities and more are valid reasons for needing a service animal.
“Service dogs can benefit their owner by performing a physical service or task. Service dogs can assist with a variety of tasks, including opening doors, carrying objects, navigating their owner, providing balance, warning their owners, locating objects and more,” the website explains.
While the American with Disabilities Act has validated this practice and established a strict set of rules that defines what does and does not qualify as a service animal and how service animals should be viewed by companies, those who use service animals can still face discrimination.
One area where this is very evident is ridesharing. While both Uber and Lyft point out that drivers are required by law to accept customers with service animals, in practice this isn’t always the case.
Many users have gone viral after sharing their stories of rideshare drivers who canceled their rides after learning about their service animal. Now another TikTok user has sparked a discussion after sharing his story of ridesharing discrimination.
In a video with over 26,000 views, TikTok user Kai Brunner (@the_windy_alien) says they were turned down three times before an Uber driver picked them up.
@the_windy_alien #screammovie #servicedog #servicedoglife #disability #walmart #discrimination #disabilitydiscrimination #fyp #fypシ #fypdongggggggg #viral #trending #foryoupage #foryou #now #uber #uberdriver #trendingnow #trendingvideo #equalrights #equality ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin the Monkey
In a follow-up video, Brunner reveals that the same thing happened again shortly after.
@the_windy_alien Real footage of me crying overdriver #overdiscrimination #followformore ♬ Ooh Ahh (My life is like) [feat. Tobymac] – grits
In a Facebook direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Brunner says this type of discrimination is common.
“Almost every ride I call I have a problem or get canceled,” they wrote. “But it’s not just Uber that does this to me. have bus drivers [driven] from me or also denied me access.”
Brunner continued by noting that ridesharing apps can do more to educate their drivers.
“I would like to see more clarification on the two questions you can ask for service animals and your rights as a driver. Some drivers have severe allergies and I think it would be unfair to force them to drive with discomfort (plus it can become unsafe). so maybe also exceptions for them with medical documentation,” Brunner wrote. “Even if Uber had something like a quick refresher on their policies, highlighting the important points of driving with them, that might help.”
On TikTok, commenters sympathized with Brunner, and many shared similar stories.
“I use Lyft and don’t tell them about my guide dog. If they pull up and leave, report them,” wrote one user. “I’ve had more success with Lyft than with Uber because I took my dog with me.”
“I had 5 and just felt unsuccessful so I quit,” said another.
“I wouldn’t want dogs in my car either, but it’s literally in the contract they signed,” explained another user.
Some found that ridesharing offers a pet-friendly option. However, as other users retorted, animals like Brunners are not pets. They are helpers for people with disabilities.
As one user put it, “The point is… A person cannot be denied service for having a workhorse with them. That is discrimination.”
“Service animals are an important part of the lives of their owners. They go through years of training, with many not making it that fit. Most handlers don’t want a furry “babysitter” (as I affectionately call mine), but without them we can’t function normally,” Brunner shared on Facebook Messenger. “Please be kind and take care of us. You can do your part by keeping pets away from non-pet friendly places (e.g. grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants), not distracting or disturbing a service animal, following local laws and regulations, and always speaking to the handler first. We are human too.”
We contacted Uber via email.
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*Initial publication: November 26, 2022 at 10:35 am CST
Braden Bjella is a culture writer. His work can be found in Mixmag, Electronic Beats, Schön! magazine and more.
https://www.dailydot.com/irl/uber-canceled-disabled-person-service-dog/ Three Uber drivers cancel the driver over their service dog