Guide-dog owner injured in taxi incident

Guide-dog owner injured in taxi incident
VICTIM OF DISCRIMINATION? Ms Chiu (right) said she and her guide dog, Esme, were denied a taxi ride. She also fell when the cabby drove off.

SINGAPORE - A taxi driver apparently refused to ferry a visually impaired woman with a guide dog and drove off while she was standing near the taxi, causing her to fall and injure her knee.

In a Facebook post which was written in the voice of her guide dog, Esme, counsellor Cassandra Chiu, 35, related the incident, which took place at the taxi stand outside Tanglin Shopping Centre on Monday night.

She wrote that the taxi driver had refused to open the door for her, even after she explained that she was blind and her labrador was a certified guide dog.

Her post said: "The taxi driver's door opened...and, next thing I knew, I was on the floor and the taxi was driving away."

Ms Chiu had to seek treatment at the Singapore General Hospital's Accident and Emergency department to clean up her wounds.

She told The Straits Times yesterday: "Luckily Esme is all right physically, but I am unsure if she has sustained any long-term mental trauma."

In the same post, she also revealed that she was left with fractured ribs a few months ago when another taxi also drove off.

In her post, Ms Chiu said she was told that the taxi involved in Monday's incident was from ComfortDelGro.

In response to queries from ST, Tammy Tan, ComfortDelGro's group corporate communications officer, said: "Under the Land Transport Authority's regulations, cabbies are not allowed to reject passengers with caged or muzzled pets unless they have health or religious reasons.

"The exception, however, does not apply to guide dogs, which are allowed to go on board our taxis without muzzles.

"Any driver found guilty of rejecting customers without proper and valid reasons will be disciplined."

Ms Chiu had previously written about being discriminated against on several occasions when her guide dog was not allowed into some establishments.

She told ST yesterday: "Working guide dogs have been in existence in Singapore for almost 10 years...There have also been many other channels (raising) awareness on guide dogs.

"(While) people may often read that guide dogs are allowed access into public places, their actions may not necessarily reflect this mindset."

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