AVA to investigate case of GrabHitch passenger bitten by driver's dog

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will investigate an alleged dog-biting incident involving a passenger who used the GrabHitch service in the early hours of Sunday (Dec 25).

University student Rushdan Eilyaas, 24, in a Facebook post on Monday, claimed that the driver's chihuahua bit him on the right arm at the end of his ride from VivoCity to Bukit Batok.

The lengthy post - which also outlined several other grievances he had with the male driver, including how the latter was rude and had shown up in a different car from what was indicated in Mr Rushdan's GrabHitch booking - went viral, chalking up over 3,000 shares.

It also garnered more than 700 comments, with several users sharing similar negative experiences they had with the driver and his dog.

Further updates: [02/01/2017 @ 1600hrs] I have received a confirmation email that Grab will be compensating me by...

Posted by Rushdan Eilyaas on Monday, December 26, 2016

Mr Rushdan, who uploaded photos of the dog bite on Facebook, said he had incurred $117.40 in medical bills, including charges for a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Rushdan said he had decided to write about his experience on social media so as to warn other people of the driver's behaviour, which he described as "appalling".

GrabHitch, unlike GrabCar or GrabTaxi, is not a commercial platform for drivers to pick up passengers. The carpooling service matches a passenger with a private car owner going the same way at the same time.

Passengers pay the drivers a basic fare that cover their petrol costs for the ride.

A Grab spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday evening that it will be reimbursing Mr Rushdan his trip fare and medical bills as a "gesture of goodwill". It has also suspended the driver in question for violation of its code of conduct, as he had used a car that was not registered on the Grab platform.

"The GrabHitch team takes a very strong stand on user experience and believes in building a community of drivers and passengers who believe in our community guidelines," the spokesman said.

The spokesman added that Grab does not restrict GrabHitch drivers from bringing their certified pets on board their own vehicles, although it "strongly" encourages them to inform their passengers beforehand.

"Likewise, passengers who plan to travel with their pets should also inform their GrabHitch drivers ahead of time. Both GrabHitch drivers and passengers have full rights to decline a ride should they feel uncomfortable with it... we hope that all Grab drivers and passengers treat each other with mutual respect - and are sensitive to various preferences - so that everyone enjoys the best ride experience."

In response to queries, AVA said it had received feedback from Mr Rushdan and would be investigating the incident.

This article was first published on Dec 27, 2016.
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