Woman with guide dog barred from boarding bus, but driver helps her find a seat

PHOTO: Facebook/Esme The Global Guide Dog & Guide Dogs Singapore

A blind woman was stopped from boarding a bus on Wednesday morning (June 19) after another passenger insisted that her guide dog was not allowed on public transport. 

Cassandra Chiu wrote in a Facebook post that she was trying to board SBS bus service 123 at the bus stop outside Lucky Plaza. 

She was changing buses with her young daughter and her guide dog Elke when the incident happened. 

When she tried to board the bus with her guide dog, another passenger became agitated and tried to stop her from getting on the bus. 

This morning, I took the bus with my daughter to teach her how to get to school on her own When we got to the lucky...

Posted by Elke The Global Guide Dog on Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Chiu tells AsiaOne that the woman initially told her, "Dogs cannot get on the bus." 

Although Chiu's daughter explained to the woman that Elke is a guide dog, she continued to physically block Chiu from boarding the bus. She had to push past the woman to catch her ride. 

Fortunately, the bus driver saw what was going on and helped Chiu on to the bus. He also went the extra mile by going out of his seat and finding a volunteer to give up a priority seat to Chiu and her canine companion. 

Chiu's Facebook post prompted many others to share their thoughts on similar experiences. 

PHOTO: Facebook

Other users were also grateful that the bus driver took notice of the situation and offered help. 

PHOTO: Facebook

Meanwhile, some questioned why the bus didn't have signage saying guide dogs are allowed. Another user wondered what would happen if a guide dog relieved itself on the bus. 

PHOTO: Facebook 

According to SBS Transit and SMRT's websites, guide dogs are allowed on public transport, but it seems that some people are not aware of such a rule. 

Unfortunately, incidents like this are not rare for guide dog handlers. 

Chiu added, "To me, this is not something that is newsworthy, as it happens quite often."

DOGS WITH JOBS

As members of the public, what should we do when we see a guide dog and its handler? 

They may look cute and cuddly but remember, guide dogs are a mobility aid for their visually impaired handlers. 

In fact, both handlers and guide dogs are trained to navigate their way in public using a special set of commands. Hence, any distraction to the dog may cause it to lose its bearings. 

Speaking to AsiaOne, Vanessa from Guide Dogs Singapore shares that when it comes to guide dogs and handlers, it is best to let them be. 

One way commuters can help is to "offer them the seats close to the driver so that they can easily ask the driver for help."

Members of the public should not try petting a guide dog when they are at work as it could be disrespectful to the handler, she added.

If you are confused, here are some pointers to take note the next time you spot a guide dog and their handler. 

PHOTO: Guide Dogs Singapore

kimberlyfoo@asiaone.com

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