Does the type of service dog someone has matter? The Doctors weigh in on a recent report of a man allegedly kicked off a San Francisco cable car because the operator reportedly did not feel safe around his pit bull service dog. Veterinarian Dr. Arvid Edward, star of Amazon’s “Pet Doctors of Atlanta,” joins us to discuss the story that has gone viral on Facebook.
“The key word is 'service' dog,” Dr. Edward says, explaining that service dogs can range from helping people with physical to psychiatric disabilities and notes that service animals are covered under local, state and federal protections. “To get kicked off the cable car was a big no-no because of fear. Fear is not a valid reason to deny service to service dog,” he continues.
He goes on to say that there are conflicting reports whether the man’s dog, Rosie, was a service dog or an emotional support dog. If the dog was used for emotional support, then the animal could have been asked to leave the cable car. If Rosie is a designated service dog, then she would have been more protected.
So how should people approach a situation with a dog when it’s not clear if it’s a true service dog or an emotional support dog and does the breed of the dog matter?
Dr. Edward says that 90 percent of the pit bulls he encounters in his practice are sweet and loving dogs, but acknowledges that many people are fearful of the breed. “I tell people all the time, when you’re getting a dog, you’re also getting the stereotype that comes with that dog,” he says. “If it was a Goldendoodle, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now.”
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency released to The Doctors regarding the incident. “We understand that some riders need service animals to reach their destination and we want to ensure they can do that safely and as easily as possible. From riders to employees, public transit is a place where people from all walks of life come together and we are committed to giving each rider access to a safe, efficient and reliable ride,” the statement reads.
According to a report, the man is contemplating legal action and SFMTA is said to be investigating the incident.