Uber driver refuses to pick up blind paratriathlete with service dog

Posted at 11:27 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 13:30:24-05

If you told Amy Dixon that going blind would open up a new world for her, she would have called you crazy 20 years ago.

"I thought it was a death sentence," Dixon said. "I cried for two months."

Now she is a world-class paratriathlete, training for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

When she's not training with her fitness guides, she relies on her service dog Woodstock to help her.

"He pulls me like a sled dog and navigates me around," Dixon said.

But when Dixon ordered an Uber to take her and Woodstock to swim practice, the driver left her stranded.

“I had 9:30am practice. So I called an Uber around like 8:50 with plenty of time, it said it was seven minutes out,” Dixon said. “I sent her a text message saying ‘Hi, you know, this is Amy and I’ll be outside with my guide dog.' Within 30 seconds I got a notification that the driver had canceled the ride."

She says this is the fifth time that an Uber driver has canceled her ride when they found out about her service dog.

When 10News asked Uber for answers, the company they suspended the driver's account when Dixon filed a complaint, and then banned her for refusing to take the service dog.

According to their website:

"Uber expects partners to comply with all applicable state, federal, and local laws governing the transportation of riders with disabilities. A partner’s violation of such laws, including with respect to the use of service animals, constitutes a breach of his or her contractual agreement with Uber.

Accordingly, service animals must be accommodated in compliance with applicable accessibility laws. Additionally, partners are expected to accommodate riders using walkers, canes, folding wheelchairs or other assistive devices to the maximum extent possible.

Any report of unlawful discrimination will result in the temporary deactivation of a partner’s account while Uber reviews the incident. Confirmed violations of the law with respect to riders with disabilities may result in permanent loss of a partner’s access to the Uber platform."

While Dixon is happy the driver was banned from the app, she can't help but wonder when the next driver will refuse service to someone with a service animal.

"I'd like to be able to be independent enough to get around on my own steam and Uber is an affordable way to do that generally speaking," Dixon said. "But it's only affordable if it works."