A blind Connecticut woman says an Uber taxi driver refused to pick her up because of her seeing-eye dog, leaving her stranded.
Amy Dixon said she called up an Uber car on her app in Darien Tuesday night, and a driver confirmed the pickup.
"I can see a little bit out of my right eye, I've got 1 percent left of my vision. So I'm standing there with my guide dog on the curb and a car pulls up, and it's him," she said.
As she put her hand on the door, the driver suddenly revved the engine and took off, stranding her, she said.
"I couldn't believe it. I was flabbergasted," said Dixon. "He took off, and I'm screaming at him, waving at him, waving my arms like crazy thinking maybe he made a mistake, because I was hoping it wasn't what I thought it was."
It wasn't a mistake, it turned out, because within about 10 seconds, Dixon said she received a message on her phone from the driver saying the driver had canceled the pickup.
Dixon was able to get another Uber car to take her home, but she believes the first driver wouldn't pick her up because of her service dog Elvis.
Since Dixon lost her vision seven years ago, she's relied on two things to get around: her service dog Elvis and taxis, including recently, Uber cars.
"My dog is how I get from point A to point B, and a car is what enables us to get where we need to go," she said.
Uber said in a statement it had fired the driver, adding, "The Uber app is built to expand access to transportation options for all, including users with visual impairments and other disabilities. It is Uber's policy that any driver partner that refuses to transport a service animal will be deactivated from the Uber platform, which has been done in this case."
Dixon said she's glad Uber took her complaint seriously, but she thinks the company needs to do more to educate drivers about service dogs.
"It breaks my heart that people aren't educated on the ADA law," she said.
"As soon as they sign a contract to be an Uber driver, they have to obey the law, plain and simple," she said.
Uber said its drivers are informed of ADA regulations, and added that drivers who cannot accommodate animals due to issues like allergies, safety or religious beliefs are advised to wait with the rider until another Uber arrives.