Woman with guide dog injured after taxi driver refuses to ferry them

Cassandra and Esme the guide dog walking to her office. Since she got Esme, Cassandra is free to walk at her naturally brisk pace, unlike when she was using a white cane to navigate herself.

Professional counsellor Cassandra Chiu and her guide dog Esme narrowly avoided serious injury after a taxi driver sped off as she was about to board.

The 35-year-old Chiu related the incident in a Facebook post on Tuesday from Esme’s perspective.

The ComfortDelgro taxi driver refused to allow Chiu and Esme to board from the taxi stand at Tanglin Shopping Centre.

During the conversation, Chiu tried to explain that Esme was not a pet. The driver refused, and sped off, causing Chiu to fall and injure her knees.

Another taxi driver nearby helped call a taxi for Chiu, but she wrote that “only the third taxi on call that arrived was willing to take [her and Esme]”.  

ComfortDelGro's group corporate communications officer Tammy Tan told The Straits Times that taxi drivers are not allowed to refuse passengers with caged or muzzled pets except for health or religious reasons. Guide dogs are allowed on board taxis unmuzzled. She said: "Any driver found guilty of rejecting customers without proper and valid reasons will be disciplined."

This is the second run-in Chiu has encountered with taxi drivers. A few months ago, she broke her ribs when a taxi driver tried to drive off.

Earlier this year, she and a friend were refused service at a McDonald’s when a member of its staff thought Esme was a pet.