Ottawa woman says she was denied Uber ride because of guide dog

An Ottawa woman wants an Uber driver off the roads and more accountability after she says she was once again refused a ride because she has a guide dog.

Shelby Travers, who is blind, ordered an Uber on Thursday in the area of Holland Avenue and Scott Street. She says the driver had a hard time finding her despite multiple calls to him about the exact location of where she was waiting with her guide dog Frances.

“He said ‘Holland is a country, where are you?’ which at that point I just felt like I was being mocked because Holland is a street,” Travers says.

She says when the driver did eventually find her she didn’t have the chance to get in.

“As I put my hand on the door handle he unrolled the window, said ‘I don’t take dogs.’ As I was saying I’m blind, she’s my guide dog he drove away with me still holding onto the car and then I just broke down...my arm felt like it was yanked out.”

Uber says it is upset by the experience described and that “driver-partners who use the Uber app agree to accommodate riders with service animals and comply with all accessibility laws.”

“I think there needs to be more enforcement of these actual discrimination acts,” Travers says.

Travers says she was told the driver might be taken off the roads. She has had similar experiences in Toronto and Calgary.

“This is a bigger issue than just Uber,” Travers says. “I want this to stop happening. I want the lives of people who are blind to be respected.”

Canadian laws prohibit discrimination against riders with service animals, including denying them service.

Uber’s own policy states that those who engage in discriminatory conduct could lose their ability to drive for the company.