‘I was told my guide dog was too hairy’ by taxi firm says Carrick man

Tony Barclay and guide dog Wallace.
Tony Barclay and guide dog Wallace.

A Carrick guide dog owner has welcomed new support to assist those facing discrimination which includes a guide to making a complaint.

Tony Barclay, a member of RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) NI’s Network Committee, says that he has encountered numerous refusals of service over the years.

He explained: “A taxi firm once told me their drivers did not want to carry my long-haired guide dog as he was ‘too hairy’.

“Previously, I was refused access to a restaurant, whose staff insisted I tie the dog outside.

“My three companions and I tried for 20 minutes to explain that he was a working guide dog, and they eventually allowed us access, but only to a table immediately adjacent the door.”

He claimed that the establishment would then only accept an order for just a main course.

Tony said that he was so outraged at the “unfair and illegal treatment” of him and his guide dog that he took the restaurant to court and won his case.

He added: “I am constantly expecting to be refused access in restaurants.

“I have been challenged to prove my guide dog is actually a guide dog when flying with an airline. This has happened to me several times when flying with a guide dog.

“I do anticipate a refusal almost everywhere I have not been before.

“After some 25 years of guide dog partnership, it continues.”

Guide Dogs, supported by 30 organisations, including the RNIB, is calling for the government to introduce mandatory disability equality training for all taxi and minicab drivers to help prevent refusals from taking place.

Tony added: “Anything that helps break barriers or misconceptions has to be a bonus. Whilst things have improved, one can never be sure when or where the next challenge will appear.”

The new pack contains details of a guide dog owner’s rights, a step-by-step guide to making a complaint, an example complaint letter, a summary of the law and information about the service provider’s obligations.

It is available from local Guide Dogs teams, or from RNIB 0303 123 9999.