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Welling: Visually impaired man with guide dog refused cab journey

PUBLISHED: 15:01 28 October 2011

Mark White with his guide dog Teal

Mark White with his guide dog Teal

Archant

A visually impaired resident said he felt like a “second class citizen” when two drivers at a cab firm refused to allow his guide dog to travel in the front of the car with him.

Mark White, 43, of Chaucer Road, Welling, has retinitis pigmentosa and cataracts which causes damage to the retina and has resulted in him being partially sighted.

He contacted Carlton Cars last Friday and requested a cab but was sent two drivers one after the other who both said they would not allow his Labrador Retriever cross to sit on the floor by his feet.

Mr White said: “The driver wanted to put my dog in the back but he has to travel with me to help me in and out of the car.

“I was fuming, this has not happened before, the firm are usually very good.

“There are a lot of guide dog owners out there who are more vulnerable than me and this makes you feel like a second class citizen.

“I was absolutely disgusted and requested another car with someone who would not do this but I was sent another driver who did the same thing.

“I’ve used the company for six years and nothing like this has happened before.”

Mr White, who does not work due to his disability, was told that it would be dangerous if the dog travelled in the front of the car.

The second driver informed him that he could only let the dog in the front if he paid £25 for a valet after the journey.

This is despite the fact that he was advised by Guide Dogs, an organisation which campaigns for the rights of visually impaired people that the dog must travel in the front of the vehicle with its owner.

Director of Carlton Cars, Eddie Townson, said: “We gave him a free journey to compensate him for what happened and when he called the office I picked him up and took him home.

“The two drivers misunderstood what he said, they were willing to take the dog in the back of the car.

“They will be sent on a disability awareness course.

“Mr White is welcome to write a letter of complaint.”

■ If you are a guide dog owner and have had a similar experience contact Mark by email white.c10@sky.com

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