Ryan King’s autism support dog Walter was initially refused access to a TransLink community shuttle on Nov. 10, despite the fact the BC Guide Dog-certified yellow lab had all the proper documentation as well as the signature blue vest. (File photo)

TransLink apologizes for White Rock driver’s autism-support dog comment: grandma

Investigation into Nov. 10 incident ongoing

A White Rock woman who filed a complaint with TransLink after a driver initially denied bus access to her grandson’s autism-support dog says she has received an apology.

READ MORE: Autism support dog refused bus access for being a ‘pet’

Margaret Kay told Peace Arch News Monday (Nov. 18) that she received an email “basically saying that they apologize for the comment that the bus driver made” on the day in question.

The email didn’t specify which comment, but Kay emphasized that TransLink has also advised that their investigation into the matter is ongoing, and she is hopeful it results in better education and awareness around service dogs in public.

TransLink officials on Friday confirmed that its customer support team had reached out to Kay, but would not disclose any details of the interaction to PAN, citing privacy.

Kay filed a complaint with the bus company on Nov. 10, after she and her grandson Ryan King were told by a community shuttle driver that they couldn’t bring King’s autism-support dog, Walter, on board as he was “a pet” – a description Kay vehemently disputes.

The trio had wanted a two-block ride on the shuttle, after King, 20, became too tired to finish the return stretch of their round-trip promenade walk.

But while nine-year-old Walter was harnessed and properly attired with a blue vest identifying him as a support dog, and despite Kay providing proof of provincial certification for both herself and King, the driver “didn’t want us on the bus,” King told Peace Arch News last week.

Kay told PAN she argued with the driver about Walter’s public-access rights for 20 minutes before another passenger pointed out a notice on the back of the driver’s seat that states service animals are permitted.

Then, it was another five minutes of reviewing Kay and King’s certification documentation before the bus continued on its route, with the trio among its passengers.

Shortly after, when King activated the next-stop signal, the driver commented, “all that for two stops?” Kay told PAN.

Media relations officer Dan Mountain confirmed to PAN that bus operators “are trained that assistance animals certified by the British Columbia Guide Animal Act are allowed on public transit.”

Kay reiterated Monday that her main goal of going public with the experience was to raise awareness around the accessibility rights of service dogs.

“That’s what we’re after, that people be aware that service dogs have rights,” she said.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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