The Equality Act 2010 requires taxi and private hire drivers to carry assistance dogs at no extra cost to the passenger. It is also an offence for private hire operators to refuse to take a booking because a disabled person will be accompanied by an assistance dog.
The legislation covers the following types of dog:
- Guide dogs: trained by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to guide a visually impaired person. These dogs wear a harness.
- Hearing dogs: trained to assist a deaf person. These dogs wear a jacket with the words 'Hearing Dogs for Deaf People'.
- Other assistance dogs: those trained by 'Dogs for the Disabled', 'Support Dogs' or 'Canine Partners' to assist a disabled person with a physical impairment. These dogs should be wearing a jacket inscribed with the name of the relevant charity.
In addition, the owners of all these dogs will carry an identity card with the name of the relevant charity. It is important to remember that assistance dogs are highly trained animals and will remain on the floor of a vehicle. They are unlikely to damage or dirty it in any way.
Drivers can apply to be exempted from these duties only on medical grounds which will require supporting medical evidence. Conditions such as severe asthma, which is aggravated by contact with dogs, allergies, or acute phobia to dogs, may qualify a driver for an exemption.
On successful application drivers will be issued with an exemption certificate and a notice which must be clearly displayed in the vehicle's window.
Contact us for further advice and guidance on making an exemption application.