Anybody that follows Stryder’s Facebook page already knows this, but I need to post it on his web page as well, so I apologize to those that have already heard and have already taken action.
I want to say that I posted a brief statement in the 4 Paws for Ability group while this was happening and they all took action and now we are trying to find a way to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
This was my initial post to them on the 4 Paws Facebook page:
I’m at the Newark airport and they are trying to tell me I need paper work to bring Keebler on the shuttle, what do I do?
I was so lost and felt so alone in New York. We live in a tiny town, only 9,000 people live there. I have lived in large cities (Portland, OR for example) but nothing like New York and we don’t know anyone here AND we were here for medical appointments. It was me and Stryder and Keebler, who is always on the best behavior. I didn’t know what to do or who to call- we only wanted to get to our hotel so we could enjoy the next day before Stryder had pre-op appointments for his brain surgery on Wednesday.
This is what happened:
I was just denied a ride with Super Shuttle at the Newark airport because my son has a service dog. I went to the counter at the Newark airport and the woman working said she had to get permission for the dog to go on the shuttle. I explained that he was a service dog, vested, ID tags, ID card and the ADA law. She called and was told we needed papers. I explained that it was against the law to ask for papers and explained what I did have. Supervisor got involved and said same thing. They would not help. Told me to leave. I used a phone and called the line myself. A different lady answered and it was the same exact experience. Supervisor again said same thing. I went downstairs and again, same thing. I talked with the supervisor who explained I needed papers and it was company policy and said “what if someone is allergic?” Where I said “what if my son died?” He said didn’t matter.
I finally was able to get a hold of the corporate complaint line and they got me on after two hours of denial.
We are from Oregon and came to New York because my son is having lifesaving brain surgery on Wednesday.
Now mind you- there are no papers for owning a service dog. No such thing, they do not exist. The law states that a business is only allowed to ask two questions: “Are you disabled?” and “What service does this animal perform to mitigate your disability?”
The problem started at the counter at the airport in the Welcome Center. The young lady said she had to call to get permission and told the person on the other line that it was a large dog. I explained that it didn’t matter, it was a Service dog and denying access was illegal, but she just shook her head and of course, I could only hear her end and when she would say “I’ll give her the option.” The option? Renting a private car. I told her I would be happy to ride in a private car if they paid the difference, in which she denied. I asked to speak to a supervisor, so she called back and it was the same and then told me to call on another phone.
In the meantime, everyone else was getting escorted and helped all around me. No one working there would even help, while I had a young son, braced from his feet to his head, suitcases and service dog. Not a single person cared and just said “It’s policy.” There was an older man who was working hte Welcome Center, not in the transportation department that tried to tell the lady she was wrong and what they were doing is illegal, but they just wouldn’t listen. I was told someone would call me in a half an hour, but no call and that’s when I went downstairs and the entire situation happened again, except I got “You already talked to the supervisor”- It was the supervisor that told me to call the complaint line and no ride would be given.
I knew my rights, so I stuck to them. I know others in the same situation would not have. I never raised my voice and never got angry, but I was furious and sad that this situation was happening.
What’s even crazier is that Super Shuttle has service dog requirements on their website that plainly state the above are the only things they are allowed to ask. There are very clear rules about how their organization is to deal with service animals, but they obviously did not tell the Newark employees. Check out their policy here.
The only offer they had was that I purchase a private ride, which I would have to pay triple for. I told them I would gladly go privately, but they had to pay the difference. The supervisor laughed when I mentioned that. No matter who I talked to, I was only offered to pay for a private car, but I knew I had rights and kept refusing unless they paid the difference.
There were so many people that helped on the internet, so many people that ARE STILL helping, so to those I thank you from the bottom of my heart!- A formal complaint with Super Shuttle was filed (The complaint # is 568994). I plan on filing a complaint with the ADA as soon as this is posted and will work on getting this on the news so that others do not have to go through what I went through. I was so upset, sad, angry, everything yesterday and then today, I’m sad that it happened. My son is having very risky brain surgery in a few days and this was the last thing I wanted to “fight”, but it’s a fight that needs to happen now. Unfortunately, the timing of his surgery will make the process a little slower.
Surgery is planned for Wednesday, October 1st at Cohen’s Childrens Hospital at 7:30 AM ETD and we will be here in New York until October 7th. I have been scared to death of this surgery and thought often how I just want to run the other way, but I know I cannot. Our original plan was to have a day to “play” in New York and spend the evening after arriving in a hotel in the middle of Town Square. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the hotel until close to midnight when my plane came it before 5. Even after all of this, I was told on the phone that I would be dropped off in front of the hotel door. I asked specifically because I had Stryder, Keebler and several suitcases and had no idea where anything was. I got dropped off two blocks away and told to look for a door inside. I was lost and had to call my husband to come find me- Luckily they arrived a few hours earlier and didn’t have to go through the experience we did.
I have since found out that the company had a lawsuit filed against them for the EXACT SAME THING in 2010 and were supposed to train everyone on the ADA laws. Here is the link for that settlement.
I didn’t want this post to be ONLY about this bad experience, because we did want to move past it, but I needed it publicly documented for those that have questions. Moving past it, does not mean charges are not being filed, it means we are choosing to not live in the past and move forward to focus on my son’s brain surgery and after surgery, I will continue the effort to make sure that Super Shuttle does not do this to anyone again.