Vernon man praises guide dog for bringing him home after being dropped off at the wrong place

Guide dog saves the day

Chelsey Mutter

A blind Vernon man is praising his guide dog for bringing him home after being dropped off at the wrong place by a cab.

Roland Croteau is legally blind and lives in Vernon, near Pottery Road. He said a Vernon Taxi driver refused him service because of what they told Croteau was an allergy.

“I was at Army and Navy club, and the bartender or the waitress, one or the other, phones me a cab. Now, I don't know if they mentioned whether I had Dodger, my guide dog, or not, or just a cab for Rolly. A cab came and he refused to take me and the dog," he said.

The B.C. government says service providers have a duty to accommodate people with disabilities, including service animals, to the point of undue hardship. Allergies are also considered a disability by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Croteau said another cab came for him and struggled to find his home. It was about 11 p.m., and he said the road leading to his home appears almost like an alley and can be hard to find, especially in the dark.

Croteau said he tried to give the driver instructions, but he said the man used his GPS. When Croteau left the cab, he quickly realized he’d been left at the wrong home.

“I hollered at him and he stops. By the time I got to the road then he took off, left me there, standing at the side of the road,” Croteau said.

He put Dodger’s harness back on and told him to “find a way home.” In the end, Croteau was about three blocks from his house.

“He got a big hug when I got on my step. Because, you know, if I would have been in an area where Dodger wasn't familiar what would happen then?”

Vernon Taxi said it feels terrible for the incident, and is grateful Dodger was able to get Croteau home and that he didn’t get hurt. It’s using the opportunity to retrain both drivers and dispatchers so situations like this don't happen again.

“Our deepest apologies go out to Rolly and his service dog Dodger,” the company said.

Croteau said he has used Vernon Taxi for years and plans to continue using them, noting his only other option is to use the bus.

Vernon taxi is offering Croteau $100 worth of free rides, and encouraged Croteau to call them and point them in the right direction on a gift to give Dodger.

“He’s the real hero here," the company said.

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