SACRAMENTO – They say dogs are man’s best friend, but Christella Garcia’s dog is so much more.
“She’s a woman’s best friend too!” Garcia told KTXL. “So I am totally blind and you can see I have my service animal, Priscilla, who just helps me to navigate and so she is kind of part of who I am.”
Priscilla helps Garcia travel around safely but when it comes to getting a ride, life becomes more difficult.
“So I’ve tried to use Lyft specifically,” Garcia said. “I’ve been always Lyft loyal and I’ve had numerous incidents where I will call for a ride, I will be waiting for the ride and be left by drivers deliberately looking at me, literally seeing myself and the dog and leaving.”
She says over the past year it’s happened five or six times, most recently on Monday.
“Drivers have literally said that they won’t take myself and the dog and literally have said that they don’t care if they are violating the ADA,” Garcia said. “They don’t care if they lose their job, it doesn’t matter. So frustrating, so annoying, hurtful, all these emotions come up.”
Refusing to transport riders with a service dog is against both Lyft policy and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
Lyft’s website lays out instructions for drivers clearly, saying, “When it comes to transporting riders with service animals, drivers on the Lyft platform should remember one thing: Always Say Yes.” The company goes on to say that it doesn’t matter if a driver is allergic or afraid of the animals, they still must take them.
It’s why Garcia says she’s has called Lyft to complain several times.
“Lyft’s response is lukewarm at best. ‘Maybe we’ll compensate you for a couple of rides’ and ‘we’re always working to educate our drivers,'” she said.
She doesn’t believe that any real action is being taken and hopes now to get the message directly to Lyft’s drivers.
“Think about how you would feel if you had a disability,” Garcia said. “If you had a family member with a disability who was treated like this.”
KTXL reached out to Lyft for comment several times Wednesday and has yet to hear back.