Two Metro Vancouver teens who are on the autism spectrum say they were kicked off the SkyTrain because of their service dogs last Sunday, and TransLink is looking into the matter.
Annika Giesbrecht, 15, and Chloe Wildeboer, 17, boarded the SkyTrain at King George station in Surrey with their dogs and were followed on to the train by an attendant.
They need the dogs to help them move around, and during emergencies.
The attendant then spoke to them about their dogs and asked to see proof that they were service animals.
“The dogs were sleeping under our seats like they’re supposed to and she just came and approached us after the doors closed,” Giesbrecht told Global News.
Wildeboer said she was about to obtain her service dog certificate that day. Giesbrecht had an older version of the certificate, and the attendant said it wasn’t acceptable.
The teens said they were asked to leave the train at Surrey Central station, where they had to wait for their parents to pick them up.
READ MORE: Service dog discrimination not uncommon
“It scares me to think this could happen at any moment, but to anyone, even an able-bodied person with a service dog,” Wildeboer said.
The province has issued new service dog certificates with security features, but older certificates are still considered valid until they reach their expiry date.
Assistance animals are permitted on public transit at all times. TransLink is investigating the encounter, said spokesperson Anne Drennan.
Danielle Main, the teens’ service dog provider, says the incident constituted flat out discrimination.
“It happens regularly that people that have invisible disabilities are targeted,” she said.
“You can’t see autism, you can’t see epilepsy. Those things are often alleviated with a dog.”