ABQ Ride says one of its drivers did not follow its policy when he kicked a veteran and his service dog off a city bus.
“They treat you different because you have a service animal and I don’t think that’s fair,” said Jesse Gordon about his latest ABQ Ride experience.
The Vietnam veteran said he tried to hop on a city bus on June 18, with his service animal, Jackson, to get to a doctor’s appointment. Yet, bus surveillance video shows he never got past the bus stop at Eubank and Central.
“The driver of the bus looked at the animal and says, ‘That’s not a service animal.'” Gordon said.
He said the bus driver claimed Gordon’s PTSD was not a recognized disability that would allow him to have the vested dog.
However, the Governor’s Commission on Disability states PTSD would fall under a psychiatric or mental disability, which would allow Gordon to have a service animal.
KRQE News 13 told ABQ Ride about Gordon’s complaint, and they say the driver did not follow its own rules.
“From looking at the video, it appears that our driver did not properly state our ABQ Ride’s service animal policy,” ABQ Ride Public Information Officer Rick DeReyes said.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act states if it’s not obvious the animal is a service dog, an employee — like a bus driver– can ask whether the dog is a service animal, and what tasks it helps with.
ABQ Ride is now investigating the incident.
“There’s a policy we need to follow and we don’t know why he didn’t follow it but we’re going to find that out,” DeReyes said.
Gordon said he plans to sue the city for a civil rights violation, but court records show nothing has been filed yet.
He did sue the transit department twice back in 2016 for two similar incidents.
A federal judge dismissed both cases because Gordon did not respond to the city’s filed motions.
The city says it has not yet questioned the bus driver, but will remind all ABQ Ride drivers about its service dog policy.
For more on ADA rules for service animals, click here.