How to Handle And Deal With Service Animals As An Uber Driver!

With this review, I plan on covering what service animals are and how a professional Rideshare driver should deal with these types of situations. Everyday as Rideshare drivers we’re forced to accept and complete rides that may not be safe for us to do. From picking up drunk passengers who may have had one too many drinks, to picking up passengers who may be potential criminals. We get them all! And it gets worse! Imagine for a second having to do something that would not only make you feel uncomfortable, but could also potentially make you sick or worse if you were to make contact with it. And we’re not talking about having to pick up a funky passenger either lol!

Young woman with face mask travel by taxi with her service animal

At #1RideShareDoc, my main focus lies in me sharing my personal stories and experiences that all relate to this wonderful Rideshare industry lol. Let’s talk and relate about the things that these Rideshare companies could really give a hoot about! Rideshare companies like UberLyftVia and Sidecar just to name a few! Let’s discuss the uncomfortable moments of Rideshare passengers who have service animals. Let’s vent together and share those scary moments! You’re no longer by yourself when visiting this platform. Let your Rideshare Doc prepare you for what’s ahead of you and more importantly behind you. Let’s begin!

This review will be divided into the following sections, for better absorption and clearer understanding purposes:

What Exactly Is A Service Animal?
Do Rideshare Companies Require Drivers To Pick Up Riders Who Have Service Animals?
Should Drivers Be Required To Pick Up Riders Who Have Service Animals?
What Are 10 Good Reasons Why A Driver Should Be Required To Pick Up Riders With Service Animals?
What Are 7 Good Reasons Why Drivers Shouldn’t Be Required To Pick Up Riders With Service Animals?
What If The Driver Gets Sick Due To An Allergic Reaction From A Rider Who Has A Service Animal?
Is There A Way For Drivers To Avoid Picking Up Service Animals?
What Happens If A Driver Is Reported For Refusing To Pick Up A Rider Who Has A Service Animal?
My Professional Conclusion

Man with disability and his service dog providing assistance. Electric wheelchair user.

What Exactly Is A Service Animal?

A service animal is an animal specifically trained to assist people with disabilities. This assistance is done by the animal performing specific tasks or work that pertains to the individual person in need. Even though almost any animal could be considered a service animal, it’s more commonly known for a canine to play this type of role.

A description of Uber's drivers legal obligation to passengers who have service animals.

Do Rideshare Companies Require Drivers To Pick Up Riders Who Have Service Animals?

Well of course Uber and Lyft require all of their Rideshare drivers to provide rides to passengers who may have service animals. Not Uber and Lyft personally, but their drivers of course are required to do so! Now put yourself in these Rideshare company’s shoes for a second when I say when I’m about to say next. I’m about to seriously keep it real with you guys so here we go lol! How dare a billion dollar company say no to any money that may be left on the table, especially when it’s not them being the ones having to get it.

The company does need to stay on top amongst all the other Rideshare companies they’re competing against right, especially when it pertains to revenue! I can almost promise you that this is the mentality that not only Rideshare companies have, but all companies across planet Earth have! That being said, no one really cares about you (the driver) at the end of the day. The average company does everything in their power to get themselves ahead before even considering what their workers feel or think!!

Service dog buckled into the backseat of a car with leather seats, fastened with a red harness and ready for a road trip.

Should Drivers Be Required To Pick Up Riders Who Have Service Animals?

To answer this question respectfully, I would have to say yes and no. I say yes because yes the passenger did pay their money for a service to be completed like any other passenger. So like any other passenger or customer for that matter, they deserve to get what they’ve paid for. Now I said no because unlike regular passengers, a passenger who’s bringing a service animal along for the ride has the potential of ruining a Rideshare drivers day, night or entire life depending on the drivers health conditions or mental conditions. I’ll be getting into a bunch of reasons why shortly.

A purebred golden retriever dog is wearing a animal harness to indicate it is a service dog that will aid blind, visually impaired, or special needs people to stay safe.

What are 10 good reasons why a driver should be required to pick up riders with service animals?

Now to show that I have absolutely no hard feelings against passengers with disabilities who need to have service animals when catching Uber or Lyft rides, I would first like to give you guys a few really good reasons why Rideshare drivers should be required to pick up riders who may have or should I say need service animals. By providing rides to passengers with service animals, the driver would be doing the following:

1.) Promoting an organization of compassion and comprehension among Rideshare drivers towards passengers who depend on service animals for their everyday task and mobility.

2.) Enforcing laws against discrimination and fostering inclusivity by guaranteeing passengers with disabilities the same access to transportation services and treatment as any other passenger using Rideshare services!

3.) Creating trust and building strong, positive connections between Rideshare drivers and riders who are handling service animals, leading to a more warm, encouraging environment for the Rideshare community as a whole.

4.) Promoting independence for passengers with disabilities by integrating them into all aspects of society, including transportation, without discrimination.

5.) Promoting an inclusive society that supports the rights, the freedom and the independence of passengers with disabilities.

6.) Exhibiting corporate responsibility, setting an example for other businesses to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

7.) Improving the image of transportation services through a commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

8.) Offering vital support for passengers with disabilities, ensuring access to necessary services and destinations with their service animals.

9.) Encouraging other Uber or Lyft drivers awareness for a more compassionate Rideshare community.

10.) I had to save the best for last, even though this one should have been first! Making the Rideshare companies more money by not leaving any money on the table.

San Antonio, TX, USA - December 9, 2018: A service dog and its owner pause to relax on a Sunday afternoon in a popular park in the Pearl District of San Antonio, Texas. The park is popular with pet owners, young people, couples and families and is surrounded by restaurants, shops and other attractions which have made the Pearl District one of San Antonio's most popular destinations.

What Are 7 Good Reasons Why Drivers Shouldn’t Be Required To Pick Up Riders With Service Animals?

I apologize in advance guys! Now this portion here would be the part that I couldn’t wait to get to lol. I’m really burning inside to get this out. Especially since I’ve already covered ten really good reasons why Rideshare drivers should be required to pick up passengers who may have service animals! Not to mention the fact that I’ve already mentioned that I don’t have any hard feelings towards passengers who may be disabled or may be in need of their service animal for whatever other purpose! That said, a professional Rideshare driver shouldn’t be required to pick up riders with service animals for the following reasons:

#1.) Fear Of Animals: If a Rideshare drivers afraid of a rider’s service animal or has a phobia of animals in general, this alone could risk the safety of the entire ride. Especially when the Uber drivers ability to focus on the road is compromised! That said, let’s just say I’m one of those drivers who’s constantly flinching and moving around when there’s a service animal in my car. Especially dogs since I was bitten by one when I was only 5 years old!

2.) Health Conditions: If a Rideshare driver has any pre-existing health conditions that involve allergies to an animal’s fur or dander, this in itself couldn’t endanger the driver’s health. Especially if the Lyft driver happens to have severe allergies like myself! Dog hair, especially pet dandruff or lent makes me sneeze profusely to the point where driving can sometimes become impossible. But of course this would depend on the animal that the rider chooses to bring along for the ride and how well-kept it is.

3.) Proper Knowledge or Training: If a Rideshare driver lacks the necessary familiarity or training needed to handle or simply cooperate with a certain type of service animal (like most drivers including myself!), this could lead to a very uneasy, nerve wrecking journey. Especially when referring to an Uber driver’s driving! And you should know by now what this could possibly lead to right?

4.) Car Maintenance/Possible Damages: If a Rideshare driver were trying to keep their car nice, clean, spiffy and free of damages on the inside, picking up riders with service animals would definitely make this harder to accomplish. That’s because it’s normally a “bundled deal” that involves cleaning and/or minor damages when there’s an animal involved in a situation! Even if it’s just hair that the driver has to clean up or a few scratches left behind in the drivers back seats. Either way it’s a “bundled deal” when a driver decides to pick up a rider with a service animal!

5.) Personal Rights: Concerns involving ethics could come up if Uber drivers continue to be forced by Rideshare companies to accommodate riders with service animals without verbal consent or proper training.

6.) Assuming Liability: The presence of a service animal could lead to liability concerns, especially if the service animal damages the Uber drivers vehicle or affects other passengers while the (shared) ride is being completed.

7.) Personal Beliefs: The Rideshare driver may have certain cultural or religious beliefs that may conflict with them having animals in the vehicle. And what driver wants to go against their faith because of some mandate that Uber or Lyft put in place?

Young man sneezing while driving car. Healthcare, virus, allergy concept.

What If The Driver Gets Sick Due To An Allergic Reaction From A Rider Who Has A Service Animal?

Now I know what you guys are probably thinking right now. You might be thinking that if the driver gets sick they can just sue Uber or Lyft for medical expenses and pain and suffering. But you’re dead wrong! Understand that when each and every driver joins these Rideshare platforms, drivers agree that we are 100% responsible for ourselves, our vehicles and for what ever happens inside of our vehicles as “private contractors”. We also agree to give rides to passengers who may have service animals as a part of our contracts which is renewed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. So if the driver gets sick due to an allergic reaction from a passengers service animal, then it’s 100% the driver’s responsibility to take care of it!

A blind man and his golden retriever dog are outdoors on a sunny day. The service dog is helping his owner move around.

Is There A Way For Drivers To Avoid Picking Up Service Animals?

There’s definitely an easy way that a Rideshare driver could go about avoiding a passenger who may have a service animal. If you’re a driver and you’ve been reading my articles you might already know what to do when circumstances like these present themselves. That being said, anytime a driver pulls up to a passenger that they may not feel safe or comfortable picking up (which sometimes can be noticed just by looking at the passenger from a distance!), then it’s always a good idea to use my “strong pull-off game” and immediately leave the passenger! This is why when a driver is showing up to any pickup address, the driver should also be gathering information on the passenger and the possible ways of leaving the area should something happen.

The driver should be checking if the street that they’re on is a dead end or if the street is blocked for any reason. And if the street is a dead end or blocked (which a lot of times is the worst case scenario!), then what allies can you use to exit the street safely? If the driver is able to exit the street or location without communicating with the passenger, then that driver has not only successfully avoided dealing with the riders service animal, but they’ve also avoided any other problem that that passenger may have possibly presented.

And this is all without the passengers knowledge (when it comes to a driver’s intentions!) which is the ending goal, so they won’t have anything to report back to the Rideshare company.

A description of Uber's consequences for drivers who refuse to pick up passengers who may have service animals.

What Happens If A Driver Is Reported For Refusing To Pick Up A Rider Who Has A Service Animal?

If a passenger happens to report a Rideshare driver for not allowing their service animal to ride in their car, then the Rideshare driver would immediately be facing permanent deactivation without question. Even if the passenger was lying, the ending result would still be the same! All Rideshare companies including Uber, Lyft, Via and Alto (just to name a few!) take the passengers side first before thinking twice about the driver. And a lot of times that’s where the investigation ends which is why most drivers are terminated after only one or two false reports!

Cartoon African American Doctor

My Professional Conclusion

Now I would like to conclude this quick review by stating something that I’m pretty sure all drivers would agree with and possibly some passengers too. At the end of the day, everyone deserves to be treated fairly. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Rideshare driver or a passenger. My only exception would be when providing a service conflicts with a person’s mental health, physical health or peace of mind! When it involves a person’s health, comfortability and/or peace of mind as an adult and private contractor, drivers should be able to make their own decisions.

Being forced to provide a service to basically any and everyone who pays for it should be considered a violation of everyone’s constitutional rights. Passengers included! With that being said, I’m pretty sure there are drivers out there that wouldn’t mind taking a rider and their service animal. So if this is the case, why would every driver be required to do what only some drivers are capable of doing? Are Rideshare companies really that greedy? I guess so..

Now that we’re at the end of another great review, I would love to know how you guys feel about passengers and service animals. Do you believe that it is fair for Rideshare companies to require all drivers to provide rides to passengers with service animals? Do you think it’s okay for all drivers to be mandated to do so regardless of their mental or physical health conditions? Well whether you agree or disagree, I would love to hear what you think? If you have something that you would like to say or add to this review, please feel free to leave those kind words at the bottom of this review and I will be sure to respond back to you promptly.

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