Man kicked off bus for service dog

By: Amy Lipman Email
By: Amy Lipman Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires buses to allow service dogs on board, but Richard Palmer said his service dog is the reason he can't ride on Grand Valley Transit anymore.

Veteran Richard Palmer has a psychiatric service dog to help him with problems from a brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.

"He calms my nerves, so I don't get anxiety in crowds of people," Palmer said. "He keeps me focused and on track."

He said he's been taking the bus with his dog, Zipper, for months, but over the past couple of weeks, he said he was kicked off after the bus driver called the dog a comfort dog instead of a service dog.

"This bus driver, a female, was saying, 'He's a comfort dog. He can't get on the bus,'" Palmer said.

Comfort and therapy dogs aren't covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act like service dogs.

However, Grand Valley Transit General Manager Bonnie Fuchs said it was actually the dog's behavior that caused the issue.

"The dog is not under the owner's control," Fuchs said. "Jumping up on seats, kind of walking around the bus on his own."

Palmer said the dog has never acted up on the bus.

"Always well behaved," he said. "Always well obedient. Kids like to pet him. Other people like to pet him. He's very friendly."

People riding a GVT bus with a service dog are asked to specify what kind of service the dog provides then the dog must sit on the floor underneath the chair or on the owner's lap if the dog is small enough. The service dog can't sit on the bus seats.

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