Sunday, 24 February 2008

Bus Arrest

I was travelling by bus from Ryde to Sydney (CBD) at about 5pm on the 21st of February. After being in court the day before (with three members all with dogs) then being arrested after spending a lovely 5 hours socialising at an outdoor pub, I boarded the bus without drama looking forward to a quiet meal in the city before travelling back up the coast by train.
  • We have official correspondence on STA letterhead advising our right to travel on Sydney and Newcastle buses and ferries with our pets, as long as they are clean and well behaved - no special ID required!

It was a nice new bus with fold up seats to make space for wheelchairs. Pema was happily sitting on the floor in this space when the Transit Police boarded for a ticket check. They told me to leave because of dog. I told them to call the depot and quoted the STA instructions to bus operators that allowed me to travel on this bus. The driver confirmed he allowed me on the bus.

The transit police we not happy. They shut down the bus, got everyone off (several folks said good luck), and got the big guns in - three NSW Police. What happened next is the stuff of horror and confirms what we hear about police treatment of youths, Aboriginals and 'people of Middle Eastern appearance' and Ms. McDonald, the 62 year old (Asian) grandmother they searched and hurt while she was waiting for a bus. They grabbed me to get me off the bus so I went to get Pema. My effort to collect my dog now made me 'resisting arrest'. Why would I resist arrest? An arrest can often result in a faster policy change than other means. Dragged, feet kicked out from under me, handcuffed, separated from my dog, etc. I am injured and under medical care. The rest of the story will be in the members area. This is a sad and senseless situation. Please read about Rosa Parks - arrested in 1955 and deemed a criminal only to be later credited by the US Congress as the mother of the modern-day Civil Rights Movement. Please consider making a donation to help fight this insanity. We also need help in the office for the next week while my injuries heal, email if you can help.


Anonymous said...

This is simply shocking behaviour on the part of the transit police, (who clearly don't know that it is legal to travel on a bus with a dog) and the NSW police that felt it necessary to drag and kick the feet out from under a woman LEGALLY traveling on a bus with her extremely well behaved dog.

Who's next?

Anonymous said...

Have you contacted HREOC?

If you have a disability that Pema ligitamitely mitigates, and if she behaves to an acceptable level in public, then they can not kick you off transport simply because you have Pema with you.

Is there more to this story, because I believe the police would know about this law?

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Barking Mad replies: HREOC are contacted, for this and many other less dramatic incidences. We need a national ID system for these animals that stays with the medical professionals - not the doggie folks. (A public access test maybe but it is only up to a doctor to determine the utility of a dog for a person).

These police DID NOT know the DDA, nor were they interested. They laughed at the suggestion that separating Pema from me was like taking away a wheelchair.

Regardless of the HREOC matters, PEMA and I were travelling LEGALLY and under contract. The STA breached this contract and obviously, their duty of care!

Sandy said...

Is Pema a companion animal, or an assistance animal? On your website you refer to her as a companion animal, so I'm confused!

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Hi Sandy. You're not the only one confused; the number of times the 'authorities' use inaccurate terms or make impossible demands (due to lack of or confusing laws) is countless.

Pema is a registered companion animal in NSW. She is an assistance animal under Federal Disability Discrimination Law (as implemented in all states), AND, by NSW RailCorp definition, she is a 'therapy dog'.

We can easily fix one part of this - get a medically based ID system for assistance dogs using the existing relationship of Medicare and practitioners, where a sticker is put on your medicare card. (Similar to a tranport concession for a full-time student).

Sandra said...

Thanks for clarifying.
In that case, why don't you just refer to her as an Assistance Dog all the time (rather than companion animal, because it confuses people) and put an Assistance Dog vest on her?
I think it would save you a lot of hassle?