Friday, 7 March 2008

A most unusual apology - VOTE

Maybe it's a green thing. Maybe the transport 'guys' see their big buses, trains and timetables and not the social and environmental importance of public transport, especially to our ageing population. Maybe State Transit has a sense of humour I don't get.

But after they admitted to the media I was travelling legally - after I was arrested, I received two penalty notices in the post totalling $300. The first for 'passenger take animal on bus without permission' (um, they even published I had obtained permission), $100, and 'passenger not leave vehicle when directed.' $200. That's right, this girl had a ticket to ride, let's call that a CONTRACT, and I was holding them to their contract. Place your bet: Will the CCTV have been working in this new bus when I was arrested? Vote Yes. Vote No.

Silly! That's all I can say; what a silly waste of time and resources from so many people. There was no problem, no noise, no violence, no disruption to any travellers until the transit police emptied the bus and (the Burwood police came and removed that passenger who had the contract to travel). Click on the photo above to read State Transit's report on making transport accessible to the majority of the community - that's the 40% "majority" who don't have pets, I presume. They even refer to the State Plan on their home page, like we do in our draft policy; we have common ground!

I'm going on a bit about this because it's been over two weeks and my wrist is still sore and strapped up from big boy police officers who interpreted my reaching over to unhook dog lead from bus and collect by bags as 'resisting arrest', and who felt the need to hang on and pull handcuffs that were so gently (ha) applied. Also, members are STILL being hassled by bus operators, although finally today the reports from members travelling has been positive. One even got a free ride, but we won't tell anyone about that.

We're moving ahead with our call to the Federal Government to announce a national transport strategy for pets on public transport. The policy is a copy of the current policy in London - why can they do it, and why haven't we? Please write your support for this policy to your local Federal Member and to the Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese.


bob said...

dear barking mad,

i cannot believe that you would be so selfish as to not see the problems with taking pets on public transport. Now I can understand properly trained seeing dogs but apart from that i think people are being stupid about this.Let me outline some of the problems for you:
1. people have alergies- sorry people come before pets. many people have very serious alergies to animals and their lives should not be being made more difficult by having to share a bus/train/whatever with an animal in unnecessary conditions.
2. animals urinate/produce exrament without control- even if your dog/whatever has had training you cannot guarantee that it's not going to leave it's business where it's not wanted. unless you can put a nappy on your dog, it's a health not to mention comfort concern. as i said before people come before pets it is unbelievably selfish not to consider others comfort and health.
3. they produce noise - dogs bark and are annoying to other passengers, may distract the driver and produce an unnecessary problem for drivers and other passengers. perhaps even a crash. are you prepared to let your selfish wants get in the way of peoples rights to safety?
4. Dogs can turn violent - yes even your precious little "princess".. dogs with no other case of violence have been known to turn violent in rare cases yes, but they happen and therefore you can't rule out your pet. and you should not impose this excess risk on other people. There are also significant communication differences between canines and humans and another traveller may accidently send the wrong message to the dog ending in unwanted violence or for god's sake the horrible "leg hump".
5.some people simply feel very uncomfortable or perhaps even threatened around dogs. logical or not many people have a phobia of dogs, especially large dogs, and many have faced dog attacks in the past. would you really want these people to suffer more trauma than they have to? let me ask this.. what if that was you? would you be happy sacrificing your right to public transport simply becuase some selfish pet owner felt they had the right to place everyone else on the bus in an awkward situation for their enjoyment?.
6. your pet, your responsibility. you buy a pet knowing the cost and responsibility you are not owed the right to take it on public transport. if you have a dog and need to take it out/ to the vet etc. you need to consider how you are going to do this before you get the dog. if you don't have a car and need to purchase one so be it, there is your choice, simple as that. you have no right to disturb others right to comfort, health, safety, personal space and public transport.

yours sincerly
bob(an average dog loving bloke)

Eedra at Barking Mad said...


Well bob. Putting your slavish compliance with the kind of hysteria you are trying to pass off as coherent communication and your particularly limited understanding of dogs, let alone dogs in public places aside, I must protest how you are constructing an image that dogs and pets are some kind of pathogen that must be contained.

If anything you say has any merit then guide dogs should not be allowed on public transport or in public places, which according to your opinion would pit allergies and neuroses against blindness as grounds for excluding pets /dogs from public spaces.

Now I am not going to play patty cake with you over these issues here as the entire premise of your argument is a prime example of the kind of ignorance that the service providers have utilised to conceal and deny our right to access public transport EVEN THOUGH BY LAW WE CAN and so is not only illegitimate but stupid.

Rather to you I say, if allergies and absurd hypotheticals are all you can come up with then take Telfast and stay indoors as the world outside is not for the likes of you. Owner of an assistance dog.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Please consider the environment and our ageing population when debating our legal right to travel with companion animals that are clean, contained and calm.

Please also consider that in other Australian states, there is no issue. Are NSW dogs different? Also, years ago we were accepting of travelling with pets, yet then many DID have fleas and were not de-sexed or vaccinated. Australia has one of the highest (pet) de-sexing rates in the world for dogs.

If you were ill, unable to drive, perhaps a single parent, and your nanny offered to stay in your home and care for you, would you really mind if she travelled to you with Fifi in tow?

Be real: This isn't about pets, is is about community. A community that puts up with things that are not perfect.

Want to go down the senseless road of people vs. pets? More money is spent on pets than childcare. The senseless road of blaming pets for crowded public transport? Parent with double-pram has priority regardless of how crowded the bus is or if YOU need to get to work in peak hour.

The extreme won't solve anything. A minority of pet minders will use public transport, but one group that will are those who take their pets to visit hospitals and nursing homes as therapy dog where they are most welcome.

Tracey said...

I am Ben's co-worker, and I can attest to the plain fact that since Ben and Kane started working with us the morale of the whole office has risen immensely.

Kane is the perfect office worker. He is quiet, well behaved, and loves to help people de-stress by letting them have cuddles and pats.

As we work in the CBD (in Sydney) Ben and Kane have to use public transport to get to work, and unfortunately there have been times when they have been late for work due to not being allowed on some buses, or taxis not showing up at the booked pickup time (I'm making assumptions that the dog travelling too is the issue there)

Our management are fully aware of the public transport issues Ben and Kane face, and are not put out when they are late - both of them are a much valued asset to our team, and we wouldn't swap them for the world.

I can't see why - if office management don't have issues with a highly competent office worker having an assistance dog on the premises - that our transport companies can be so closed minded about getting said office workers to their place of employment.

Our CEO is allergic to dog fur, but he doses up on his antihistamines and drops in for a de-stress pat regularly. A couple of other office workers have had phobias about dogs, but those too have been alleviated by having a positive dog influence around on a daily basis - so Kane is not only assisting Ben in his daily duties, but he's also indirectly helping others... too cool IMHO

Now... if we could teach Kane how to do the filing... *grin*

sandy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sandy said...

People are confusing the issue here. Guide and other Assistance Dogs on public transport is a very different issue to pets on public transport. Guide and other Assistance Dogs are a medical necessity, pets are not.

Bob, are you opposed to other Assistance Dogs on public transport, or just pets on public transport? Your message mentions Guide Dogs in particular but does not mention other Assistance Dogs (Guide Dogs are just another type of Assistance Dog anyway!)

Regarding Ben not being alowed to bring Kane on public transport at times - if Ben is disabled and if Kane has been trained to mitigate the effects of Ben's disability, and trained in public access, then I believe that it is illegal for them to be refused travel.

The 'pets on public transport' issue, whilst important to some people, is irrelevant in the case of disabled people travelling with their Assistance Dogs anyway. The law allows a disabled person to travel with their Assistance Dog, and 'no pets' policies do not apply.

I hope that Ben has reported the details of the staff members who have refused him travel, so that the matter can be dealt with properly.

I use an Assistance Dog, he is appropriately vested, and fortunately I have not had these problems. Is the issue a bigger problem in Sydney than it is in other places?

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Assistance Animals: Appropriately Vested. While sitting in court yesterday with two assistance dogs for two people who they assist (having made sure the court knew in advance we were attending), an ignorant court officer rocked up looked at the golden lab and said 'he can stay', looked at the border collie 'not sure about him'. I put on dark glasses and said nothing and Mr. know it all left.

Assistance dogs come in all shapes and sizes and self-trainned assistsance dogs are legal. They have NO ID, but when we vest them with anything, more as a joke, people in their ignorance don't feel the need to harass.

The solution is a natinal ID system for assistance animals that starts out with a GP or specialist and patient and makes an appropriate diagnosis. Then the training and assistance the animal provides FOR THAT ONE PERSON is evaluated. That info goes to Medicare, perhaps a dog is pubic access tested, a sticker goes onto the medicare card, perhaps with an expiry date if the disability is temporary.

Yes - Barking Mad works on the lack of ID for assistance animals AND access for responsible pet owners and their pets.

They are VERY different issues but the comments raise a hostile pubic view of animals (pets or working).

Having just been welcome at a 5* Sydney hotel with two dogs it was a CONSTANT JOY to see the pleasure and smiles they brought to people -at least to 90% of people.

sandy said...

I don't know about ID cards or stickers on Medicare cards. Imagine every gatekeeper or business owner having the right to stop disabled people to check their ID card every time they entered a 'no pets' area.

The only way I can see it working, is if the ID cards are very non descript, but visible and are attached to the dog somehow - perhaps on their collar or in a clear plastic pocket on their vest. That way disabled people would not have to stop every five minutes to show complete strangers their Medicare card.

I agree that it is amazing that some dogs (like labs) seem to be more 'accepted' than other dogs doing Assistance Dog work. Any breed can be an Assistance Dog - it should be based on a dog's temperament rather than breed. I suppose the fact that Guide Dogs are well known and normally use labs or goldens, that some people automatically assume that Assistance Dogs can only be of those breeds. The public just needs educating, and unfortunately there is not a lot of information readily accessable to the general public unless they deliberately go looking for it.