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A woman was left stranded after a taxi company refused to take her guide dog

Four-year-old Annie has been Sam’s guide dog since December 2019.

Sam Heaton, who works for the local charity Outlookers, booked a taxi through Oakwell Taxis on Wednesday April 13 at around 8.25am after his bus failed to show up.

After the taxi driver saw that Sam was accompanied by her guide dog Annie, he left, leaving Sam stranded and unable to get to her office in Batley.

However, a passerby saw the cab leave and offered Sam and Annie a lift to work – restoring Sam’s faith in humanity.

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Sam said: ‘I went to Boothroyd Lane to catch the bus, which is usually an hourly service, but it didn’t show up.

“I needed to get to the office on time that day because we had training, so I called a taxi.

“I arranged for them to pick me up from the Boothroyd Lane entrance to Crow Nest Park as there is room for the taxi to stop and pick us up safely.

“I walked to the entrance to the park and as I stood there saw the car stop – I am registered as blind but have very limited vision so I could see the rectangular shape on the side of the cab – not thinking there would be any issues I reached for the back door handle and it was locked.

“I walked over to the front passenger window which was open a few inches and went ‘taxi to the Whitfield Centre’, to which the person in the taxi said ‘no dogs’.

“I explained that she was my guide dog and that they were legally obliged to take us, to which I then received a ‘no dogs’ reply.

“I then asked him to speak to the staff or call center manager but the person inside the taxi said ‘no you do’ but as I pulled my phone out of my bag the car left.

“That’s where the lovely lady, Michelle, stepped in because she saw it all happen while she was in the park with her dad and dog.

“She saw the taxi leaving and she came straight up and said ‘can I drive you’ – which was really nice of her.

“At the time, she didn’t even know where I was going or anything.

“I offered her money for petrol, which she didn’t take – she was very humble and just wanted to help someone.

“I want to say a big thank you to Michelle for being a decent human being that day and for making such a kind offer.

“It was a mixture of two worlds, dealing with someone who was really ignorant and then having this offer from someone who was really so nice.”

Although Michelle doesn’t want to be in the limelight for her generous act of kindness, a spokesperson for Locala Health and Well-being, where she works, said: “While the details of this incredible act of kindness have been shared with all of Locala’s colleagues, the Michelle involved has yet to come forward.

“While she may not want to take credit and be recognized for what she has done, everyone at Locala is extremely proud to have such kind and wonderful people working with us.”

About three-quarters of all guide and assistance dog owners have had some kind of rejection, whether from taxis, shops or restaurants.

For Sam alone, this is her second refusal of a taxi service, as she is currently also in dispute with Huddersfield Taxis who are still under investigation.

A Guide Dogs spokesperson said: “All blind and partially sighted people deserve to be able to live their lives the way they want and to feel confident, independent and supported in the world.

“It is completely unacceptable and illegal for taxis to refuse a customer with a guide dog, but unfortunately it happens all too often.

“Our research shows that three-quarters of guide dog owners are unlawfully turned away, and this discrimination leaves people with sight loss excluded from life.”

Oakwell Taxis has yet to provide a comment.

However, Sam was informed by the manager that the taxi driver in question was suspended with immediate effect after the complaint was filed.