Below is a copy of an e-mail cc’d to me by a friend. It’s a complaint he’s making to Sound Transit, the commuter bus service that runs between Seattle and several of the surrounding cities . . . I’ve included a file photo of the type of dog my friend is complaining about, a blood hound. As you can see, they’re large dogs.
Via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org on 10/14/2014
Re: Sound Transit Dog Policy Enforcement
Dear Sound Transit,
I’m writing to appeal for your cooperation in instituting tighter controls by your coach operators to enforce your dog policy and enhance the structure around what is defined by a “Service Animal.” On your online published basic rules for bus and train passengers is this first item – “Animals: Service animals are allowed on Sound Transit buses and trains. Pets may ride if they are carried in small containers.”
Yesterday I witnessed this spectacle on boarding the #512 bus southbound for Seattle at the Ash Way Park & Ride around 3:30pm: A full-grown bloodhound (!) on the driver side of the bus in the senior citizen area. The owner had spread her belongings on the seats on both sides of herself taking up 4 spots (!) and her animal sniffed each boarding rider with its snot-dripping nose. She fussed with the dog’s ears, removing material she then would drop on the bus floor. On the opposite side of the bus, a man held a small dog on his lap. Then once underway, he let the dog walk on the bus seat (!). She asked the other animal owner if he cleans his dog’s ears? He said no. She exclaimed loudly, “Well these dogs are known to have a lot of crud in their ears-it’s a full-time job!”
I was FURIOUS! Neither animal had any service animal identification or bibs visible, and neither animal was in any container, let alone “small.” The Ukrainian operator had allowed both of these animals aboard. This has been increasingly happening on the bus with your policy being flaunted more and more often, and I’m sickened by it. If you saw a human wanting to board who licked his privates in public, you definitely wouldn’t allow that human to board the bus (and you’d probably call Security to boot). The dog owners set a gauntlet we have to pass by as their dogs run their wet noses over our passing pant legs. And whether the rider favors dogs or not, this is a public health issue. But most importantly, it makes me daydream about not wanting to ride the bus anymore. I drive a couple of days a week, but could very easily switch to driving every day. It won’t take much.
I would also like to bring to your attention the real cottage business of Service Dog bib fraud. A friend of mine south of Missoula, Montana described a lady there who routinely sews and sells fake Service animal bibs to dog owners who don’t want to be constrained by societal rules for keeping their dog out of places they shouldn’t be.
I suggest instituting a Sound Transit Service Animal pass that owners have to obtain from the Ridestore with staff there verifying documents showing their animal is an authentic Service Animal. Then the owner needs to be required to run the pass by the Orca [boarding card] reader each time they want to board the pass with their Service Animal to verify they are in your database. I know Orca is a fare tracking program, but since you mention that Service Animals ride free, you could program those passes as free. All others without this ID should not be permitted on the bus, PERIOD, unless, as your policy states: they are small and contained in a closed carrier.
Please enforce this out of respect for those of us who would not think of imposing our pets on fellow riders. With your planned fare increase, please consider this additional reason those of who have the choice would consider not riding the bus anymore.
I welcome your response.
(12-year Sound Transit passenger, but considering quitting)