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On June 1, 2011, I was kicked off of a Bolt Bus going from Philadelphia to NYC because I had my service dogs (two mini-dachshunds weighing about 10lbs each) completely contained in their Sherpa travel bag that airlines approve for animal travel. I have been using Bolt Bus, Mega Bus, Amtrak, even Grey Hound for a couple of years to travel to and from Philadelphia with my dogs. I have NEVER had a problem or a complaint. They are very well behaved and quiet unless they need to alert me to something.

Before boarding, I showed the bus driver my ticket on my phone and she said that I was good to board. I was traveling with two bags on a collapsible stroller as I have done. My personal bag is about the same size as my Sherpa bag. The bus driver suggested that I store my bags under the bus but obviously that wasn't an option. In addition to carrying my animals with me, I had all of my HIV medications, anti-seizure medications, asthma allergy and pain medications in the bag as well as my computer, and a couple of cameras and my school finals I was planning on working on during the trip. She asked me where I was going to put my bags and I said one would go above me and the other on my lap. There was plenty of room on the bus as it was not remotely full and they were allowing standby passengers on. So I can't imagine there was a lack of space. When I started to board the stairs, the driver stopped me and said "Wait a minute...you have animals?" I said yes...and she said that no animals were allowed on the bus. I told her that I'd never had a problem before and had been traveling on Bolt Bus often and never been told that. She told me that only service animals were allowed on the bus. When I told her that they were service animals, she asked me where my documentation was. I didn't have any with me because it had never been an issue and by law they are not allowed to ask for documentation. I explained to her that I lived in New York and needed to get back to get my medications refilled as I was down to 1 anti-seizure pill left and that I go to school in NYC. She told me that she didn't care and got increasingly hostile with me in front of the public and stated that I was not getting on the bus and that neither Amtrak, Megabus or Greyhound would allow "pets" onboard.

I asked her how I was supposed to get back to New York and she said she didn't care. I asked to speak to a supervisor. One was called over and she reiterated that "no pets" were allowed on board. I told her they were service animals and she wanted to see my documentation. I told her I didn't know I had to carry any with me for their commuter bus service. She said it was on the Bolt Bus website and that I needed to make special reservations to ride the bus with a service animal and she refused to make any exceptions. Again I asked how I was supposed to get back home and was told that she didn't care. She then looked it up on her phone on the Bolt Bus website and said it is blatantly displayed on the website that no pets are allowed. I told her they weren't pets and the bus driver piped in saying that I told her they were pets initially which I did not. I was not given a chance to. Then the supervisor told me that I had to make a special reservation 24 hours in advance to travel on Bolt Bus with a service animal which would also be a violation of the ADA. I was told that I had to call in to get a disabled ticket (which costs more than booking a ticket online) and needed to provide medical documentation.

I was growing more and more upset and embarrassed as it was in the 90s and I just wanted to go home and I was being unreasonably denied access to a bus for which I had already reserved a seat and paid in full as I had done many times before. I reluctantly went into my personal bag, by this time shaking, I pulled out my HIV and epilepsy medication and showed them to her and specifically showed her that I only had one epilepsy pill left. She said she didn't care, that she wasn't a pharmacist, and that my pets were not allowed on board.

I then called the police at 911 and requested assistance. While waiting for the police to arrive. I asked to know the names of these two woman and they both refused to give me any sort of id as to who they were or that they worked for bolt bus. The bus driver went off to the side to call a supervisor and tried to have me get on the phone with them but I declined. I said that I wanted to wait for the police to get there. During that time I had a man and a woman seperately approach me and tell me that I was holding up the bus and that there was no way they were going to let me on the bus with my dogs. The one man claimed he had two beagles and the other woman was just angry that I was holding up the bus and she confronted me. I told her to mind her own business and we got into a brief argument. I told her she should speak to the bolt bus employees and not me. I actually ended up explaining to the man, a complete stranger who introduced himself to me as Matt and again reiterated that I was holding everyone up. I told him that I had seizures and HIV/AIDS and needed to get back to nyc to get refills and that I had showed them my medications but they refused to accept that as any sort of proof and he said that was different and that in that case he would have looked the other way and allowed me and my dogs to board the bus, but that I was still holding everyone up by having them wait for the police.

Since these women wouldn't give me any id or employee id I took their pictures on my camera phone which really angered the 1st supervisor and she went off on me saying that its illegal for me to take a photo of her and why was I taking pictures of her. I explained that she wouldn't show me her id, was barring me from boarding the bus and having me disclose my confidential medical information in front of the general public and even that wasn't acceptable to her.

Another male 'supervisor' arrived and he seemed a little more reasonable but would not budge on the subject. The bus driver told him that I told her they were pets and he went with that information and said that I could not ever board a bolt bus with pets. They told me it was federal law that I could not board the bus with animals. The man said that Bolt Bus would be responsible if another passenger went into convulsions because they were allergic to my pets and they could get sued and that is their policy. That statement also does not coincide with the ADA requirements because anyone traveling with service animals is solely responsible for their behavior and NOT the busline.

Bolt Bus makes claims that all reservations are guaranteed and that you can eat and drink on board. So I guess its ok to bring peanuts on board but not "pets." I reiterated to this man that I had medical conditions and showed him my medications which he didn't want to see. While I was doing that the bus driver started telling the public who was waiting for other buses on the street that "someone probably told me what to say in case there was an issue". This infuriated me! The male supervisor then started to ask me if I was in any programs. I said yes and he wanted to know which ones. I told him that I was in ADAP and had just recently been on HASA until my unemployment appeal was granted. This information didn't phase him. Then he told me that he had asked the two ladies to allow me on the bus but they had refused because "I had gotten angry and given them attitude".

The police finally arrived and I explained it to them and they said that I wasn't allowed to travel with animals and there was nothing they could do...they suggested I wait for the following bus and try to get on, but obviously the supervisors weren't going to allow that. I had to show the police my new york state id...a non-drivers id and my other ids and my welfare benefits and food stamps id to prove i was in these programs. I even showed them my healthfirst insurance card which is a managed care HIV insurance program. The male supervisor told me that I would have to call customer service and get a refund. I took his picture because he also wouldn't give me his name at first other than John. When I took his picture he tried to cover his face and got angry. I asked him for his full name and employee id and he refused to give it to me just repeatedly saying his name was john, then johnny, then john johnny and when I questioned the likelihood that his name was in fact " John Johnny" he suddenly changed it to "Johnny joseph".

So the bus took off. The police left after taking down my id and phone number and the id of the bus employees. I was left to go back and buy another ticket from philadelphia to trenton and then the local from trenton to nyc which cost me 2.5 times what I paid for the bolt bus ticket and took me what would have been a 3 hour trip to get home to a 6 hour trip. I feel humiliated and so angry over this unreasonable treatment. Its inexcuseable to me to be treated like this with such disrespect and public humiliation and absolute refusal by Bolt Bus employees to look or consider the evidence I was providing.

I emailed Bolt Bus while traveling on NJ transit for a refund and received an email stating that they would not refund my money because their website clearly states that no animals are to be transported on any of their buses which is different than what the other people were telling me. I then called them personally and spoke to a customer service rep named Bruce who sounded so annoyed with my complaint that he claims he was going to refund my money and also insisted that I needed to have medical documentation that I needed these animals and needed to show it on demand.

The male supervisor had previously told me that when I called in to book my ticket that I just needed to tell them I had service animals and they would give me a special ticket. When I asked if that was all I needed to do and he said yes, I questioned him about it because just because I tell a rep on the phone that I have service animals doesn't show them proof and then he changed his story and said I'd still need to show proof before I board.

I apologize for the lengthy email here but there are a lot of details I felt I needed to explain. I am furious! I need to travel economically to and from Philadelphia and NYC and now my method of transport is being taken away from me. I got home last night and developed an awful migraine during the night and ended up spending an hour vomiting in my bathroom tub and trying to feel better for school in the am.

I am annoyed that these people refused to provide me with specific details about what I needed to provide them so that my transport would be acceptable for them and were so unwilling to even look or consider the evidence I was presenting. I am more annoyed that they needed medical evidence and I am a licensed independent medical provider in New York and Pennsylvania and carry active licenses in both states.

I emailed Bolt Bus customer service for specific details about traveling with service animals and received a lengthy response stating that those with service animals are allowed anywhere that Bolt Bus travels etc...and that I did not need to provide documentation. When I responded and detailed my experience to this person in customer service and attached my photos of the employees, my ids, my medications, and the ADA policies I didn't even get a response. So now what? I have reserved another ticket for tonight because I cannot continue to afford to travel by Amtrak and called ahead to order a special disabled ticket (which aggravates me to have to do that when I just want to live my life as a regular person as best I can). I have also booked an Amtrak ticket just in case I am refused service again.

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Anonymous
#1357656

Two dogs? It is highly questionable that they are not pets.

One dog would suffice for ADA. I doubt anyone would have questioned 1 dog as being service dog.

You cannot have it both ways. Either 1 service dog or 2 pets.

Anonymous
#1106599

Two dogs is not A service animal.

There is no requirement to accommodate emotional support animals.

What role are your animals trained to perform as service animals?

I think you are pissed but I also think you are abusing ada to try to get your pets on with you. Have you considered the potential for discomfort to other travelers with allergies?

The only reason the service animal requirement had to be clarified by the doj was because of ridiculous abuse of the rules by selfish people.

Anonymous
#1057890

Wow I'm so sorry this happened to you I also have an service dog named Buddha 8pounds and I'm looking to head back to network from Atlanta Georgia now I have an emotional service dog would that be a problem? I do have all my papers and I'd for him.what do you think will they refuse me?

Anonymous
#1027106

As an owner of an Emotional Support Animal for medical reasons (mine is a Great Dane), I'm tossing in my two cents. This was completely your fault for not carrying documentation of your ESA. Just because no one else asked for it does not mean you should just blow off carrying it with you.

Anonymous
to Anonymous #1236766

ESAs and service animals are completely different. You do not need any documentation for a service animal and it's against the law for them to ask. ESAs are not service animals are only allowed on planes or housing typically.

Anonymous
#1024552

If you are an independent medical provider, why cant you afford your tickets?

Anonymous
#879476

The next step is to file a complaint with the Dept of Justice who is in charge of ADA complaints. You can also go to your state in which this occured and file a complaint with the Attorney General.

If not him, he should be able to refer you to the state authority to prosecute. Ordinarilly, preventing access is a criminal misdeamner and up to a $10,000 fine. You would than appear in local court w all the papers you have substantiated your case with. As you Know you do NOT have to provide legal/medical documentation upon demand, nor reveal you disability/handicap.

You cannot be prevented entering the premises, or bus, due to other people allergies. Either they have to find a place for you, or send you on another bus. It is not valid to deny access due to allergies.

You do Need to be legally disabled, and have the animals due at least two things that you cannot otherwise do for yourself out in the public, not just at home. You need to be able to tell what these things are they do for you (perhaps bark if they sense you are having a seizure so you can take your medicine), etc.

There is a 1-800 Dept of Justice, and to file a complaint.

There are many ahead of you, but its exactly this "push back" attitude that will stop this humliating, unnecessary and criminal behaviour.

When you tell that Agency, in this case Bolt, their denial of access can result in misdemeanor and $10,000 Civil Fine, and you (very nicely say), "I will need a copy of an incidence report so that I can report this to the attorney general (state) and Dept of Justice, Federal which can also result in criminal charges and big fine. Also let them know, a person who presents a pet as a service animal, who is not disabled, is ALSO guilty of a misdeamenor. So, than you can ask them, well, I guess the next step here if for Bolt to file criminal charges against you, since they think you are presenting pets as service animals.

I doubt they'll do that.

As unreasonable as they were, you did everything you could. The only other choice, might have been, keeping your cool, and letting them file trespassing charges againest you since you would not leave the premises until they gave you a ride. Kinda of a "doggie sit in." Every time they push us 3 ft back and we let them, than the next person is pushed 15 ft back. They were looking for German Shepard and a white cane and the public just needs to become more educated so these kinds of scenes diminish.

And thats partly OUR job. Good Work!

Anonymous
#495174

ANY kind of dog can be a service dog. Their size is irrelevant.

Period. End of story.

Anonymous
#469749

Mini dogs (no matter breed) are not service dogs.... they are not even trainable....there companion dogs and thus not allowed on buses, grocery stores, restaurants etc... sorry for your luck you can find sympathy in the dictionary Between sin and syphilis.

Anonymous
to M. #871687

You are totally wrong...look up service animal rules idioit

Anonymous
to M. Newport News, Virginia, United States #932916

You should most definitely do a little research. Any dog can be a service dog, small dogs included.

My10lb hypoallergenic mixed breed Shorkie is a trained service dog, dual purpose, as I have seizures as well PTSD. She has been TRAINED to bark when medication is needed, as well as grab my pill bag and mini water bottle and bring it to me. She has done this, successfully, 3 times in 6 years. Her TRAINING was even successful enough for her to wake me out of my sleep once.

Not allowed on buses, grocery stores and restaraunts?

Megabus once a month, Amtrak 4 times a year, Whole Foods every Friday...oh and Applebees ocassionaly. Chloe is with me.

Anonymous
to M. Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada #1281085

You are extremely ignorant. I agree that Dachshunds are difficult to train, but that does not preclude them from being service dogs.

I can't remember the title, but there was a man who wrote a book about his seizure alert dog, which I believe was a Dachshund named Allen (sp?). Furthermore, there was a lady who used a wheelchair after loss of her legs due to a vascular issue, and her assistance dog was a Papillon. He was quite brilliant and was able to pick up things that she had dropped and even assist her with making beds!

These are just a couple of examples.

Even as someone with pet dogs, I have travelled with them on many forms of public transit, including city transit in Saskatoon and the GO system in Ontario, in addition to flying with them in-cabin on several airlines. Amtrak now allows small dogs in their cars.

Bet you thought that your lame saying about being able to find "sympathy" in the dictionary between "sin" and "syphilis" was really clever.

Anonymous
to M. #1480949

what.. there are many miniature dogs and there are many miniature monkeys that are service dogs and can perform services highly intelligent as well

Anonymous
#379262

Dear people insulting this person in any way shape or form, or berating him/her for not having documentation: Here is proof BoltBus was 100% in the wrong.

This is straight from www.ada.gov:

~Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.

~Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go.

~Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but CANNOT REQUIRE SPECIAL ID CARDS for the animal or ask about the person's disability.

~People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons.

~A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the animal is out of control and the animal's owner does not take effective action to control it (for example, a dog that barks repeatedly during a movie) or (2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

--

I have taken BoltBus MANY times, and have experienced myself and observed (too often) "difficult" situations made much worse by the bad attitudes of BoltBus workers in Boston and NYC - but nothing to this extent. They think they're being sassy and clever when they're truly being bullies! And get away with it.

Their terrible attitudes then affect the attitudes of the passengers. The passengers see them treating someone badly so then they *know* they can get away with the same thing (and do). It's pathetic when adults throw tantrums or think it's ok to abuse someone because they observe it from other people - schoolyard politics in the real world.

It's awful you had such a bad experience, I really hope BoltBus attempted to make it up to you in some way.

Anonymous
to Notan*** #879478

They can ask for anything they want, but you do not have to give it. They can say your dogs are too small to be service animals.

They can ask you to do the 1-step Polka in D Major backwards. What they CANNOT do (Bolt) is Deny Access!

and gathering all the Intel was perfect, because laws do exist. When you tell them, do you realize that denying access to me is a misdemeanor, and a possible civil fine up to $10,000 that cools them down a little. Asking (nicely) "ok than, I will need a incident report filled out, police complaint (and you file one againest them too when the police get there) And all this gets out, Mr.

Supervisor will be in for a little Corporate re-education.

I hope you also notified Corporate BOLT (which you can usually get the number from the manager), and just basically come at them for any one of three directions. You may only be one person, but you were obey the law.

I also carrry a copy of the ADA printout because I got ganged going into the public library by the district field supervisor who happened to be visiting. I had a little card that says all the ADA law, and won the battle hands down.

Now people can go unmolested into the library with their service dog, as long as the animal behaves.

Anonymous
#365294

To the person who claimed min dachshunds are not service animals.....any breed of dog can be a service animal. How do you know that these dogs were not trained to detect seizures????

The company clearly violated federal law when they insisted proof of medical documentation. A person using a service dog can walk into any restaurant, airport, train station, etc without it, and cannot be denied access. If they are, and the dog is truly a service dog, the company can be fined some serious money.

Clearly it is in the best intrest of the disabled person to carry their animals service dog ID card, and their own, but they never have to show medical documentation, ever. Anyone ever heard of HIPPA

Anonymous
to Dooley #879479

The reason they cannot demand medical documentation is due to the HIPPA or medical privacy act. In the DMV you can stand in the disabled section and they can't ask you your disabiity or letters. So, how does Bolt get to overide a State Agency?

Anonymous
#358157

So sorry for what you had to go through. Reading this just made me so angry at BoltBus.

Honestly, you should take them to court as they are CLEARLY in violation of the ADA.

Take them to court, and don't settle...

You 100% will win any action taken against them. The ADA says "you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability"

Anonymous
to Rob #1312232

BoltBus may be in violation of the ADA, but if she wants to sue or make a complaint, she's likely gonna have to provide documentation to the courts that she has a disability and that the dogs (again, who has TWO service animals?) are service animals and are trained as such.

If I were the BoltBus company, that'd be my first move, ask the plaintiff to prove she has standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place. I know this seems counterintuitive, that the ADA law and regulations says that no one is entitled to ask about the disability, or the dog's training, if you are trying to get public access, but as soon as you file a lawsuit, this would become fair game.

Anonymous
to Anon Attorney #1480953

and what is so odd about 2 service dogs sometimes one is on duty and sometimes one is not they also keep each other company

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