There are many occasions when we need to travel by car with our Service Dogs. If we don't drive ourselves or are without a car temporarily, we may need to use a taxi service.
The taxi industry has changed considerably in recent years with the rise of companies such as Lyft and Uber changing the way we call and pay for cabs. It's certainly much easier than it used to be to take a taxi, it's also more common and much cheaper.
The aim of this article is to provide you with all the information you need about the Lyft's Service Dog Policy so you know exactly what the rules are and you can confidently book a ride for you and your Service Dog with Lyft. We will also provide details about what to do if you have a bad experience as well as some general guidance about traveling in a car with your Service Dog.
Are Service Dogs always allowed in Lyft cars?
Lyft is very supportive of people with Service Dogs. They believe everyone has the right to a safe ride and encourage their drivers to make everyone's experience with the company a positive one.
No Lyft driver has the right to refuse you a ride because you have your Service Dog with you. Both the law and Lyft's Service Dog Policy states that they must always say yes and take you and your Service Dog wherever you need to go.
There are no exceptions to this rule. Lyft drivers are not allowed to refuse you entry to their car with your Service Dog because they have an allergy to dogs, religious or cultural objections to animals, or even an allergy or phobia.
Do I need to carry proof that my dog is a service dog?
No, you are not required to have any sort of paperwork with you to prove your animal is a Service Dog. Your dog does not need an identification tag. The driver is not entitled to ask for any proof. If you say your animal is a Service Dog, that should be enough for the driver and he should take you and your Service Dog.
According to Lyft's Service Animal Policy, drivers are allowed to ask you two questions:
Is the animal required because of a disability?
What work or task has he been trained to perform?
Even if a driver suspects your dog isn't a registered Service Dog, (or tries to use this as an excuse not to take you) he is not allowed to refuse you a ride for this reason.
If any driver suspects someone is abusing the system by pretending falsely that their animal is a Service Dog, the driver would still have to take the passenger and their dog to wherever they wanted to go, but he would be at liberty to report them afterward.
What happens if a driver refuses to take me because I have a Service Dog?
If a driver refuses to allow you to use the Lyft service because you are accompanied by a Service Dog, this would be considered to be discrimination. There would be an investigation, and if it is proved that the driver refused to take you because you had a Service Dog with you, he would not be allowed to work for Lyft again. This "deactivation" would be permanent.
If you believe there has been a violation of Lyft's Service Dog Policy, you are invited to call 1-844-250-3174 or contact support. This might include being refused a ride or charged fees because you had a Service Dog with you.
Once you submit a complaint, Lyft will investigate and get back to you within two weeks to let you know what has happened as a result of your complaint. They will tell you about any actions that have been taken, including whether the driver has been removed from the Lyft platform.
If there isn't enough evidence to determine whether discrimination took place, a note will be made on the driver's record about your complaint. If a similar complaint is made about the driver in future, your case will also be taken into consideration and it is likely that the driver will not be permitted to work for Lyft again.
If the investigation concludes that discrimination did not take place, no further action will be taken against the driver, but Lyft will let you know.
For full details about how to submit a complaint if you feel you were discriminated against by a Lyft driver by being refused a ride with your Service Dog or mistreated in some other way, consult the User Guide for Riders with Service Animals.
Are all Lyft Drivers knowledgable about Service Dogs?
Lyft Drivers should all be aware what a Service Dog is, and that you have the right to bring them along with you on the ride. They are informed about the sort of training Service Dogs receive and the sort of tasks they often perform.
Lyft has produced written information called the Lyft Service Animal Pamphlet which is available from their customer service department. If you are a regular user of the Lyft service it would be useful to get a copy. It very clearly states that it is Lyft's policy that all drivers must allow Service Dogs in their cars.
Should I inform the driver in advance that I have a Service Dog with me?
It is not a legal requirement or Lyft policy that you have to let the driver know you have a Service Dog with you when you make a booking. However, you may choose to let your driver know out of courtesy.
Will I be charged any extra fees because I travel with my Service Dog?
No, you will not be charged any extra fees if you take a Service Dog with you in a Lyft car.
For instance, you will not be charged a cancelation fee if the driver cancels because you have a Service Dog (although this shouldn't happen, if it does call 1-844-250-3174).
You cannot be charged a cleaning fee for your dog being in the car unless he urinates, vomits or defecates and the driver is able to provide photographic evidence.
I'm a Lyft driver, can I take my Service Dog in the car?
Yes, if you are a Lyft driver and have a registered Service Dog you can take them in the car with you, even when you have passengers.
It's possible some passengers might not want to get in a car with a dog because of allergies, fear or personal preference. It's also possible that you might not have room to take their whole party if there is a Service Dog in the car.
If that is the case you must cancel the passenger's trip and allow them to order another car. Lyft drivers are advised to call passengers to tell them there will be a Service Dog in the car and give them the option to cancel their ride before they are picked up.
Lyft drivers are not allowed to have their own animals in the car unless they are registered Service Dogs.
Are other non-service animals allowed in Lyft cars?
While drivers are not allowed to refuse Service Dogs a ride, they can use their discretion for animals that are not registered as a Service Animal. Some drivers might not mind, others might be less keen.
If you have an animal who is not a registered Service Dog it is advisable to call the driver to check first if he will allow him to travel. If he refuses and cancels your trip, you should not be charged. If you are, contact support who will be able to refund you.
General advice about traveling in cars with dogs
Your Service Dog has probably experienced traveling by car as part of his training, but if it's been a while or you feel a bit nervous about taking him in an unfamiliar car, read these tips about car travel for dogs to help you feel more prepared.
1. Build up to big trips
If you know you are going on a long car journey with your Service Dog, get him used to short trips first. It's a good idea to frequently take him on a short trip so he gets confident in a car environment. If you suddenly have an emergency and need to take him in a car, you don't want it to be a shock for him.
2. Don't give him a big meal for the road
Dogs, like people, can get sick in cars. Perhaps more so, because it can be harder for them to balance. Avoid giving him his main meal just before you travel. Either give him a light meal or wait until you get home.
If you are going on a long journey and your Service Dog has a history of getting car sick, talk to your vet. He might be able to give you some suggestions or medication to stop him from vomiting.
3. Take him for a walk first
However well behaved your Service Dog is, traveling by car isn't much fun for him. He might find it stressful to be in an unfamiliar environment and he might not enjoy being confined.
Make sure you take him for a good walk before his trip, to allow him to release some energy and relieve himself before he gets in the car.
4. Don't let him hang his head out of the window
As cute as his ears look flapping in the breeze, it's very dangerous to drive with your dog's head out of the window as he could get injured. It's a good idea to invest in a special harness that clips to the seatbelt in the back of the car to keep him steady.
5. Be prepared
Just in case of accidents, bring along a plastic bag or two and some wet wipes. You might also want to bring along some water and a small bowl so you can give him a drink. If you are going on a longer journey bring along something for him to sit on to protect the car from hair and accidents.
6. Never leave your animal in a parked car
You're not likely to leave your Service Dog in a taxi unaccompanied, but just in case the situation arises, always remember how quickly cars can get dangerously hot. Never leave an animal in a parked car because they can become dehydrated very quickly.
7. Make sure your dog can be identified
Losing your Service Dog would be devastating, especially if you are traveling far from home and he is in an unfamiliar environment. Make sure he wears an identity tag and is microchipped.
There are times when we need to travel in a car with our Service Dogs and it's reassuring to know that Lyft, as a company, is supportive of people with Service Dogs.
If you plan to book a ride with Lyft, consider informing your driver in advance that you have a Service Dog with you out of courtesy, but remember this is not a legal requirement.
Remember also, there are no exceptions to the rule that a Lyft driver must not refuse to take you and your Service Dog even if he has a fear of dogs, an allergy, or objections on religious or cultural grounds. You are not liable for any extra fees because you travel with your Service Dog either, unless he defecates, vomits or urinates in the car.
If you believe you have been discriminated against call Lyft on 1-844-250-3174 or contact support.
We hope this article has given you all the information you need to ride confidently with Lyft with your Service Dog and the peace of mind to know that you can travel easily with your Service Dog wherever you need to go.