RTD bus operators learn more about service animals

RTD’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) office within the agency’s Civil Rights Division partnered with Canine Partners of the Rockies (CaPR) to visit several bus divisions to demonstrate what a true, well-behaved service animal looks like.

This idea was born out the ADA office’s discussions with General Superintendent of Transportation Chris Deines and assistant general managers.

“We had a series of meetings at the end of last year when we were having significant issues with people bringing pets on buses and saying they were service animals,” said Chris.
“These animals interfere with true service animals and can even disrupt, or impact a service animal’s objectives,” said ADA Manager Ed Neuberg.

Non-service animals have even been aggressive and disruptive toward RTD passengers. For operators, knowing the difference between a pet and service animal is very important. Service animals are unique in temperament, personality and behave differently than your average dog. 

“We want our operators to be able to look for behaviors of a dog that are consistent and inconsistent with a service animal,” said Chris.

Service animals are covered by the ADA. 

“We want to ensure that an individual’s right to have a true service animal is protected while using our services,” said Ed. 

The service dogs who came to visit were also accompanied by a CaPR trainer. This allowed operators to ask specific, detailed questions about the service animals, their rigorous training and final placement. 

The RTD ADA office and CaPR had a lot of engagement with operators and personnel at contracted facilities First Transit Denver and Transdev and RTD’s Platte and East Metro garages.

“It’s been comforting to know that many operators and trainers have a good feel for what a service animal is. This effort has reinforced their perspectives and provided deeper insight about true service animals.”

Ed said that RTD has always been sensitive to this matter. 

“We are always looking for creative ways and ideas to help.”