Visually-impaired Essex Uni law student stunned after taxi driver demanded guide dog travel in the boot

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By Thomas Connelly on

Aspiring lawyer is now a backing a charity-led campaign to bolster discrimination laws


A visually-impaired University of Essex law student was left stunned after a taxi driver demanded that her guide dog travel in the boot.

Ruby Blyth-Smith (pictured above) — who is studying towards her LLB with human rights — was informed on two separate occasions by her local cabbie that her guide dog Ziggy would have to travel in the boot.

Blyth-Smith reluctantly agreed on the first occasion. However, Ziggy — who goes everywhere with her owner — became extremely distressed as a result.

Speaking to The Mirror, the young wannabe lawyer said:

It was just horrible and really shocking to me as I had never experienced it before. Ziggy was clearly quite scared and distressed and I had to hold onto her collar to keep her stable as she was bashing against my bags in the boot.

Fast forward two weeks, and requiring another taxi, Blyth-Smith — who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment — was left stunned after the same driver turned up and insisted once again that Ziggy travel in the boot.

This time refusing on the spot, Blyth-Smith said:

I refused that time and I called the company and they told him he was breaking the law and had to take me, but he looked as though he thought they’d be on his side.

The 21-year-old is now backing charity-led campaign to see increased access to taxis, shops and restaurants for guide dogs and their owners.

National charity Guide Dogs UK wants discrimination laws bolstered in order to protect individuals like Blyth-Smith. Along with 100 guide dog owners, the aspiring lawyer lobbied MPs on the issue outside the Houses of Parliament last month.

Continuing she said:

In my instance the taxi driver just got a slap on the wrist so he would probably do it again… If he had been prosecuted, it would have been a different outcome… The more we can raise awareness of these issues, the fewer people will be ignorant.