Tad Tadessie and his service dog Rosie, left, address the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, Tuesday. Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

SFMTA board asks agency to clarify rules for service dogs on Muni

After a man and his service dog were allegedly kicked off a cable car last Saturday, rules concerning service dogs on Muni have been called into question.

To address this confusion, The City’s transportation agency board is seeking answers.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors directed agency staff to clarify and address Muni’s rules for allowing service animals and other animals on buses, trains and cable cars.

The request was made by Cheryl Brinkman, SFMTA board vice chair, at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday.

Brinkman told SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin her request is “ripped from the headlines.”

Her request for clarification, she said, is “not only from our benefit but for the public’s benefit,” as well as to steer police enforcement.

As the San Francisco Examiner first reported, Tad Tadesse and his service dog Rosie, a pit bull, skyrocketed to local fame after a video purportedly showing a Muni supervisor and San Francisco Police Department officer trying to remove the pair from a cable car surfaced Sunday.

That video went viral, and now has more than 800,000 views on Facebook and over 12,000 shares.

Tadesse was also at the SFMTA board meeting, and spoke to the board during the general public comment session.

“I’ve experienced a troubling occurrence that happens over and over again of Muni operators not allowing me to board with a service animal,” he said, with his dog Rosie on a leash by his side.

“She’s registered, I have all the papers,” he said, “she is, as you can see, a very sweet dog.”

Though it is unclear when clarification on the legality of service animals on Muni, generally staff reports from board requests are made during future board meetings.

Tadesse said his pit bull, Rosie, is a service animal he registered for emotional support.

As the San Francisco Examiner previously reported, disability access officials said emotional support dogs are considered legally equivalent with service dogs in San Francisco because federal and state laws are broad.

Joanna Fraguli, deputy director for programmatic access at the Mayor’s Office on Disability, said the Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as those trained to provide a service, like guide dogs, but that doesn’t include emotional support animals.

However, section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act defines service animals more broadly, and that definition applies to agencies that receive federal funding –– which the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency does.

Additionally, Fraguli said, California law defines “assistant animals” as both service animals and emotional support animals.

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