ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A dog is a man’s best friend, but an Albuquerque man found out this month his dog isn’t welcome everywhere when he tried to get on city buses.
Jesse Gordon, a Vietnam veteran, relies on his dog, Jackson, to help him with his PTSD and other medical conditions. Jackson goes everywhere with Gordon.
“This dog is always here. He’s right beside me,” Gordon said. “This dog is my life.”
However, Jackson apparently is not welcome everywhere. Gordon says city bus drivers have harassed him over his dog.
“I’d like to be treated like an individual and respect for my service dog, that’s all,” Gordon said.
On Nov. 16, Gordon tried to hop on the Route 66 bus that runs along Central at 9:30 a.m. The bus driver told him he didn’t have the proper city paperwork. Gordon told him he had federal service dog paperwork. The driver apparently did not like that answer and continued to argue with him about it.
“He was ugly to me and I just sat down, basically just ignored him,” Gordon said.
The city policy says that anyone with a service animal can ride any city bus.
Gordon reported the incident to 311 and 10 days later, a supervisor called Gordon.
“We apologized to Mr. Gordon for any inconvenience that may have caused him,” said ABQ Ride Spokesman Rick DeReyes.
But the same thing happened two weeks later with the same bus driver.
City cameras show Gordon getting on the Route 66 bus at 8 a.m. two weeks after the first incident. The bus driver again asked Gordon for paperwork.
“You’ve got to have paperwork from the city,” the driver said.
Gordon replied, “No.”
“Yeah you do. I’m sorry, but that’s what they told me, that’s what you have to have,” the bus driver responded, raising his voice.
Gordon is heard on camera calmly exchanging a few more words with the bus driver before he sits down.
DeReyes said the driver was told about the city policy that service dogs are allowed on city buses without paperwork. The driver claimed he never knew.
KRQE New 13 asked DeReyes if the driver got the message about the policy.
“He should, he’s been told face to face,” DeReyes said.
The city said it will not punish the driver.
Gordon says the harassment did not stop there. He says he and his dog Jackson tried to get on a Route 66 bus Dec. 5 during a snowstorm when a different driver shut the doors on them.
“Too full,” the city driver said. “We have too many people. Enough’s enough.”
The driver is seen on video letting one person on the bus before shutting the door on Gordon. But then 12 people get off the back of the bus. And there are plenty of empty seats seen on the video when the bus leaves Gordon standing in the cold and snow,
The ABQ Ride spokesperson says the second driver could be reprimanded for his actions, but the case is still under investigation.