Jim Piccirillo doesn’t travel anywhere without his guide dog, Bina, but last week, a cab driver at Bradley International Airport refused to drive him home.
“As soon as I turned around to get into the cab, the gentlemen started saying, 'no dog, no dog.' hat’s is all he said,” Piccirillo said.
Mansoor Ahmad, 24, has driven a cab for a little more than a week and admitted he denied Piccirillo a ride, but had a good reason.
“I suffer from a medical condition called Cynophobia. I have an internal fear of dogs,” Ahmad said.
He has a 2-inch scar near his left eye that a dog caused, he said. A dog that chased him when he was 9-years-old.
Despite his condition, police said Ahmad broke the law when he denied Piccirillo a ride.
“I knew he was a blind man and that I am supposed to take him. Absolutely, I am supposed to take him. But what would have happened if I had crashed on the highway? It would have been very bad,” Ahmad said.
The airport taxi clerk called police on him and his father, Naveed Ahmad, 60, who also drives a cab.
The airport manager told Mansoor Ahmad and his father to leave the cab line after refusing the ride and Naveed Ahmad called 911 to report his anger about being told to leave the line, even though, he said, he wasn’t involved.
Ahmad and his father were both arrested, even though Piccirillo said he didn’t want the cabbies to get in trouble.
Piccirillo is not mad, but it appears others are.
Ahmad got a threatening letter in the mail the day after his arrest. He took it to the police station to try and get some help.
“I’m scared for my family. We don’t even want to sleep at home,” Ahmad said.
Piccirillo said threats aren’t the answer and he hopes people can learn an important lesson from all this.
“The need to understand guide dogs are service dogs and are allowed everywhere I go,” Piccirillo said with Bina by his side.
Both father and son are due in court on June 20. Mansoor Ahmad is no longer driving a cab.