SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A man was forced by San Francisco police to get off a cable car because he carried a pit bull in his lap which he claimed was a service dog, in an incident captured on video and shared on social media.
The cellphone video, which was since gone viral, was posted Saturday on Facebook along with a description of the incident by a woman identified on the social network as San Francisco attorney Gina Tomaselli.READ MORE: 2 Officers Shot, Suspect Dead In San Luis Obispo
Tomaselli wrote in her post the cable car driver feared the dog and called the police because the dog’s owner refused to get off the car and insisted the pit bull was his service dog.
“The driver was afraid of his pitbull [sic] service dog and refused to operate the cable car unless the dog owner got off the car — even after he presented written documentation of the dog’s status,” wrote Tomaselli.
Riders got off the cable car as the officer and the man continued to debate the issue. Throughout the encounter, the dog laid quietly in the owner’s lap.
According to the post, the officer did eventually escort the man from the cable car.
It happened on California Street on October 29.READ MORE: Bay Area Horse Trainer Speaks Out After Kentucky Derby Winner Tests Positive For Banned Substance
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency told the San Francisco Examiner the cable car operator acted according to protocol.
“We understand that some riders need service animals to reach their destination and we want to ensure they can do that safely,” Paul Rose, a spokesperson for SFMTA told the Examiner.
“The operators of any vehicle have the responsibility of keeping their passengers safe and the rules are that every dog should be muzzled and leashed if they are not a trained service animal,” he told the Examiner. “This dog was neither.”
It is not clear from the video whether the man presented service tags to the officer. SFMTA policy does allow service animals to ride free of charge without a muzzle as long as they are under control.
The incident, captured on video, has sparked a furor debate between animal lovers, and disable rights advocates and others.MORE NEWS: World-Renowned Bay Area Architect Art Gensler Dies, At 85
So far, the viral video has more than 632,000 views, was shared more than 9,500 times, garnered more than 3,500 comments and some 47,000 reactions.