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Man and His Service Dog Kicked Off of San Francisco Cable Car

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In a video posted to Facebook by San Francisco resident and attorney Gina Tomaselli, a man with a pit bull laying calmly across his lap is seen sitting in a cable car as the man argues with a San Francisco Police Officer.

On Saturday afternoon, around 1:15pm, Tomaselli, who does not represent the disabled man, says the cable car driver refused to drive as long as there was a pit bull on board – even after the man identified the dog as a service animal. Police were called to the scene and that’s when Tomaselli began filming.

“I won’t get off the bus because I have a right to ride this. I have every right to ride this with my dog,” the man says, referring to the cable car operator, “Because he’s afraid of pit bulls, this is happening. This whole issue, you’ve been called here because of him.”

The officer said, “Sir, take a breath.”

The man responds, “Don’t tell me to take a breath, because, I am, I am going to be arrested? You’re going to arrest me. I am irate. I am not impeding anything. I’ve been going on my day.”

One SFMTA staffer begins to ask riders to disembark the cable car. The man’s dog continues to sit calmly during the entire ordeal.

According to the American’s With Disabilities Act, service dogs do not need to be wearing an identification vest and are not required to have “papers” or certification of any kind. There are only two questions that can be asked of a person in regards to their service animal: “Is this animal required because of a disability?” And, “How does it assist you?”

It is unclear whether the officer asked the disabled man either of those questions before demanding he exit the cable car.

According to Tomaselli, the man was issued a citation.

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  1. lf it was a service Dog it should have been wearing some thing to say so. if so we could all say this an some would . An why was the man sitting with the dog on him so close he could have fell of. don’t think any one should be sacked . just ask the man for proof an move him an his dog to a safer place to sit if he can then he should be removed

    • Avatar Of Brandy Arnold

      Brandy Arnold


      If only it were that easy… unfortunately, that’s not quite accurate. Under the American’s With Disabilities Act, service dogs are not required to wear an identification vest, do not need to be certified, and are not required to carry an identification card or other type of proof. To a disabled person, a service dog is the equivalent of a piece of medical equipment, like a crutch or a wheelchair. And, because service dogs are trained to perform a huge variety of services to their handlers, depending on the disability (some may be guide dogs, some provide stability or open doors and pick up dropped objects, others detect oncoming seizures or changes in blood pressure, and others provide support for those with PTSD, among others) there is no central governing agency that certifies and trains service dogs – they are all different. Additionally, service dogs can be trained by their owner/handlers and do not necessarily need to be trained by a service dog agency. Unfortunately, these laws that protect the rights and privacy of service dog handlers also leave a lot of room for “fakers” – and therin lies a huge problem. There are organizations working to find a solution that prevents fake service dogs without infringing on the rights of legitimate service dog teams, but a solution has not been found just yet.

      As for why the dog was on his lap, that is the rule of the cable car – dogs must be either on the person’s lap or on the floor as far out of the aisle as possible. In this case, there was no floor space for the dog to sit.

  2. Avatar Of Markkie



    Your article was almost correct. Per the ADA you can only ask 2 questions. They are: Is this a service animal and What is it trained to do? The questions you mentioned are not what is stated in the ADA and hence almost correct but not quite accurate.m

  3. Avatar Of Bess



    We can lay a good portion of the blame for this incident on people being dumb enough to believe what the media says. They lie, exaggerate for the sake of ratings and many senseless tragedies have occurred because of that. They really need to be held accountable for their lurid sensationalism, gross exaggerations and out right lies. They have admitted more than once that: “You say something often enough people will begin to believe it. The news isn’t there to tell you what happened. It’s there to tell you what it wants you to hear or what it thinks you want to hear. People care about what newspapers tell them to care about. The fantasies. Not the realities.” 114 of being known as the gentlest of dogs is being ignored because of the media’s lurid tales. Some of which have been proven to be lies. It is really sad what happened to this man and his service dog. I hope he sues that operator, his bosses and the police for their discrimination.

  4. Avatar Of Rev K

    Rev K


    The Cable Car operator and the cop both should be FIRED! Way out of line! And people need to be educated about service animals rights, Dogs,” Pit” Bull Dogs, who have every right to be a service dog, to be out in public. Obviously he was very calm, simply laying across the mans lap securely, not even moving with the stupid cop right in the mans face!! Like the asshat cop was trying to cause a scene and name the dog react so he could shoot him probably. FIRE them both! The guy deserves an apology!

    • Avatar Of Calltoorder



      Fired FOR WHAT??? The only one make a scene was the pit bull pet owner!!!

      • Avatar Of Sara Fry

        Sara Fry


        Did it not occur to you that before the situation even got to the point that you see in the video, the following things would have all had to happen:
        First the trolley driver had to take the time to decide that he was refusing to operate the trolley with the man and his service dog on board
        Then he clearly contacted other transportation officials (several) that you can see in the video, and they arrived
        Someone contacted the police and waited for them all to arrive.

        That being understood, it is not logical to say that the man with the dog was the "only one to make a scene". The scene was already made, and what you're seeing in this video is this mans reaction to everything that had already taken place to get to this point. I can only imagine how frustrated, embarrassed, and outright angry that this man felt when all he was trying to do was be left alone to ride the trolley somewhere with his service dog.

        Try to imagine how you would feel if everyone's making such a big damn deal about the fact that you simply want to take a trolley somewhere with your service dog.

  5. Avatar Of Nancy Anderson

    Nancy Anderson


    How can it be that in this day and age the police department is unaware of the law regarding service animals?

  6. You would a officer of the law, would know to ask, if the dog is a service animal…
    That’s the problem they are ready to arrest someone in this case write a citation…

  7. Avatar Of Seth Tyrssen

    Seth Tyrssen


    This man was completely in the right.

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