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I utilize a wheelchair for mobility, what is the safest way for me to load onto the bus or par transit with my service dog?

When loading onto a bus or par transit or other vehicle by way of a wheelchair lift it is important to keep your service dog safe in the process. Before you ever actually try loading your dog with you on such transit, you will want to properly teach your service dog the safest manner to ride the lift with you on solid ground.

Most wheelchair users agree the safest way to ride a lift with a service dog, be it in either a manual or power chair, is to have your dog stand facing you with his front two feet up on your shoulders and his rear feet standing between your foot plates. This makes the dog take up the smallest amount of space hopefully ensuring that he will not be caught and injured while riding the lift. Start by teaching your dog to take this position when you ask him to on the ground, so that your service dog becomes comfortable standing in that fashion and trusts you not to let him fall or run over his feet. Then once this is a solid behavior in your dog’s repertoire, you can begin to safely ride the bus with your service dog.

If you are on a front loading lift, back your chair into the lift first, then ask your dog to take the proper position with his front feet on your shoulders and his rear feet between your foot plates. Once your dog is safely in position, tell the driver it is now safe for him or her to activate the lift.

If you are on a rear loading lift, and if it is a wider lift, put your chair into position and then ask your dog to stand beside your chair. If it is a narrow lift, then the most recommended way is to again have your dog standing in front of you with his front feet on your shoulders and his rear feet between your foot plates. For this way to work safely on a rear loading lift, you will need to have complete trust in your chair’s breaking mechanism as you are loaded forward and if your breaks fail, you would fall backwards off the lift. If you don’t trust your chair’s breaks, another way is to ride the rear loading lift by backing into it, then riding with your dog in the feet on your shoulder’s position and once you are actually in the vehicle then turning around in the aisle to wheel to your riding space.