The National Federation of the Blind in California has filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc., saying its drivers have refused to transport blind people who use guide dogs and, in one instance, forced a guide dog to ride in the trunk of a car.
One registered Uber driver in Sacramento put a passenger’s guide dog in the trunk while transporting her, and refused to pull over after the customer realized where the animal was, according to the lawsuit.
Other blind riders with service animals have been refused service and harassed, the National Federation of the Blind of California alleges in a civil rights complaint filed this week in San Francisco federal court.
Uber is a ride-hailing app that connects its registered drivers with riders. It is up and running in more than 70 U.S. cities.
While the company does set guidelines for the drivers — and pretty much any schmo can be one — it points out those drivers are independent contractors, and that the company cannot be expected to be able to fully control their behavior. (Or, it follows, be held legally liable for it.)
Uber, like Lyft Inc. and other car-booking companies, are seeking to crack open the $11 billion U.S. taxi and limousine market, according to Bloomberg News.
Through the app, they hook up people needing rides with registered drivers offering one, and take a cut of the fares collected — in effect collecting money while doing none of the actual physical work, and avoiding any actual responsibility.
The federation filed the lawsuit based on complaints from more than 30 blind customers nationwide who have been denied rides because they had guide dogs — a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California civil rights laws.
The advocacy group says the company monitors and controls interactions between drivers and customers, and should adopt and enforce policies to prevent discrimination against blind people with service animals. It is seeking a court order declaring the company discriminates against blind customers with guide dogs, and measures that would ensure that drivers don’t refuse rides to the vision-impaired.
“The Uber app is built to expand access to transportation options for all, including users with visual impairments and other disabilities,” said Eva Behrend, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Uber. “It is Uber’s policy that any driver partner that refuses to transport a service animal will be deactivated from the Uber platform.”
What action, if any, was taken against the driver who allegedly put a guide dog in a car trunk wasn’t specified, but we think he deserves a lot more than being “deactivated.”
Posted by John Woestendiek September 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: application, apps, blind, california, car, civil rights, disabilities, discrimination, guide dogs, mobile, national federation of the blind, ride, service dogs, taxi, technology, transport, uber, uber technologies, vision impaired
After a brief hiatus due to copyright infringement concerns, “Dog Wars” — the controversial game app for Android smartphones — is back on the online marketplace, where it’s being offered under the new name of “KG Dogfighting.”
Google’s Android Market website began offering the renamed app Saturday. While originally available for free, it’s now listed at $2.99.
A Google representative said the application was removed last week ”based on a trademark infringement complaint” but did not say at the time whether it would be sold again if those issues were resolved, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The game application allows players to raise and train a virtual pit bull to fight other virtual dogs, garnering streed “cred” and “money in your pocket,” according to its developers.
Among those who have filed complaints about the application with Google is the president of Los Angeles police officer’s union.
In the letter sent to Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page, Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul M. Weber urged Google “to do the right thing and ban this game permanently.”
“The game teaches users how to breed, train, fight, medicate and kill virtual dogs,” Weber wrote. “The entire concept is repulsive and sickening.”
Animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have voiced concerns about the game and urged it be removed from the market.
Kage Games, the creators of the Dog Wars application, said in an email to The Times that the game was meant to educate the public on the evils of animal cruelty.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: android, animal cruelty, animal welfare, ap, application, aspca, controversy, dog wars, dogfighting app, game, gamers, games, google, hsus, kage games, kg dogfighting, los angeles, market, marketplace, news, peta, pit bulls, police, return, smartphone, union, update
The app was released in response to Google’s Android app “Dog Wars,” which PETA says promotes illegal dogfighting by allowing users to participate in “a digital version of the cruel blood ‘sport.’”
PETA’s new app, available for free, is aimed at “mobilizing anyone who values compassion over cruelty to speak up not only for dogs who are maimed and killed in staged fights but also for animals who are abused on factory farms, in laboratories, and in circuses.”
PETA sugggests subscribers start putting it to use by urging Google to pull “Dog Wars” from the Android Marketplace.
“Dog Wars promotes felony cruelty to animals, plain and simple,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA’s new app allows iPhone users to employ consumer pressure to prevent dogs from being torn to shreds in dogfights and to nip other violent acts of abuse against animals in the bud.”
Users can participate in “action alerts” against specific products that cause animals to suffer as well as donate to PETA’s causes, all while earning points and badges. The more actions that users take, the higher their PETA rank will rise. Every alert is worth 10 points, and 10 additional points can be earned if the alert is shared on Facebook or Twitter.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: action, alerts, android, animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, app, application, cruelty, dog fighting, dog wars, dogfighting, dogs, google, ipad, iphone, ipod, mobile, mobilizing, peta, pets, pit bulls
Has “Dog Wars” bitten the dust?
But those reports were apparently based solely on the dogfighting game app temporarily disappearing from the Android Marketplace, Google’s online store.
Like a bad case of hemorrhoids, it’s back.
Unconfirmed reports say the app was temporarily removed from Google’s online market over concerns about copyright infringement — as opposed to the formidable and still growing opposition being voiced about it by dog lovers and animal welfare organizations.
Developed by Kage Games, the free app allows players to train and fight pit bulls, accumulating money and “cred.”
It has been roundly criticized by, among others, the Humane Society of the United States, PETA, numerous state and local humane societies, actress Alicia Silverstone and football quarterback Michael Vick, who served 21 months in prison for operating a dogfighting ring.
The creators of Dog Wars, in response to criticism, have added some explanation to the Android Marketplace page on which the app is offered.
“We’ve heard thoughts from many dog and animal lovers about our app and first we, as dog owners and dog lovers ourselves, would like to thank you for your thoughts and for the work many of you do on behalf of our canine friends. We DO NOT CONDONE violence towards animals or humans, and we are confident in humankind’s ability to distinguish between a rudimentary game and the consequences of real life.
“We are confident this game will be a net benefit to dogs as it has been in our operating agreement from the start of this project that a portion of the proceeds go to animal rescue organizations. Further, this is a satire about the ridiculousness of dogfighting and we believe in the power of a modern media tool to educate and raise awareness of the real horrors.
“There are hundreds of games on the Google Android market as well as any other popular game platform which, if acted out in real life, would be illegal. What makes the Google Android platform special is it gives the freedom and responsibility to the individual users to decide what to put on their phones as opposed to the phone carriers and app stores making value judgments on our behalf … Please remember that censorship is a very slippery slope.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alicia silverstone, android marketplace, animal welfare, animals, app, application, censorship, complaints, dog fighting, dog wars, dogfighting, dogs, free speech, google, hsus, kage games, michael vick, opposition, peta, pets, video games
Your dog may soon be tweeting.
Japan’s Index Corp., a mobile content provider, plans to launch an iPhone adaptation of the “Bowlingual” dog emotion translator that it says will translate dog barks into English and tweet them out to the world.
The original Bowlingual device, first offered in 2002 by Takara Tomy, consists of a microphone that goes around the dog’s neck and a handheld receiver with LCD screen that gives a written readout of the emotion a dog’s bark is expressing: sad, frustrated, needy, happy, on guard and “self-expressive.”
(That last one puzzles me. I wouldn’t consider it an emotion, and it seems any bark would be self expressive. Then again, maybe something is getting lost in translation.)
The Japanese company plans to launch the new iPhone app this summer, PCWorld reports.
Index is planning to charge $4.99 for the app, said Sonoko Tatsuno, a spokeswoman for the company in Tokyo — considerably cheaper than the $229 stand-alone version. A Japanese version of the new app will come out first, followed by an English version.
In addition to translating a dog’s bark, the software can capture a picture of the dog, using the iPhone’s built-in camera. The resulting picture can then be combined with the “translation” and sent directly from the iPhone to Twitter.
The original product proved to be a hit in Japan selling around 300,000 units, It was also put on sale in the U.S. and South Korea.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 10th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ap, app, application, barks, bowlingual, device, dog, dogs, emotions, frustrated, happy, index corp. takara tomy, iphone, japan, japanese, needy, networking, on guard, pets, sad, social, technology, translate, translator, tweet, tweeting, twitter
It was the sort of scene I can’t walk past: A muttly looking dog, a white-bearded homeless guy and a handmade cardboard sign offering: “Dog Tricks 1$.”
On the sidewalk along Franklin Street — the main drag in Chapel Hill — Mark Williams, after offering me some room on his bench, said he and his dog, Two Beans, have been homeless for about a year. “Work’s kind of slow now” in the construction /handyman/odd jobs field, he explained.
The dog trick — Two Beans knows only one — helps rake in enough money for meals.
I’d gone to Chapel Hill for a meeting of the Board of Advisers of the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, an esteemed panel on which I still serve, despite having left my most recent newspaper job a year ago, and despite – other than doing some revisions on the book I left the business to write, and writing this website — being unemployed.
Twice a year at UNC, members of the board gather to hear what the school is up to in terms of research, fund-raising and curriculum changes, which are coming pretty fast and furious nowadays as the industry, facing declining profits, continues to try to pull new tricks out of its hat, or in some cases get a whole new hat.
This meeting was a special one because it’s the journalism school’s 100 birthday — a benchmark the university’s basketball program also hit this year. That’s pretty old, but there are older journalism schools, I learned during the festivities, such as the highly respected one at the University of Missouri, which was the nation’s first.
Getting ready to pick up my dog Ace (who I’d dropped off for a bath during the meeting) and leave town, I was walking down Franklin Street. Doing that always triggers memories of my days as a student. Thirty-four years ago, I was getting ready to graduate with my degree in journalism, and I was sending job applications to newspapers across the country. I used the seventy-some rejection letters I got then to wallpaper my room.
It dawned on me that, today, I’m in sort of the same situation – job hunting, getting a few rejections, and much more often getting no response at all. At least in the good old days they sent you a form letter. Today, many companies often don’t even bother to acknowledge receipt of your application. While students are still finding jobs, the journalism job market — like journalism — seems tighter, shallower and meaner than ever.
So bleak, in fact, that when I saw Mark Williams’ sign, I ever so briefly considered getting my own piece of cardboard, picking up my dog and setting up shop on the next bench down, offering higher-priced, upscale dog tricks (the Starbucks approach) for $5 to cover gas for my trip home.
Two Beans’ trick requires a dollar bill. Having only a $10, I asked Williams if that would work. He pocketed the ten dollar bill and pulled from his other pocket a crumpled one dollar bill. “Now go back in that alley and hide it somewhere, and Two Beans will find it.”
I wedged the bill behind a drainpipe, about waist high, and sure enough, Two Beans, when I called, came around the corner sniffed around, pulled it out, and brought it dutfifully to his master.
Williams got the dog from a friend, shortly before he began a stretch of life on the streets. He named him Two Beans, he said, because the dog — a golden retriever-Rhodesian ridgeback mix, he suspects — is not neutered. Williams said police don’t give him any trouble about his street business. “They’d rather me do this than just be panhandling like these other guys,” he said.
In addition to providing some income — as much as $70 a day when there’s a home football game – Two Beans makes life on the streets “a little less miserable,” Williams said. He said teaching Two Beans the trick cost him $3, because the dog ate the first three dollar bills
As we sat and talked, Williams, originally from Greenville, N.C., revealed that he once wrote a book about dog training. It was only 20 pages and, so it wouldn’t cost him much to mail it out, weighed only an ounce. “It was basically plagiarized, and not very good.” He took out an ad in the National Enquirer, offering the mini-book for sale for $3. He says he only sold two copies, one to a customer in Virginia Beach, another to a customer in Acapulco — making him, he joked, an “international author.”
When he learned I was a former newspaper reporter, Williams revealed that his family was in journalism as well: His grandfather, Walter Williams, founded the journalism school at the University of Missouri.
“That’s the nation’s first journalism school,” I said.
“Yup,” he answered.
Coincidentally, I’d also recently applied for a job there, in my continuing quest to sniff out writing/teaching/multi-media positions. I received an emailed rejection, one of at least a dozen so far.
I don’t print out my emailed rejections. They don’t have the cool logos on them that I once found decorative enough to serve as wall art. I think I also take them a little more personally, now that I have experience and credentials. So I won’t be using them as wallpaper — either the kind you put on your wall, or the kind on your computer.
Instead, I’ll keep plugging along, like Williams, and waiting for the better times I keep hearing are ahead.
Until then … dog trick, anyone?
Posted by John Woestendiek October 20th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: application, chapel hill, dog, dog tricks, economy, employment, franklin street, homeless, job, job market, jobs, journalism, journalism school, mark williams, mass communication, north carolina, one dollar dog tricks, panhandle, rejection, school, two beans, university of missouri, university of north carolina
If you’ve got an iPhone, you can now download an application that allows you to call up the image of a virtual puppy, scratch his belly until his leg shakes, play tug of war with him, or pet him until he licks the screen.
Joseph Dolan, a recent graduate of Texas State Technical College, created the interactive program — Pocket Puppy Raiser — for Apple Inc., and a portion of proceeds from its sale will go to Guide Dogs of Texas, which raises and trains guide dogs to visually impaired Texans.
The application costs $2.99 per download and proceeds will be split among the iPhone App Store, Dolan and Guide Dogs of Texas, according to an article from the San Antonio Business Journal.
Dolan’s mother works for Guide Dogs of Texas as a puppy raising program manager. Dolan says he plans to upgrade the Pocket Puppy Raiser to reflect the different tasks guide dogs perform as they grow older.
To download the app, go to iTunes and search “Pocket Puppy Raiser.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: app, apple, application, dog, guide dogs, guide dogs of texas, inc., iphone, itunes, joseph dolan, lick, pet, pocket puppy raiser, puppy, scratch, tug, virtual puppy