Taxi program to create awareness of fury helpers

IT'S not your average duo fighting for justice but Smart Pups and Suncoast Cabs have partnered up to make a formidable team.

It comes after a war veteran's post-traumatic stress disorder assistance dog was refused entry into a Victorian taxi last week.

With the help of LNP candidate for Fairfax Ted O'Brien, Suncoast Cabs and Smart Pups have developed a "paws on" training program to prevent that happening on the Coast.

Mr O'Brien said able- bodied customers were often guilty of taking their health for granted.

"Can you imagine going to a taxi with your walking frame and the taxi saying you can't have your walking frame in the boot - are you serious?" he said.

"We jump into a taxi and we go on our way but for many people who need assistance, their dog is their best friend.

"It's an extension of them and to not extend them the curtesy is discrimination.

"We haven't seen that on the Sunshine Coast but today is about mitigating the risk so that it will never happen."

Smart Pups trains assistant dogs for children with special needs but Suncoast Cabs general manager John Lobwein has also been approached by Guide Dogs Queensland.

Mr Lobwein said it was important to rectify the taxi industry's negative image.

"It's embarrassing, we set ourselves high standards because we move about 100,000 jobs a year for people with disabilities," he said.

"Obviously we're the only 24/7 provider for the disabled community and they need it more so because there isn't any other option available.

"The policy has always been in place. Taxi drivers can't refuse a dog, but the taxi industry more than any other is judged on our lowest common denominator.

"We're continually looking at ways of self-improving and we just need to make sure that situation never happens."

Training is set to begin in mid-January.