Veteran denied ride on CATS bus because of service dog
BATON ROUGE - An Iraq War veteran says a CATS bus driver wouldn't let him on the bus because of his service dog.
"Operators said 'No, no...He ain't coming on," Darren Nickols told News 2's Brett Buffington.
Nickols got to Baton Rouge via a Greyhound bus before catching a ride on a city bus to dinner during a two hour layover last Thursday.
"My father died," Nickols explains. "We were coming back from my father's funeral."
When the time came for them to return from dinner to the Greyhound station on Florida, the Nickols' found themselves with a problem: Their service dog, Dasher, who helps Nickols with his PTSD. He was prescribed the dog almost a year ago.
"Pet instead of pills," he says.
Nickols says that because the CATS driver refused to give them a ride, they missed their connecting bus back home to Providence, Rhode Island. They've been stuck in Baton Rouge since Thursday.
CATS has taken some responsibility for what happens. Nickols' showed us a letter indicating the bus system paid for the couple to spend two days in a hotel. CATS also purchased new Greyhound tickets for them, but when they tried to board, Nickols says the bus was so packed there was no room for Dasher.
The family says they're now running out of cash to keep their room at the hotel and cannot afford the price for another set of Greyhound tickets.
"That would be paying $800 for a roundtrip bus ticket," Nickols says. "I'd already paid a roundtrip bus ticket."
Nickols also says their inability to return home has cost him his job.
News 2 reached out to CATS today. A spokesperson acknowledged the incident did happen and says they're looking into it.