Erick Brown didn’t mean to cause any trouble or commotion when he boarded a Detroit bus this weekend — but he had something with him that brought the bus service to a screeching halt.
“I take the goat everywhere I go because he’s my service animal.”
And Brown had his goat, Deer, with him around 8 p.m. Sunday when he tried to catch a bus on Woodward.
“I get on the bus and the driver was like, ‘What are you doing here? You can’t have a goat on the bus,’” he said.
The encounter was captured on cell phone video and shared with FOX 2. In the video, which you can see parts of in the video player above, fellow bus riders were yelling and complaining for Brown and his goat to get off the bus so they could get going. Brown can be heard trying to fight it, saying he has the paperwork for the animal.
“Everybody was complaining because they wanted to get to their home. I was also trying to get home as well,” he says.
Brown says his goat is his service animal, which helps him after he suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child.
“Sometimes it makes it easier for me to communicate,” Brown said.
But the State of Michigan has specific laws separating a service animal from a therapy or support animal, and the Detroit Department of Transportation follows those guidelines.
“They have service animals as dogs, and dogs that do specific things for the actual individual who has a disability … providing a service for that individual,” interim director of DDOT Angelica Jones said. The DDOT director has seen the cell phone video of Brown and his goat on the bus, and she says the driver in this case did everything right.
As for that paperwork Erick referred to in the video, it is from the US Department of Housing and refers specifically to living arrangements.
Brown says he wasn’t trying to bother anyone Sunday night so, eventually, he and his goat got off the bus and walked the four miles home.
Ironically he says this all could have been avoided if he could find a mechanic to fix his own ride, which happens to be a bus.
“They all say, ‘We don’t work on buses. I’m sorry.’ And I don’t have the money to get it fixed,” Brown said.
DDOT says in the future, anyone with a question about the eligibility of their service animal can give them a call ahead of time.