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1 United States Review updated:

Please cross post liberally!!!

To all animal owners and guardians: aaa will not transport your animal with you.

I live in southern california. I was driving home with my 12 year old female labrador retriever mix, friday afternoon, july 23, 2010, when the engine of my ford explorer overheated. It was 95 degrees in the san fernando valley. I called aaa, told them i needed a tow to my mechanic and immediately informed them i had my labrador retriever dog with me. The agent explicitly reassured me the dog would not be a problem. She stated she would make the call a priority because i had a pet with me, and as the day was so hot, she wanted to ensure the driver would arrive promptly and transport both of us to a safe location.

The driver arrived about 20 minutes later, and after filling out the paperwork, informed me that the dog could not ride in the air conditioned cab with us, but could ride in my disabled explorer as it was towed to the mechanics. To transport a live animal in a disabled car, while it is being towed, and in 95 degree weather, is unacceptable on a variety of levels. I called aaa again, as this was specifically not what i was told, and was now informed that aaa contracts with local area tow truck companies and each driver can decide for himself whether he wants to allow an animal in the cab or not. I explained that not only was it unsafe for an animal to ride in a vehicle while it was being towed, but that it was 95 degrees and would certainly be much hotter inside the vehicle. The second aaa agent told me the first driver was afraid of dogs and that they would make sure they would send another driver who would accept the dog. The first tow truck was dismissed and i waited in the hot afternoon for the second tow truck to arrive.

Ten minutes later a second tow truck arrived, who explained that although he loved dogs, it was against insurance policy to allow the dog in the cab. (At this point i wondered how many different stories i would get if i continued to call aaa and tow truck companies. ) i asked the driver if he would deliver my explorer to my mechanic without me. He agreed. I sent my explorer on its way for repairs with the tow truck. And my old girl and i walked about a mile to the nearest commercial center where we were able to get a ride from a friend who did not have any issues with dogs on the front seat.

Moral of the story; do not assume if you have aaa and your animal is in the car with you, that both of you will be welcome passengers when the tow truck arrives. Make sure you always have water and dog treats in your vehicle with you. If you must wait for a friend to pick up your animal, water and cookies will be a welcome treat. And if you are a aaa member, a phone call to voice your opinion, will be greatly appreciated.

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  • Ke
      16th of Oct, 2010
    -1 Votes

    This is definitely a unique situation that needs some clarification.

    I am the operations manager for a towing company in Oregon and we are a AAA service provider. I've been in the towing industry since 1996 and with this company since 1998.

    That being said, the correct statement to this complaint should be: "Beware, Towing Companies May NOT Transport Your Pet With You."

    Now, I realize that as a AAA member, the contracted towing company providing service your perception...AAA. And so it stands to reason that if the towing company won't transport your pet, you feel that AAA is therefore not willing to transport your pet.

    However, it must be stated that AAA's policies and the contracted towing companies policies might not be the same in regard to pets.

    Now let's deal with our specific situation. Transporting pets, although rare, is not that uncommon. On average, we are probably presented with this type of scenario once a month. And we run approximately 600 AAA calls per month out of our contract station.

    To be brutally honest, the advent and prolific abundance of cell phones these days has made it so that only 1 out of every 20 tows has a passenger to transport period! Most tows are now completely "unattended". Many customers have already contacted a family member or friend to give them a lift and choose not to ride with the tow truck driver.

    Still, we are required to carry a minimum of two passengers and some contract stations (AAA towing providers) have multi-passenger trucks capable of carrying up to five people.

    What should have happened with your situation was that the AAA call taker SHOULD have contacted the towing company to CONFIRM that they will transport your pet IN the tow truck.

    That would have solved the problem right there. But let's be honest. Neither you, nor the call taker probably clarified the "IN" the tow truck part. What was probably communicated was, "I have a pet, will that be a problem?" And the "assumption" was made by the AAA call taker that it would be fine. And even if the AAA call taker called the towing company, what was probably asked was if taking the pet would be okay? And nothing was brought up about it riding IN the cab of the tow truck.

    Because, in truth, there have been numerous times we have transported the pet in the vehicle but not the tow truck. Sometimes, it's been an issue with the driver. Fear of dogs. Allergies. Or plain and simple...they didn't want hair all over the inside of their cab.

    Other times, the owner of the pet has a carrier in their vehicle and actually WANTS the pet transported in the car, not the tow truck.

    I know of NO policy by AAA forbidding the transport of pets in the cab of the truck. And in truth, the first driver was honest and saying he wasn't comfortable about a large dog riding in the cab (even with you there). And the second driver was just trying to be "politically correct" and blame "company policy". When in reality, he probably wasn't comfortable with the situation either.

    Make no mistake, I am a dog lover. I've always had a dog since the time I was eight years old. In particular, I've always had labs. I love 'em. They are my dog of choice. But not everyone feels this way and this whole situation could have been avoided if both YOU and the AAA Call Taker had just clarified WHERE the pet would ride.

    Because once that was established, and you didn't like the idea of your pet riding in your vehicle while you got the air conditioned cab...arrangements could have already been in the works for a friend or relative to come pick you up.

    Have I taken dogs in the cab? Yes. But as already stated, I am a dog lover. Have I regretted it from time to time? You bet. Some dogs have left quite the hair mess let alone...well...they reeked of doggy odor.

    But in the end, I still hold that it is unfair to say, "AAA will not transport your pets" as a blanket statement.

    Clarification of the situation is the key to anyone having a successful experience with a pet and having your car towed.

  • Ke
      16th of Oct, 2010
    -1 Votes

    After re-reading both your complaint and my comment here are a few more thoughts:

    I commend your love of animals. That is very apparent and please do not take my response as callous or unkind. That is not my intention at all.

    I also took note of the temperature (95 degrees) and agree 100% with advice for everyone with a pet and traveling to make sure you are prepared for a breakdown. Because lets face it, no breakdown is ever planned!

    I would also like to commend the tow company for their quick response...20 minutes in the first instance and 10 minutes in the second. That is a praiseworthy response time and obviously considered your situation a priority.

    Finally, I do agree with your frustration at AAA in that when they sent the second truck, it really should have been confirmed by them what you not only wanted but EXPECTED and to have the second driver still show up and not transport you pet IN the cab was definitely poorly handled by AAA.

  • To
      1st of Jun, 2012
    0 Votes

    DOT regs say, No pets to travel in the cab of a tow truck unless you have some kind of restraint, ie...some kind of doggy seat belt...They say...If the truck was in a accident the dog could become a lose projectile!!!
    Personally...I would be more concerned about 2000+lbs car on the back of the truck slamming in to your back.

    DOT has a lot of new regs for towing...4 point tie downs...10lbs fire exstinguisher with a label to say where it is.
    Reflective stripping down the side of the truck...Pre trip inspection forms must be filled out before driving.
    The list goes on and on...And Tow Drivers...YOU will get tickets for non compliance if you get stopped by DOT not your boss...So beware, Make sure you know all the rules and regs and make sure your truck is up to code.

  • Za
      20th of Jun, 2017
    0 Votes

    Well this is even my upsetting .I have a service dog and she which was denied access to ride with me in AAA truck. While the driver was very kind he said it was against company poilicy. I have poodle which is hyper allgenic and is groomed twice a month. No doggie smells here and no dog hair either. He said he never had a service dog before. I believe this could be a law suit for you AAA.

  • Tr
      19th of Nov, 2017
    -1 Votes

    The driver is not familiar with your dog. He is thinking of his safety as well as yours. He doesn’t know the dog won’t bite him or jump on him while driving. You can never guarantee how a dog will react in different situations.

  • Ti
      21st of Oct, 2018
    0 Votes

    It gets worse. We broke down last night, and I have a service dog. He has a Service Dog registry number and ID that he has on his harness. He has worked with me for 8 years, and I'm never away from him. The driver said he couldn't ride with us, that we had to leave the dog. Literally. He wanted me to just leave my service dog on the side of the road. He said I leave the dog, or I can't get in the truck. I explained the dog was medical equipment, and by law he gets to be with me. Driver said no, and that the reason it wasn't discrimination and against the ADA was that I could call Uber. I had an option. I explained that wasn't how the law works, and I was calling AAA to send a different truck. He said I couldn't call AAA, that it wasn't my card as I was just a passenger. Excuse me?! I was a passenger with my adult son that lives with me, because I have health problems. I pay for the card, and don't need one in my name as I don't drive. He said it wasn't AAA policy about the service dog not being allowed, but his company contracted with AAA, and his boss refused to let dogs in the trucks. I needed to understand that someone in the future could have an allergy, so my dog had to stay, and if I was going to call Uber, I needed to hurry because he had other calls to get to. I explained I was calling AAA, not Uber and tried to make the call. The driver then got real close and was waiving his arms, and I was genuinely getting scared. He kept asking who I was calling, and I told him we have AAA, an and we were calling to get a truck in compliance with the ADA. He said it wouldn't help, that they'd just send another truck from his company and no dogs were allowed in any of the trucks. He said I was wasting his time. I continued trying to get AAA on the phone. I figured if AAA refused to transport service dogs in compliance with the ADA, I wanted to hear it from AAA.
    The driver called his boss, and shoved the phone at my son, who was holding my phone waiting on AAA. By this time the driver had insisted so many times that I couldn't call AAA because the call wasn't on my card, that I just handed the phone to my son. Now my son has two phones. As AAA was still taking time to connect to a person, but "the boss" was willing to talk. He asked if the dog was service. Yes. Could he be restrained? Yes, of course. Then there wasn't a problem. We could ride. In the middle of the call, the driver started yelling that we could have "been there" if I'd just listened and left the dog. He was told he had to take us, and we hung up the calls. The driver continued to yell at me about not listening. I said we were following the law, and he threatened to leave me and only take my son. He said he didn't have to let me in his truck, and was leaving. So we said goodbye, and started to call AAA again to get a truck. At that point he yelled to get in the truck. We didn't speak during the trip. We elected to drop the car at a friend's nearby rather than ride as far as to our home with this driver. The driver than started talking about the murder of a little girl, and insisting it happened on the street we were going to. We said we preferred to not talk about it, and it was across town. He kept telling us horrible details about the murder, and insisting it was next to our friends house. "Yup, this is the street, that's the house." (The murder was over 20 years ago, and across town). It seemed like he was trying to scare us. He dropped the car in the cul de sac. We asked if he could put it in the driveway, as the car did not run. He said the transmission was the last thing to go, and started laughing and said "Good Luck" and left the car in the street.
    I can't believe this sort of thing is ok with AAA, but now I have to worry about being left on the side of the road if I break down, and being threatened and berated by the drivers. Clearly, any sort of ADA training isn't working.

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