A bus driver in Tel Aviv tried to prevent Yaron Edel, an IDF veteran who suffers from PTSD, from getting on his bus as he was accompanied by his service dog.
Edel, who has suffered with post-traumatic stress since the end of his military service in 2006, is assisted by Ruby, a Labrador who has become an integral part of his everyday life.
He told Ynet on Monday that his dog is key to his functioning normally and that the incident on the bus triggered flashbacks "to the battlefield."
"I have suffered from PTSD since I finished my army service in 2006," he said.
"I suffer from nightmares and anxiety, Ruby helps me with the most basic aspects of my everyday life. She wakes me up from nightmares, calms me down when I cry and helps those around me respond to me and understand me better. People smile when they see me with her, and that reflects back to me."
Edel said the altercation with the driver led to him suffering an episode on the bus.
"You need to understand, people don’t usually deal with death on a daily basis, I deal with it every single day, that’s what happens to those who've been in life-threatening situations.
"I interpret these situations like I'm in real immediate danger, and that is actually a reaction that's caused because of the PTSD. It felt like the driver pulled me back onto the battlefield."
So what exactly happened?
"I was waiting for the Metropolin line 149 on King George Street in Tel Aviv, when the bus pulled up to the station, I was ready to board with Ruby.
"The second the driver saw me he told not to get on the bus, I showed him my certificate that proves Ruby is my service dog , but he kept insisting.
"At some point I just sat down on one of the bus seats and he started cursing at me and calling me a moron, which caused me to scream and curse him back. I just felt uncontrollable anger, I started to sweat and you could visibly see that I was in distress."
Did it make you feel like you were at war again?
"I can't help it, whenever I feel like I'm in a conflict and in need to protect myself, I feel like I'm actually fighting for my life. It’s a genuine diagnosed medical issue that I have no control over. I'm treated with medical cannabis as part of my treatment and Ruby is an integral part of that.
"In Israel the whole service dog subject is pretty underdeveloped; the law might define a certain legal framework, but not everyone is aware of what a service dog actually is."
Metropolin said in response: "The Ministry of Transportation doesn't have any updated procedures regarding service dogs on buses and as such the bus driver asked the passenger to muzzle the dog. After he was asked, the passenger began to act out on the bus.
"In order to keep the rest of the passengers safe, the driver pulled over the bus and waited until the police arrived. The company turned to the Transportation Ministry for clear answers regarding service dogs on public transportation, the company also issued a voucher to said passenger for any grievance that was unintentionally caused."