After transit officers wrote 65-year-old Estelle Stamm a ticket in 2007 for bringing her "pony-sized" service dog into a subway station, she successfully sued the city for $10,000. But why stop there? She's also suing NYC Transit for $10 million in a federal lawsuit that accuses workers of violating her civil rights by trying to force her and her giant dog from the transit system.
Stamm insists she has a right to bring her dog on the train and bus because she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by a childhood history of sexual abuse. Transit lawyers are arguing that Stamm isn't really disabled, and according to the Daily News they've assembled 8,000 pages of Stamm's Internet postings, in which she brags that her dog's breed—livestock guardian dog—is dangerous. This reportedly includes assertions that her dog has "tremendous killing power" and could be aggressive toward elderly cancer patients because "she can smell death, and she doesn't want it near her."
The ongoing lawsuit was sparked by an incident in 2000 when a bus driver refused to proceed with Stamm's dog on board, and told the other passengers they had Stamm to thank for the delay. She claims one passenger then warned her, "If I'm late for work, I'll find you and kill your... ass!" Stamm, who carries an ID card for the dog issued by NYC Transit, says she's continually questioned by transit employees about her disability, which she says is prohibited by transit regulations.
She's now awaiting a ruling from a federal judge on whether to toss the suit, and tells the Daily News, "These sons of bitches don't like to be told what to do." Of course, Stamm isn't the only one forced to fight for her right to bear dogs; in March a High School principal in Westbury barred a deaf student who tried to bring his Labrador Retriever with him to class.