A blind Canadian woman was arrested last night in the New York City Subway after breastfeeding her guide dog in public, causing outrage among other passengers.
53-year old Margaret Smith, from Toronto in Canada, climbed on the train with her dog at the Grand Central station around 9:30 PM last night, to get back to her hotel in the Bronx after spending the day visiting Manhattan.
Soon after getting on board, she began breastfeeding her guide dog in front of dozens of other passengers and continued despite several requests from shocked witnesses.
Other passengers eventually called the police and after she refused to cooperate. After a few minutes of confrontation, her guide dog bit a policeman, so Ms. Smith was arrested, handcuffed and taken off the train with her animal.
NYPD spokesman, Lt. Mauricio Ramirez, says the officers tried to simply convince her to stop but had no choice but to arrest her after one of them got bitten.
“The accused seemed unaware that what she was doing was illegal in this country and she showed very uncooperative. After her dog bit one of the officers, they had no choice but to arrest her.”
Ms. Smith says she had no idea that breastfeeding her guide dog in public was illegal in the United States, and says she would never have come to New York if she had known.
“In Canada, breastfeeding is a constitutional right! I’ve been breastfeeding my dogs for 25 years and never had any problems. This country is a dictatorship!”
Ms. Smith faces 14 criminal charges, including gross indecency, resisting her arrest and assault on a police officer.
If found guilty on all charges, she could face a total of 17 years in jail and a fine of $135,000. She could also be forbidden from entering the United States for 25 years.
She was released this morning after paying a $15,000 bail. Her trial is set to begin next Monday at the New York County Criminal Court.