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Guide Dog Access Rights

Yellow labrador puppy wearing an orange training coat.By law, Assistance Dogs, which include Guide Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs – and Assistance Dogs in training, are granted access rights to everywhere their handler goes.

They can access public places such as cafes, restaurants, taxis, shops and hospitals*, as well as public transport and in taxis.

*Assistance Dogs are not allowed in operating theatres or certain areas of zoos (such as walk-through exhibits).

The Legalities

Section 8 of The Dog Act 1976 defines an Assistance Dog as one:

“that is trained or is being trained by a representative of an organisation
that is prescribed for the purposes of this definition”

Section 8 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides that to refuse a Guide or Assistance Dog, effectively, discriminates against a person with a disability.

Acceptance in the Community

Not everyone is as accepting of Guide Dogs. If a Guide Dog is refused entry, or asked to leave, effectively, so is the Guide Dog user.

This is a form of disability discrimination and is against the law. This can lead to humiliation or even a damaging loss of confidence.

It is also against the law to treat someone differently or enforce additional conditions (eg. increased cleaning fees in hotel accommodation) to someone who has a Guide Dog.

As the only Guide Dog program in Western Australia, our mission is to advocate for our clients to ensure their rights are protected. Our message to business owners and the wider community is that Guide Dogs can go anywhere.

Community education is the key in this process. Everyone should be aware of the rights, legislation and etiquette surrounding Guide Dog access. We aim to give people the knowledge of how and when to stand up and say something if they witness discrimination.

This also goes for our Guide Dogs in training. Exposure to different environments and locations as a puppy is essential to the safety and wellbeing of a Guide Dog user. They may encounter issues in certain environments, if their dog has not been exposed to these before.

How To Identify Guide Dogs & Autism Assistance Dogs

In WA, a Guide Dog must have a jacket or harness – and carry their ID card. Dogs have different jackets and harnesses, depending on the stage of training or program they are part of.

Guide Dog in Training & Qualified Guide Dog Harnesses

Guide Dog Puppy & Autism Assistance Dog JacketsWhat can I do to help?

The best way to help us and our clients is to spread the message: Guide Dogs can go anywhere.

Like our Facebook page or register to hold a Community Fundraising event to raise awareness and funds to help provide more Guide Dogs to people who need them.

Are you a business owner?

Here are 5 handy tips you can use to make Guide Dog users feel welcome:

  1. Print the ‘Guide Dogs Can Go Anywhere’ poster and display it in your window to show support. Or contact us to receive a ‘Guide Dogs Can Go Anywhere’ sticker.
  2. Guide Dogs Can Go Anywhere StickerAlways speak to the Guide Dog user directly, not the dog. Never feed, pat or distract a Guide Dog in harness.
  3. Keep your entrance and high traffic areas free of obstacles or spills.
  4. Offer verbal information about your products or services. Don’t rely solely on signs or visual information.
  5. Address any concerns other customers may have by knowing the relevant legislation.

Which legislation governs Guide Dog and Guide Dog in training access rights?

  • Disability Services Act 1993 (WA)
  • National Disability Services Standards (2014)
  • Disability Services Act 1986 (Commonwealth)
  • Privacy Act 1986 (Commonwealth)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth)
  • Dog Act 1976

The Disability Services Commission can provide more information on access legislation.

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