Assistance Dogs

Some helpful advice for those of you who may be training your own assistance dog and have been refused entry to an establishment because you do not have any paperwork from a charity (you don’t need any this is a total myth).

EQUALITY ACT OF 2010

This is the law in England, Scotland & Wales all program and owner trained assistance dog owners are protected under this law.

These are the sections which are relevant to you:

173 Interpretation

(1) In this Chapter

“accessibility requirements” has the meaning given in section 167(5)
“assistance dog” means—
(a)a dog which has been trained to guide a blind person;

(b)a dog which has been trained to assist a deaf person;

(c)a dog which has been trained by a prescribed charity to assist a disabled person who has a disability that consists of epilepsy or otherwise affects the person’s mobility, manual dexterity, physical co-ordination or ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects;

(d)a dog of a prescribed category which has been trained to assist a disabled person who has a disability (other than one falling within paragraph (c)) of a prescribed kind;

but does not include a vehicle drawn by a horse or other animal;

(2) A power to make regulations under paragraph (c) or (d) of the definition of “assistance dog” in subsection (1) is exercisable by the Secretary of State.

2010 c. 15 Part 2 Chapter 1 Section 6 – Disability

(1) A person (P) has a disability if—

(a) P has a physical or mental impairment, and

(b) the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

(2) A reference to a disabled person is a reference to a person who has a disability.

(3) In relation to the protected characteristic of disability—

(a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person who has a particular disability;

(b) a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who have the same disability.

(4) This Act (except Part 12 and section 190) applies in relation to a person who has had a disability as it applies in relation to a person who has the disability; accordingly (except in that Part and that section)—

(a) a reference (however expressed) to a person who has a disability includes a reference to a person who has had the disability, and

(b) a reference (however expressed) to a person who does not have a disability includes a reference to a person who has not had the disability.

(5) A Minister of the Crown may issue guidance about matters to be taken into account in deciding any question for the purposes of subsection (1).

(6) Schedule 1 (disability: supplementary provision) has effect.

2010 c. 15 Part 2 Chapter 2 Adjustments for disabled persons Section 20 – Duty to make adjustments and being substantially disadvantaged

(1) Where this Act imposes a duty to make reasonable adjustments on a person, this section, sections 21 and 22 and the applicable Schedule apply; and for those purposes, a person on whom the duty is imposed is referred to as A.

(2) The duty comprises the following three requirements.

(3) The first requirement is a requirement, where a provision, criterion or practice of A’s puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.

(4) The second requirement is a requirement, where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.

(5) The third requirement is a requirement, where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to provide the auxiliary aid.

(6) Where the first or third requirement relates to the provision of information, the steps which it is reasonable for A to have to take include steps for ensuring that in the circumstances concerned the information is provided in an accessible format.

(7) A person (A) who is subject to a duty to make reasonable adjustments is not (subject to express provision to the contrary) entitled to require a disabled person, in relation to whom A is required to comply with the duty, to pay to any extent A’s costs of complying with the duty.

(8) A reference in section 21 or 22 or an applicable Schedule to the first, second or third requirement is to be construed in accordance with this section.

(9) In relation to the second requirement, a reference in this section or an applicable Schedule to avoiding a substantial disadvantage includes a reference to—

(a) removing the physical feature in question,

(b) altering it, or

(c) providing a reasonable means of avoiding it.

(10) A reference in this section, section 21 or 22 or an applicable Schedule (apart from paragraphs 2 to 4 of Schedule 4) to a physical feature is a reference to—

(a) a feature arising from the design or construction of a building,

(b) a feature of an approach to, exit from or access to a building,

(c) a fixture or fitting, or furniture, furnishings, materials, equipment or other chattels, in or on premises, or

(d) any other physical element or quality.

(11) A reference in this section, section 21 or 22 or an applicable Schedule to an auxiliary aid includes a reference to an auxiliary service.

(12) A reference in this section or an applicable Schedule to chattels is to be read, in relation to Scotland, as a reference to moveable property.

(13) The applicable Schedule is, in relation to the Part of this Act specified in the first column of the Table, the Schedule specified in the second column.

2010 c. 15 Part 2 Chapter 2 Discrimination Section 15 – Discrimination arising from disability

(1) A person (A) discriminates against a disabled person (B) if—

(a) A treats B unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of B’s disability, and

(b) A cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if A shows that A did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that B had the disability.

If you live in Northern Ireland than the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 covers you, to view this click here.

FAQ’s

Is training your own assistance dog/service dog allowed in the UK?
Yes. Many people like to train their own dogs because they can be trained better for the handler’s individual needs. The training programs existing in the UK cannot keep up with demand.

Is there an UK Assistance Dog Registry?
No. There never has been a registry here. Dogs do not have to be registered to work in the UK. This is a myth.

Are there UK assistance dog ID cards?
No. The training program that trained your dog may issue an ID card. This does not make your dog any more legal than an assistance dog without an ID card. At present there are no government ID cards.

What makes an assistance dog?
The dog has to be specially trained to do three or more tasks to mitigate their human partner’s disability. The dog will act to a high standard in pubic. S/he will be calm, clean and well presented.

What’s the difference between an assistance dog and a service dog?
There is no difference. An assistance dog is what a service dog is called in the UK. Service dog can refer to military dogs as well in the UK.

Should I insure my assistance dog?
It is not legally required to insure your assistance dog or assistance dog in training. We would recommend it though. Most programs will have insurance set up to cover their dogs. Non-program dogs should have their own insurance as well. This will ensure equal standing in our community. There are many insurance companies that will insure assistance dogs. Be sure that your dog is insured as an assistance dog and not just a working dog. Liability should be covered.

Where can I take my assistance dog?
Assistance dogs are legally permitted in all public places. This includes grocery stores, department stores and malls, Parliament, jails and Sheriff Courts, cinemas, hotels and amusement parks, and many more! We have listed some of the exceptions below. If you do not know for sure then it is worth a phone call to find out. Some websites will not have been updated so calling is best.

What if my dog is in training?
If you’re unsure of how your dog will act in a new situation please be sure they are marked as In Training, even if it is just for that day. Dogs in training have less rights than full assistance dogs. But by the same token a wider variety of behaviours are tolerated. Owners should try to prepare their dog for likely distractions in a given environment before presenting them.

Am I protected if my assistance dog is attacked?
Yes you are protected by law. Even if your dog is exercising and is not marked as an assistance dog, you can prosecute.

Can I travel with my assistance dog?
Travel on buses and trains is very easy in the UK even for pet dogs. Public transport (trains, buses, trams & the underground) is great for disabled access though people using motorised scooters will probably have problems. With taxies, boats and ferries it can depend on the company. This is the same for all assistance dogs at the moment. We would suggest you call them because websites can have old information on them. With airlines it can depend on the carrier. Flights from other countries are generally fine but flights out of the UK can be difficult.

How do I spot an assistance dog?
An assistance dog will be wearing something that labels it as an assistance dog or service dog. The dog may be wearing a jacket or a vest also s/he could be wearing a harness. Any colour can be worn and no colour means anything specific. There are photos throughout this site of assistance dogs in different garb.

Would my assistance dog be welcome at my GP’s office?
GPs and other non-hospital doctors can be ignorant of assistance dogs. It is up to us to show them what these dogs can do and how beneficial they are for us. In a lot of cases our dogs can be better than a lot of medications, they also keep people living independent lives. You may have to bring printouts for them to read. This goes for all assistance dogs, owner trained and program.

What if I need to go to the hospital?
The NHS is very understanding of assistance dogs. We can’t count the number of times we have been told by nurses, doctors and emergency staff that having an assistance dog is beneficial at the hospital. They are welcome on ambulances as well as in the hospital. Let the staff know you have an assistance dog and what to watch out for as they work. If you have to stay in the hospital then you dog is allowed to stay with you as there’s no legislation to say that a dog is different to auxiliary aids.

If you have a patch on your dog’s gear that reads “Do Not Separate Dog and Handler” then staff are responsible to keep your dog with you. This is comforting to know in case of loss of consciousness. When travelling in an ambulance it is recommended to have a seat belt leash for your dog, even if its just transport.

Can I bring my assistance dog to my child’s school or can my child take their dog to school?
Schools have the right to refuse access to assistance dogs. No matter what program trained them. Once again we would suggest calling the Head and presenting the dog to him/her after school hours. Some Councils want Risk Assessments done before the dog is allowed at the school. Even if the dog is a visiting adult’s and not a child’s. It depends on the school with all of this, so please ask. Visiting guests should make the school aware of their assistance dog before the day of their speech.

Zoological parks

Many Zoo’s will refuse access for various reasons, however, it is worth calling ahead and speaking directly to them. We’ve found that some zoo’s are willing to accommodate you if you speak to them first!

Find out more about assistance dog law here

If you have any further information that you can add to this page please let us know!

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