Kevin Helps Open Doors for Guide Dog Owners this Christmas

Tobay’s MP Kevin Foster attended an event in Parliament run by the charity Guide Dogs to raise awareness of discrimination against guide dog owners in the run up to Christmas.

The MP for Torbay heard from guide dog owners about the impact of being turned away by businesses because of their dog. He also collected a Christmas card with messages from local residents highlighting Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign and their support for it.

It is against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances.[1] However, a Guide Dogs survey found three quarters of assistance dog owners reported having been refused entry by businesses. [2]

Businesses which closed their doors to assistance dog owners included shops, supermarkets, gyms, campsites, places of worship, public transport, taxis and minicabs, pubs and hotels. 

Kevin Foster MP said:

“I was shocked to hear about cases of guide dog owners being turned away by businesses. This isn’t just poor customer service; it’s discrimination and it’s unacceptable. Disabled people have the same rights as anyone else to shop, take a taxi or visit their local pub. I support Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to open all doors to guide dog owners this Christmas.”

James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, said:

“It’s against the law for a business to close their doors to someone because of their assistance dog, but it’s still a daily concern for many guide dog owners going about their lives.

When you rely on your guide dog to get around, leaving the dog outside is not an option. Businesses shouldn’t be allowed to make guide dog owners feel like second-class citizens. That’s why we’re calling for better enforcement of the law, and better staff training in some sectors to stop this discrimination from happening in the first place.”

 

Notes

  1. For more information about Guide Dogs and the Access All Areas campaign, please contact Chris Theobald, Public Affairs Manager, on 0118 983 8162 or chris.theobald@guidedogs.org.uk 
  2. Guide Dogs provides life-changing services for the independence of people living with sight loss and their friends and family. Guide Dogs are working towards a future where every person with sight loss has the confidence and support to live their lives to the full. For more information see www.guidedogs.org.uk
  3. Photograph: The attached photograph shows Kevin Foster MP with Sally from Guide Dogs and guide dog Yoko, a black lab/retriever cross

[1] EHRC, Assistance Dogs: a guide for all businesses

[2] Guide Dogs, Access All Areas, 2015