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Assistance dogs to access all areas


January 21st, 2010

A TOWNSVILLE woman with a seizure alert dog said she was refused entry to a restaurant and embarrassed at a cinema.

Alison Brennan and Adonis, the first detection dog of its kind in the city, were turned away from Satay Mas and had to convince Warrina Cineplex to allow her in.

The Kelso resident and her labrador have been together since 2003, with the canine companion alerting her to oncoming epileptic fits.

The two have rarely had problems with Townsville businesses and after recent changes to legislation, can not be denied entry.

Mrs Brennan, however, said Satay Mas would not allow her assistance dog inside and their position on the ban had not changed, despite her explanations.

''They need to know guide dogs and assistance dogs are exempt from the hygiene rules, except they aren't allowed to go in the kitchen,'' she said.

''Every now and again I'll ring up to make a booking and say 'I've got an assistance dog' to see if their situation's changed, but it hasn't.''

Satay Mas owner Patrick Chong said he was unaware of changes in health department regulations.

''If the health department is saying they're allowed, I won't mind ... we are happy to serve her if they have the authority from the health department,'' he said.

''It's just because of hygiene ... it's not a shopping centre, it's a restaurant.

''We don't mind serving her - we are happy to serve anybody.''

Mrs Brennan said she would prefer to walk out of businesses if refused entry rather than become involved in what was often lengthy and embarrassing conversations.

''If somebody says no, I'd just rather go somewhere else rather than have them hovering and waiting for him to do something wrong,'' she said.

The laws governing assistance dogs were tightened in July with the State Government announcing businesses faced a $50,000 fine for discriminating against people who rely on the animals.

Mrs Brennan said Warrina Cineplex backed down and allowed her entry to watch a film following a lengthy debate.

''You've got people lined up to buy tickets and everyone can hear the whole conversation,'' she said.

''That was really awkward, having to say what he does for me in front of all those people.''

The manager of the cinema refused to comment on the incident.

Mrs Brennan said she believed some businesses were oblivious to the new laws.

''I don't think anybody really knows that they can be fined by it,'' she said.

''I'm happy around Townsville to the point where I'm taken aback if I get refused entry or made to feel uncomfortable,'' he said.

''There's restaurants in town who ask if I want to order anything for Adonis ... it's so nice.''

Mrs Brennan said she wanted to raise awareness about the assistance dogs, especially for 'invisible' disabilities.

''If I'm somewhere and someone asks me what he's for I explain about what assistance dogs do and things like that because the next person that gets pulled up might not be as comfortable discussing their issues.''

Adonis can predict seizures up to 15 minutes before one occurs, as well as roll Mrs Brennan into the recovery position and find help if she has been in the seizure for longer than usual.

The assistance dog also growls when he sees flickering fluorescent lights, knowing it is one of his master's triggers.

Disability Services MP Annastacia Palaszczuk encouraged all businesses to abide by the spirit of the new laws.

''They're about protecting vulnerable Queenslanders and ensuring people with a disability can access public places.''


Edited by Baby Dragon
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Anita, Mika, inseparable

PEOPLE are reminded that assistance dogs for people with disabilities are allowed in shopping centres and other public places.

Rockingham resident Anita Gustafsson has at times met with rude and inappropriate comments while shopping in Rockingham and says many people did not know that assistance dogs can go anywhere except in an operating theatre or a commercial kitchen in the course of their duties.

Anita’s assistance dog is a miniature pincher named Mika and is one of 70 assistance dogs across Australia whose owners suffer from complications with diabetes – Anita has had Type 1 since she was eight months old.

She was having 12 injections a day until six years ago when she began using an insulin pump, but she then developed a complication where she could not detect if her sugar levels were up or down – until Mika came along.

Anita calls Mika her life saver.

Anita first left a shirt she had worn when her sugar levels were low with Mika until the dog became familiar with the smell.

Since the pair have been together Anita said she had not had a coma or a seizure at all, something she had lived in fear of. Mika bites Anita gently on her hands and feet if her sugar levels are too low.

The little dog even nuzzles and wakes her in the morning if it sniffs out a problem.

The group Paws for Diabetes has run the assistance dog program for a couple of years now. Mika wears a little “uniform” with a badge on it and people are asked not to pat her as she is “working” and must be left alone to do so.


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This sounds more like it is a companion dog (for help at home, not in public places.)

Little Jordan's new best friend

21 Jan, 2010 09:58 AM

WANDA, a quirky black Labrador, has quickly settled into her new role as best friend for Albany muscular dystrophy sufferer, three-year-old Jordan Rogers.

Wanda is the first assistance dog in Albany and lends Jordan a helping paw.

The dog has already begun to change Jordan’s life by giving her the freedom to be more independent.

Provided by Assistance Dog Australia, Wanda was welcomed into the Rogers’ family as Jordan’s companion dog late last year.

Wanda is there to pick up toys Jordan drops, help Jordan open doors and provide loving friendship.

Jordan’s mother Natalie said Wanda had been fantastic.

“She gives Jordan more independence because when she’s playing or drops things, Wanda is there to help her,” she said.

“She will provide more freedom for Jordan with many things we take for granted like turning on light switches.

“And having a dog is just so exciting and fun for the whole family. Wanda makes life so much better.”

As a companion dog, Wanda is trained to provide Jordan with physical and emotional therapy that will allow her to achieve age-appropriate independence.

Assistance Dogs Australia trains Labradors and golden retrievers to give freedom and independence to people with disabilities.

Each dog is an investment of over $25,000 but is placed free of charge.


Edited by Baby Dragon
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  • 1 month later...
Sydney cabbie collared by disability boss

A Sydney cabbie is in the doghouse after refusing to allow a guide dog and its high-profile owner - Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes - into his vehicle.

James Young could not have picked a worse person to turn away than Mr Innes, who is a lawyer and human rights advocate.

He promptly reported the cabbie to the Department for Transport, which launched a prosecution.

Today, Young was fined $750 and ordered to pay $2500 in costs at a Sydney court.

It is by no means the first time Mr Innes and his golden Labrador Jordie have been refused a cab - an offence under federal and state law.

A recent Guide Dogs NSW/ACT survey showed one in three guide dog owners were turned away by cabbies in the past 12 months, with Sydney drivers the worst offenders.

A spokesman for the organisation suggests it may stem from cultural differences.

"Some of it is simply down to taxi drivers not understanding the law," Guide Dogs spokesman Charles Ulm said.

"Some of it is cultural too. We don't have evidence for that, but many taxi drivers come from countries where dogs are looked down upon."

Mr Innes said he approached Young's taxi in Market Street last April and was told he wasn't welcome.

"I wouldn't say he was rude, but he was quite firm the dog or I wasn't getting in," Mr Innes said.

Guide Dogs community education coordinator Dannie Hogan says plenty of drivers are very helpful to blind or visually impaired customers.

"We work closely with the NSW Taxi Council and we know there are many taxi drivers that willingly assist passengers with impaired vision," she said.

"But there are still too many reports of drivers who refuse passengers travelling with their guide dogs.

"We found that refusals are more likely to occur in Sydney. Taxi drivers in regional areas tend to build up a rapport with their regular passengers."

Guide Dogs has worked with the NSW Taxi Council for six years, educating drivers about guide dogs.

It plans to launch an advertising campaign in May to create further awareness of the issue.

Ironically, the ads will be placed on the back of taxis.

"This is a timely reminder to any public transport provider of their responsibilities and requirements," NSW Taxi Council chief executive Peter Ramshaw said in a statement .

"The majority of taxi drivers do the right thing and it is in the industry's interests that those who breach the regulations are forced to change their behaviour."


Edited by Baby Dragon
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  • 3 months later...
Wednesday 14, Jul 2010

A vision-impaired woman says she stood crying in the street after she was refused entry to two restaurants because she has a seeing-eye dog.

Kerry Sullivan planned to dine-out in Deniliquin on Sunday night but was told she must leave her guide dog outside.

Ms Sullivan says she's never felt so degraded in her life.

She was refused entry to two restaurants within 10 minutes of each other because of her guide dog.

"They told me to leave Wilma outside so I could go in and have a meal, but that's like tying your eyes up outside," Ms Sullivan said.

She says when she and her cousin explained that by law the dog could not be refused entry, the owners still refused, suggesting she buy take-away.

"She's been in the ambulance with me, she's been in the hospital with me -- she goes everywhere with me, and for these two places to say 'no' to me it's upsetting, yes," Ms Sullivan said.

By law, an assistance dog can enter all public places, excluding a hospital's operating theatre and intensive care unit.

Ms Sullivan has been vision-impaired since she had a stroke when she was just four-years-old.

She took ownership of Wilma last year, and is the only person in Deniliquin with a seeing-eye dog.


Edited by Baby Dragon
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