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Equal access for Assistance Dog users must become law - Bowles

April 2, 2009 1:15 PM
Originally published by Sharon Bowles

An end to discrimination against assistance dog users will be one step closer today following a key in the European Parliament.

Sharon has been campaigning to ensure equal access for all assistance dogs. Last year she joined activities to make 2008 the year of the assistance dog by visiting the Bucks based Headquarters for Hearing Dogs for Deaf people.

Assistance dog is an umbrella term for dogs trained to help people with a variety of disabilities and includes Guide Dogs and Hearing dogs for Deaf People.

Sharon said:

"It is crucial that assistance dog users are treated equally throughout Europe. I've spoken with people that have been denied access to restaurants and shops because people have a failed to recognise the dog as an assistance dog.

"In the UK we already have laws which protect the rights of assistance dog users but unfortunately due to lack of recognition, these are frequently ignored. I hope that today's vote will reinforce the message that discrimination against assistance dog users is totally unacceptable.

"Discrimination on grounds of disability must have no place in Europe. The vote taking place today is highly important for millions of people across the European Union for many years."

The proposals, which will be voted on during Thursday afternoon, seek to outlaw discrimination when accessing services and goods on the grounds of age, religion or belief, sexual orientation and disability. Sections of the proposals specify that the law must take assistance dogs into account.