Assistance Animals in your Business. 

As a business owner, there are certain laws you need to abide by; Consumer Law, Occupational Health and Safety Law, and the Disability Discrimination Act are just a few.  But do you know the laws around Assistance Animals?

Do you know that a registered Assistance Animal and their handler, are allowed in all public spaces, including business premises?

Do you know that refusing a person and their Assistance Animal onto your premises is an offence and you can be charged and fined under the Disability Discrimination Act? (54A)

Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs or Service Dogs are all considered to be Assistance Animals. Some other animals other than dogs, can also be trained and registered as Assistance Animals.  These animals are specifically trained to perform identifiable physical tasks and behaviours to assist a person with a disability to aid in quality of life and/or independence. Some are even trained to save lives by getting help if their handler falls unconscious or has a seizure.

Assistance Animals must pass a strict Public Access Test which is assessed by a qualified Canine Behaviourist.

People who use Assistance Dogs have access rights to public places. These include restaurants and shops, public passenger vehicles, healthcare facilities (except for where infection control becomes a source of concern) and places of accommodation (such as hotels and campgrounds).

It is unlawful under this Act to discriminate by refusing entry or access to a public place.

There are, however, a few rules.

  • Assistance Dogs must always accompany their handler, but not necessarily under the handlers’ direct physical control.
  • In Western Australia, the handler must be able to show the animals’ ID card which is proof of training and registration as an Assistance Animal. The animal must wear a harness or be leashed.
  • The owner of an Assistance Animal is solely liable for any damage to persons, premises, or facilities caused by that assistance dog.

And exceptions

  • The owner/manager of a premises reasonably suspects that the assistance animal has an infectious disease.
  • The animal’s handler fails to produce the ID proving it is a trained and registered Assistance Animal.

For more information please see here and here

Author: Caren Blair