Public Access Rights of an Assistance Dog

Thank you for opening your doors to Assistance Dogs!

We at Pat Dogs Australia feel it’s important to know about the great work Assistance Dogs do in our communities, and the laws that make this work possible. This page will help to answer questions about Assistance Dogs, what they do, and their public access rights. We hope this will help you welcome Assistance Dogs in.

What is an Assistance Dog?

An Assistance Dog is an accredited dog specially trained to assist a person with a disability and has met the state standards for public access rights.

How do Assistance Dogs help?

Assistance Dogs can help with a range of conditions. They help people with physical disabilities and limitations complete day to day tasks around their homes and in the community. They help people with psychological conditions, like PTSD and Autism Spectrum Disorders, feel safe, calm and confident when out in public spaces. They provide highly specialised skills to address specific needs a person might have.

What are the rights of a person with an Assistance Dog?

The rights of a person with an Assistance Dog are protected under Federal Law through the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA 1992). The DDA recognises that a suitably trained Assistance Animal is a tool facilitating the functioning of a person with a disability. The DDA recognises both physical and psychosocial disabilities and acknowledges that an Assistance Animal can assist in either case. The DDA allows qualified Assistance Dogs to accompany their handler into all public spaces. The only exceptions to this may be spaces in which a person’s disability is being addressed by other means, or areas with stringent sterility requirements, for example: • Specific Clinical Settings • Surgically sterilised areas • Industrial food preparation areas (kitchens) • Quarantined areas

Assistance Dogs are a necessary aid to allow a person with a disability to engage in their community. You wouldn’t ask someone who requires a walking stick to leave it at the door.

What are your rights and what can you expect as a proprietor?

You are legally allowed to ask for some documentation showing that the Assistance Dog is qualified, accredited, and serving the person they are with. We encourage you to do this, but ask that you do so with sensitivity and respect. An Assistance Animal may have a jacket with branding from the organisation that qualified them, however, this is not absolutely needed under the law. You can expect the dog to be clean, well maintained, very well behaved, and highly obedient to their handler.

How should you interact with the Assistance Dog?

When you come across an Assistance Dog in their jacket out in public they are working to support the needs of their handler, so the best approach is often to ignore their Assistance Dog or seek permission to interact.

You can contact Pat Dogs Australia at [email protected],au.